Play Kitchen– Best Toy Ever!

In case you never knew, the play kitchen is the best toy ever!  Seriously, it is the best.  It is gender neutral, spans ages of kids, encourages great creative and imaginative play and honestly gets more use than any other toy in our house.  My kids play with their kitchen every day.  Sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for hours.  They play together or separately.  Sometimes they make the dinners I make and sometimes they come up with the craziest combinations of food.  The best part is that they actually stand at the stove and cook, then plate their food and then serve it to anyone who will give it a try.

From the perspective of a Mama of boys, I love that something that can so easily be deemed a “girls” toy is one of their favorites.  I totally understand that boys and girls are inherently different.  And frankly, I would never want to change that.  I didn’t teach my boys to vroom a car or turn everything they can get their hands on into a sword or a gun.  They do that on their own and whether I like it or not, that is just what boys do.  I personally don’t mind all the boy characteristics and I understand that boys are active and wrestle and will never be content to sit and color quietly in the corner.  However, I do love to encourage empathy and play that teaches my boys to be considerate and nurturing.  The toy kitchen really does that on its own.  They make food to share with others,  they learn to work together and every time they create a meal they break the gender norm that women do most of the cooking.  I love this!

The added bonus when they play in the kitchen is that I often get to hear their thoughts on food.  For instance, today as they were preparing their meals they were talking about making their healthy dinner.  They were careful to include fruits and vegetables and needed to cook it just right so it would be good for you.  Kids don’t always eat what we give them and sometimes it feels like they never want the healthy stuff, even though we don’t offer a lot of non-healthy stuff.  It warms a Mama’s heart when you realize your kiddos really do hear what you tell them about eating healthy in order to grow big and strong!

If you ever needed an endorsement to buy a play kitchen for your kid, here it is…BUY your kid a play kitchen, it is the best toy ever!  You’ll never be sorry you encouraged your little boy or girl to be a cook.

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Easter Sunday 2011

Easter this year was a ton of fun.  We went to the Sunrise Service at church, found Easter baskets, hunted eggs, played outside and enjoyed a fabulous dinner with great friends.  And the weather was perfect!  I don’t think we could have asked for a better Easter!

For the past few years we have attended the Sunrise Service at church.  The service is at 7am, is held on the front lawn of the church and features a blue grass band for the music.  Everyone brings lawn chairs or blankets and they have donuts and coffee during the service.  It is so great.  Although we neglected to grab lawn chairs from our real house, I did remember I had my yoga mat in the car.  It worked perfectly!  We also remembered to bring GF donuts for Jack so we could all enjoy a special treat for breakfast.  Not that we would need anymore special treats added into our day, but it isn’t very often that Mama relents and lets the kiddos indulge in sweet treats!  The only thing we forgot was to bring bread so Jack could take communion.  He is usually in Sunday School during the service, so it hadn’t really occurred to us that he can’t take communion since it is real bread.  Something we will have to work out before summer when his Sunday School is on break and he attends the service with us regularly.  He was a little disappointed that he couldn’t take communion but he handled it well.  G didn’t want to take communion but then once we got all the way through the line and it was almost over he decided he did want it.  Really he was just bored and wanted to do something.  We got through it and enjoyed the service immensely.  The kids loved the music and Jack danced to all the music.  We were pretty front and center, so he even got a shout out from the pulpit as a future dancer.  He beamed with pride when he realized that our pastor was referring to him!

After church we came home and the boys found their Easter baskets.  The Easter Bunny left them on the dining room table but the boys didn’t want to know where they were.  They wanted to find them.  I guess the Easter Bunny needs to remember that they like to hunt for the baskets too and hide them next year.  Following suit to last year, Garrett went straight for the candy in the eggs while Jack checked out what all was in the basket.  Jack opened some candy eggs too, but his first thought is always the stuff while G is always looking for the sweets!

We headed out to the backyard to look for the eggs the Easter Bunny had hidden.  The boys did a good job hunting eggs.  They worked together well and helped each other find eggs.  They really do love to play together and are always making sure each of them gets an equitable share of things.  I hope they continue with that sentiment.  It is super sweet to watch.

The boys were pretty excited to play with their new little toys in their baskets, so they quickly got caught up in doing a puzzle, reading with Daddy and then playing bubbles.  They spent the better part of two hours playing bubbles outside.  They had a blast.  It didn’t hurt that the weather was spectacular and for the first day in a while they could just be outside playing.  Bubbles were certainly the hit of the basket.  Glad the Easter Bunny picked those up at the last minute at Target!

We had Easter dinner with our friends Vince and Marcy.  They invited us to their house in the late afternoon for dinner.  Marcy made a great ham and of course we all indulged in plenty of yummy food.  The kids and dogs, Denver got to come too, played outside all afternoon and into the evening.  Travis was watching the score on a hockey game, so in the end the kids ate outside and the parents ate while watching hockey.  I’m not sure I should admit that, but we all enjoyed it!  It is so nice to have friends that we can get together with and just be casual.  Our kids all play well together and the occasional fight is easily resolved.  Even better, it is generally resolved with little parent intervention.  I feel like hanging out with Vince and Marcy and their kids is one of the few times that I don’t have to be as on edge with my kids.  I’m not a hovering parent but my kids can be overwhelming to other kids and parents too.  Jack is intense, talks all the time and FULL of energy.  Garrett is more laid back but he can be just as loud and energetic at times.  I always am on guard to make sure they keep their activity down a bit with other kids or at other people’s houses, but when we hang out with Vince and Marcy it isn’t like that.  The kids personalities balance each other out.  And if something happens I know that everyone can discipline appropriately, so I don’t have to worry that my kid got blamed for something he didn’t do or didn’t get in trouble for something he started.  It just always works out the right way without issues.  On a Holiday where I am thankful for the resurrection and celebration of life, it is fitting to spend it with such good friends.  Thanks guys for having us over!  It was a perfect ending to a wonderful Easter!

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Backyard Egg Hunt Part 2

And another…

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Backyard Egg Hunt Part 1

A not so quick video of the boys hunting for eggs in the backyard.

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For the Family…Coloring Eggs Video

Disclaimer:  If you aren’t related to my kids, you probably have zero interest in watching them dye Easter Eggs.  However, if you are a grandparent or aunt or some other relation to us and you just can’t get enough of my crazy kiddos then knock yourself out.  This is a snippit of our egg coloring.

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Coloring Easter Eggs

On Saturday morning we colored Easter Eggs as a family.  For the second year in a row Mom wasn’t really thinking and bought brown eggs.  Doh!  Luckily, I had 3/4 of a dozen white eggs in the fridge.  I boiled up all my white eggs and some of the brown so the boys would each have a dozen eggs to dye.  Hopefully after this I will remember to get white eggs!

Both boys enjoyed coloring eggs.  We bought a traditional Paas color kit and then also got an egg stamping kit.  The stamping kit didn’t really work as stamps but it did work to just color the eggs.  G loved the regular dyes, mainly because he liked dropping the eggs in the cup.  Yes, he literally dropped them.  We had to do lots of helping so we wouldn’t have dye everywhere and broken eggs!  Jack actually loved painting the eggs.  It was great too, because it meant that the brown ones got a deeper color and turned out fine.  The regular dye wasn’t too successful on the brown eggs unless you used blue.  At least they are little and they don’t care!

A side note on the egg coloring.  We noticed that none of our egg colors held up to the dew in the grass this year.  They all seemed to run and get messy.  My poor egg salad had tinges of blue in green from the dye that seeped through when the kids cracked the eggs on their hunt.  Oddly enough, I heard at least two other friends complain about the same thing.  I’m wondering if they changed the dye this year??  So strange!

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The Circus

Recently the circus was in town.  For the past few years we have planned to make it to the circus but for some reason have had a conflict.  This year when we realized the circus was coming, we made plans to go.  Our week had been really crazy dealing with our house and Jack had been sick but we were determined to go to the circus.  Travis ended up getting tickets for a great deal to opening night on Craigslist.  Our seats were awesome and even though Jack was still feeling cruddy from nasty allergies, we all had a fabulous time.

This was the first time to the circus for me and the boys.  I remember going to the very small version of the circus that came to Alturas a few times when I was little but it was nothing like the real circus.  I think I was as excited as the kids were.  The animals were a big hit with both boys.  Garrett loved the trapeze artists and Jack thought the motorcycles riding inside the sphere was pretty neat.  I’ve got to be honest, the trapeze artists made me a little nauseous.  All the flipping and catching the bar was a little more than I could handle.  I’m not usually one to get worried or queasy over things like that, but it sort of freaked me out.  I enjoyed the show but, ugh, I’m not sure about the trapeze!

I’m quite sure there were two highlights to the night for the boys.  First off, when the show was about to start and we were heading to our seats an usher handed us flashing clown noses.  Garrett wore the clown nose almost the entire night.  He loved it.  Off and on, off and on.  He played with it the whole time he watched the show.  It was super cute.  Jack liked his too, but since part of his not feeling well was a yucky nose, I don’t think he was as much of a fan of actually wearing the nose.  The other big deal of the night was that we let them each have  a snow cone in a special take home clown cup.  We are pretty strict about food, so a treat like that was a huge deal!  Both boys were covered in an array of syrup colors and luckily only ate about 1/3 of the giant snow cone.  The cups are adorable and I’m sure will get lots of use this summer with ice cream.

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