Tuesday, September 25, 2012

When 80 cents is worth a thousand words.

Who knew that this little white board would be so much fun?

It was an impulse buy at the secondhand store this summer, bought with the thought of enhancing my market booth ("People love to read chalkboards!" another vendor told me.)

While this white board has been to the market with me quite a few times now, it's main use is in the living room.  Lists, pictures, dictations.  This board really spiced up this past summer's Mommy Camp.  It helps us get our chores done.  It occupies children during the dinner-prep hour.  It encourages creativity when getting out all the art supplies seems like a chore itself.  It wipes clean in about 4 seconds.

For this much fun, I would have gladly paid double.

Monday, September 24, 2012

When a chicken egg is a little scary.

Look what we found in the nest box the other day.

I know, kinda creepy.

At first we just starred at it.

Then we touched it.

Finally someone got brave enough to eat it.

Turns out, there was not a baby dinosaur inside, like some of us thought.

Just two cheerful yolks, waiting to nourish us.

Thanks, chickens!

Friday, September 14, 2012

How the library told me I'm a Dog Person.

I was getting our ever-widening stack of library books ready to return, when I realized that unintentional themes frequently appear in this stack.  About a year ago, I was reading books that looked like this.

And over the summer, we went through a phase that looked like this.

kids cookbooks!

And the themes aren't limited to books.  Remember this?

Most recently, I noticed a bunch of these books.

That's right.  Dog-themed poetry.

I know, it seems silly, but ever since we welcomed this big personality into our home,

we have all become Dog People.

We were just tickled to read aloud these poems, all from the point of view of various dogs.  And we can relate.

From Stella, Unleashed, entitled For Butch, Who Went Off to Obedience School

They wanted a complaint dog
who wouldn't drool or shed,
who'd lie contented at their feet
(instead of on their bed),
who'd never track in dirt or mud,
who'd do just as they wish,
who wouldn't dig or chew or snore . . .

they should have bought a fish.

Or how about this one from Good Dog, from a Boston Terrier?  I think I like it because our terrier mix has the same cheerful zest.

Oh yes, oh yes!
Well, first I went,
I went to the vet.
And yes, I was, 
I was good.

And then, and then
we went to the park.
And yes, I ran.
I ran and ran!

And next, then next 
I saw a cat!
And yes, I chased
and growled and barked.
I showed that cat!

So now! What now?
Oh yes, a kiss!
And still a scratch,
and then,
just then,
I'll lay

Our dog is forever curious about what's going on in the neighborhood.

Just like this one from Stella, Unleashed; Dispatch From the Front Lawns

Spike was digging holes again.
Winnie woke up late.
Uh-oh! Bruno's on the loose
(they haven't fixed that gate.)

Mugsy stomped the daffodils.
Sulu lost her shoes.
Quit pulling, please!
I need some time to sniff the latest news.

This dog is enriching our lives in all sorts of ways!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Trash-free Lunch Challenge. Are you in?

Whew!  That first week of school is now behind us.  The flurry of emotions, parking lot confusion, and school uniforms has found its new normal.  We all know what to expect each day, and we're up for it.  This year will be a good one.

I'm ready to take it to the next level.  Are you?

I'm talking about Trash-Free Lunches.

I've been addressing this on and off over the last few years, as I've been packing snacks and lunches for my two scholars.

And it's rubbing off.  The other day, after driving past an unnaturally large and stinky landfill, my first grader asked me, "Mommy, how can I make the garbage dumps smaller?"

Wow.  How would you answer this question?

After a pause, I could only come up with, "Well, we could quit making trash."

I'm not sure if our house is ready for the concentrated effort of the Zero Waste Home (who introduced me to my favorite alternative to recycling, which is refusing), but what we can commit to Zero Waste Lunches.

And it's not that hard.

I'm proud to announce that we ate trash-free lunches for the entire first week of school!  (Does it count that I forgot to recycle the Have-a-great-day-love-mom notes that I sent that first day?)

Wondering how to send a trash-free lunch?  Well, it starts by politely refusing the school lunch, which comes on a styrofoam tray and consists of packaged nuggets and other food-like substances.  You are the parent.  Send your child actual food.

Here's what my kids get:

1. dinner leftovers in a thermos or a sandwich in a reusable Sandwich Wrap

2. a piece of fruit or cut veggies in a reusable container
3. something snacky, like crackers and cheese, or a little tub of raisins/nuts/pretzels (in the ideal world, I would buy these in bulk and further reduce the trash component, but hey, it's a process, and I'm not quite there yet)

4. a cloth napkin
5. silverware (yes, they actually bring this home!)
6. a glass jar with water (the plastic water bottles never seem to get clean and the scent creeps me out, so we use glass jars with lids.  My first grader is having a tough time unscrewing hers, and is [hopefully] asking for help as a way to make friends.)

Who out there is willing to take the Trash-Free Lunch Challenge?
What other ideas do you have for trash-free lunches?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Another retailer is selling My Detroit Garden!

I'm pleased at announce that another local retailer is selling My Detroit Garden on its shelves!  I'm especially excited because it's one of our favorite places to spend an hour or three.

Nicola's Books!

This charming independent bookstore offers not only an impressive selection of books, but also hosts author evenings, storytimes, and other fun events.  And for the frugalista in all of us, they send you a coupon for $8 off any book on your birthday.

Here we are getting friendly with one of our favorite historical fiction authors, Christopher Paul Curtis, at one of Nicola's author evenings.

Nicola's has an entire area for children's books by local authors, and another area for Michigan gardeners, and another area with staff recommendations and reviews.  Plus there is a wonderful aroma that wafts in from the neighboring bagel shop.

My daughter said it best when she looked at me and said, "No offense, Mom, but I want to live here."

So if you are looking for My Detroit Garden in the Ypsi/Ann Arbor area, pop in to Nicola's, The Little Seedling, or the Ypsi Food Co-op.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Thinking of book talks.

It's back to school time at our house and we're all excited about it!  We had a really fun and full summer, but doesn't it seem like just yesterday when school was in session last spring?  Kids were coming home with more and more freckles each day, as they had outdoor recess, outdoor phys ed class, field day, and various other outdoor fun.  I was popping into all sorts of classes, sharing the joy that is My Detroit Garden and bringing along a seed planting activity as well.  That's right, I brought soil.  Into schools.

We had a great time reading the book and discussing key words such as author, illustrator, spine, soil, compost.  Then we planted seeds into plantable containers with some careful instructions (No flooding! No tipping!).  Students, teachers, and author had fun, memorable times with these book talks.

The day after one particularly sweet time, the teacher handed me a large manilla envelope containing an impressive stack of thank-you notes written by kindergarteners.  Oh, the joy that was in that envelope!

Dear Mrs. Middaugh, Thank you for the book and the seed. I hope you have a great day.  From Anna.

I think my favorite was this one:

I love you, Mrs. Middaugh. You are the best in the land.

As classes start up this fall, I wonder what adventures the school year will bring.