Monthly Archives: October 2013

Rite of Passage

There are certain things you remember, big moments that, upon reflection were turning points in your life. Learning to tie your shoes, ride a bike, pour your own milk and using sharp objects to cut. Scissors were first, then butter knives, then real knives and now a pumpkin saw. You know you’ve arrived when you can be trusted with sharp objects.

First, you’ve got to choose the right pumpkin. B had three that he had chosen in early October and have been lying in wait on our front porch deflecting squirrels daily just to get the chance to be chosen as his FIRST carved pumpkin, quite an honor! We opened the fancy pumpkin carving kit, examined our tools and decided on a template. For obvious reasons, we went with “beginner” level for the carving.

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Daddy guiding B’s wee hand along the top cut.

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Okay, so we didn’t totally surrender cutting this massive squash to our (almost) three year old. We’re not totally crazy, but B got the V.I.P knife talk and he definitely sawed that gourd.
He did seem to enjoy the gutting part the most however.

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He cut, rolled and tapped his pumpkin head until the design was done. Then we set it out on the front porch with the others. I had purchased some “safety” battery operated flicker lights, much to B’s sadness. Knives were a lot for one day… be patient my son… one day we will teach you to command fire too. You have much to learn little one. For now, just smile at the camera so mommy can commemorate (sniff, sniffle) another milestone.

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What are your favorite family traditions on Halloween?

Detroit Time Machine

Greenfield Village is an authentic time machine that can transport you into Edison’s workshop and the very chair he used while inventing the incandescent light bulb or into the Wright brothers family kitchen. Take a horse and buggy ride, cruise in a model T Ford or chug along on a steam train.

The one hundred year old carousel is magical and the village green is the perfect spot for a family game of “tag”. You can bring your own picnic lunch or enjoy a healthy snack (most likely grown or made in the Village) from one of their shops. With all of that, they’ve gone and topped it!

Introducing (drum roll, please) the new playscape!

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A huge Firestone tire replica spins round and round in one corner and the two-story water tower shines in the weak October sun, highlighting three ways to go up and down! It’s fully fenced in with a staff member at the entrance/exit to guide young explorers. It has something for every age group, even the adults! Our first time there we spent two hours and only explored half of the playscape!

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Of course there’s a Ford flatbed truck! Climb in the drivers seat, turn on the engine and imagine yourself trolling along. Just in front of its bumper is the sandbox, of course it wouldn’t be complete without a life-size excavator, right? Then there is the ten foot high pumping station that spits out real water (even at the end of October) and the swing set that will delight infants and gymnasts alike.

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You can sing “row, row, row your boat” at the top of your lungs!

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Learn about the physics of water flow…

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Place different shaped wood pieces at different intervals to create a damn or a waterfall…

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Regardless of your intent, you won’t be able to stop the mystical time tunnel that is, Greenfield Village.

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Potty details:
Proper restrooms with changing tables, family restrooms with rockers for nursing and real soap and towels to dry are everywhere throughout the village.

Cost:
This place is not cheap. We do get a membership each year with ride passes and at nearly $370.00, it is triple the cost of our zoo or science center memberships, but completely worth it.

Parking:
Easy and free if you are a member. Easy, still, even if you’re not a member, they just add the cost onto your ticket,

As always, these are simply my own opinions and observations. I did not in ANY way get compensated for this review.

Do you have a favorite play area around town? Write it in the replies, or if you’ve already written about it, post your link 🙂

Family Fun at Farmer Charley’s

Farmer Charley’s off Nadeau Rd. and interstate 75 is our favorite place for family fun for two reasons… The HOPPER and the Pumpkin CANNON!

The Hopper is a HUGE bounce house floor (25 yards X 10 yards, maybe?) buried in what looks like a sandy beach volleyball court next to their corn maze. Our kid looooves a bounce house and this one is huge and more importantly, well-monitored by a staff member. Only a few kids of equal size allowed on for two minute intervals. You may not, but I have an unusual fear of a head injury being caused by this “kid-friendly” activity, but here, I feel SAFE(er), more than anywhere else at least.

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The pumpkin cannon is something we cannot find anywhere else and we talk about ALL YEAR! The crew welded their own metal pieces together, painted it army green and powered it with an air compressor (so no “kick back” like a real big gun/cannon, for those of you who may be familiar). For $20 we got about twenty minutes of punkin’ chunkin’ fun!

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The farm even has huge wooden “targets” cut out and painted for Halloween. There is something so satisfying about having those mini pumpkins SMACK and SPLATTER against the face of a jack-o-lantern.

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I’ll be honest, this is something we ALL look forward to!

They have a smorgasbord of activities at this family farm that are all kitschy and totally awesome. I couldn’t get pictures of everything and still enjoy my family because it’s a thrill a minute!

1) Pig races with an announcer and prizes.
2) Hayrides back to the pumpkin patch
3) A very challenging corn maze that was laser cut into their field to look like Spider-Man this year. They take a poll on their Facebook page every year.
4) Barrel train rides with a souped up riding mower as the engine driven by a descendent of Mario Andretti.
5) A huge firepit is lit every night that you can warm up to or buy s’mores kits at their bakery and roast ’em up!
6) Their bakery has apple cider slushies, warm apple cider, hot cocoa, coffee and every type of fancy cookie and doughnut you may be craving.
7) A massive dirt/sand box with toys
8) A few tether ball poles (the only thing my kid likes more than jumping is hitting/throwing a ball)

We practiced roping cattle…

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Racing rubber duckies…

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There is a tent where they make fresh kettle corn right in front of you. Next door is a snack shack you can order any number of artery-clogging fried goodies, including corn dogs on a stick, quite a novelty! You may not bring your own food, so try to eat beforehand. There is a huge tent with lots of picnic tables however, if the mood strikes you to sit and nosh on some carnival-esque foods.

The fun was everywhere to be had, even in the most simple of things. They had tractors from a nearby dealership that we loved exploring, pushing buttons and honking the horn.

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We rolled around and around all over the great lawn in plastic drainage tubes. This idea was genius!

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Of course, no farm would be complete without farm animals. We enjoyed petting, feeding and talking to the goats, cow and sheep.

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Thursday nights are family night, so if you bring a can/box of non-perishable food you can get a discounted admission. It was also not as crowded (read, less lines) on a Thursday night versus a weekend afternoon. We purchased “bounce back” tickets at half price before we left to visit again.
I hope we get to use them again this week, my trigger finger is getting itchy 😉

Potty details:
Port-a-John use only, but they are not totally horrible. Plus, my kid looooves a urinal. Hey, anything to encourage potty-training, right?

What’s your favorite Fall Family Fun place to visit?

3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

3 ingredient, gluten-free peanut butter cookies:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1 egg
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of peanut butter

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Mix all ingredients into one bowl. Stir until well-combined. Roll into balls. Place on a well-greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet and press down with the tines of a fork to make the classic peanut butter cookie criss-cross pattern.

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Bake for 11 minutes, or until slightly browned. Allow to set for a few minutes, then place on a cooling rack.

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I double dog dare you NOT to eat these all in one night!

What’s your favorite gluten-free dessert recipe?

Costume Police!

You might get ticketed by the costume police when you’ve got a matching vehicle as a part of the design. We “spared no expense” as they said on Jurassic Park… Oy! I justify the expense by telling myself, “I only have one child and there are a finite amount of Halloweens…yadda, yadda”, you know the lies we tell ourselves.

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I fell in love with it at first sight! I love the hat, the boots, the badge, I love it all! Not to mention, B seems to like it too.

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A tip ‘o the hat and my heart swooned. No warm blooded mommy could say no to this, right?

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There he goes, having stolen my poor heart!

What costumes are your kiddos wearing this year?

Veggie Toddler Cookies?!?

I couldn’t believe it when I read the Spouse in the House blog this morning. Veggie cookies?!? Since all my little guy does is bite a carrot or broccoli and spit it out, I needed a new way to add more vegetables into his day. I’ve been using Deceptively Delicious for macaroni and cheese, meatballs and sauce as well as morning pancakes but a “cookie” really kicks it up a notch. So, I walked straight into the kitchen and started pulling ingredients out. I didn’t have zucchini or carrot but I did have puréed apple and a small bag of frozen kale left over from our CSA basket.

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Here is what I did:
2 cups oatmeal (or more to get a cookie dough consistency)
2 bananas (the browner the better)
1/3 cup apples (I had a ton from apple picking so I just used a few cubes that I had puréed and frozen)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup kale (I minced it in my mini food processor)
3 Tablespoons Raw honey (mine was from a hive at a raspberry farm – yummy)
1 pint blueberries (had them around, so I figured I would toss them in)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

I added everything into one big bowl and mashed it with a potato masher. It was a little watery so I added about a half cup more oatmeal.

I lined a cookie sheet with parchment paper and patted twelve “cookies” into shape. I wasn’t sure if they’d be spreading or staying put, so I spread them out.

Bake for 15 minutes

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They did not spread at all and came out of the oven in 15 minutes firm on the outside and cake-like on the inside. Perfect.

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I “shared” three hot out of the oven with B. He said they were yummy too!
Thank you Spouse in the House, please go to their blog and check out the original recipe I found that inspired me to write two blogs in one day!!

Do you have a healthy veggie recipe that’s a hit at your house?

Back to Detroit (…Waldorf)

Seasonal scents of applesauce and soups dance down the hallways with the sounds of children singing and making music. As my little guy leans his head on my shoulder, still not sure about coming back to “school”, his tense muscles begin to relax and he starts to peek up. Slowly, he asks to slide down so he can walk on his own as we approach Miss Maggie’s Parent-Tot Classroom.

Leaving our shoes and bags in a cubby outside the room entrance, Miss Maggie greets us warmly, washing B’s hands for him with a cloth warmed with lavender and water. I wash my hands too and bring the cloth to the tot-sized table as we take a seat and begin to chat with our neighbors while peeling and slicing apples from the mounding bowl on the table. Everyone joins in as an easy rhythym begins and the children start to lose interest in the apple slicing and explore the simple wooden toys in a peacefully muted play area.

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Miss Maggie invites the class to sing the “Good Morning song” with lots of big movements that encourage the children to stretch and giggle. This easily transitions into holding hands for a lively game of Ring-Around-the-Rosie where the “cows are in the meadow eating buttercups” (B’s faaaavorite part). After independent play and quiet parent observation she offers some talking points about the development and education of our tots and then prepares the table for snack.

I absolutely love that we MADE our own snack from scratch, have been smelling it cooking the entire morning and will now get to share it with our friends! I was nervous at first about the bowls and teacups being “real”, in other words they would break if they dropped, but it feels very special and sweet to be sipping out of them. The very shape and weight of a teacup seems to encourage delicacy.

Of course the children should have “real” tools to work with, and in twelve weeks I’ve never seen one break once. A candle is lit and a non-denominational “blessings on our snack” is said before we pour water or tea from glass pitchers into our grandmother-esque teacup and pass a bowl of almonds or berries around the table to top our freshly made applesauce. What a treat!

A relaxing, bonding and educational morning for my son and myself. I feel a collective “sigh” as class comes to a close and we pick up our bags and our tots to head outside to the beautifully natural play area.

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The Detroit Waldorf School has given my son and I a local opportunity to connect with nature and our neighbors once a week. The six week parent-tot sessions are short enough to get a good sized sample of the Waldorf education model and early childhood curriculum without a huge commitment. It’s definitely been a joy for us.

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