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Archive for July, 2008

We’re Moving!

I will be taking a break from writing for about a week because my daughter and I are moving. Don’t worry we aren’t leaving Columbus, just moving to a new neighborhood.

Moving is absolutely crazy, especially with a toddler. So for the next week, I will be packing, painting, and moving! 

[Photo credit: Box]

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Recently, I have been trying to figure out why my dishwasher smelled. It smelled like spoiled milk even after I ran it. This has been going on for a few weeks.

Then, I discovered the source of the foul oder. It was the sippy cups! I was letting my daughter drink from stinky sippy cups. Oh the mommy guilt! 

I asked another mom what was up with this. She told me that she had the same problem and her solution was to replace the sippy cups periodically. What a pain!

I did some research. I read other blogs to find out what people were saying about sippy cups and reusable bottles. 

My solution was to buy a Klean Kanteen for the munchkin, and recycle all our plastic sippy cups. I decided to buy a Klean Kanteen because the bottles are made from stainless steel, which according to their website says keeps the bottles from absorbing odors or causing drinks to taste funky. The bottles are also BPA-free. (Here is an article about plastics containing BPA. Another thing to worry about!)

Here is the Klean Kanteen review from Tree Hugging Family. The site also reviewed Sigg bottles. But according to the Sigg website, Sigg isn’t able to fill orders right now because of high demand. So, that wasn’t an option. 

The Klean Kanteen website was out of the sippy cups bottles, so I purchased the bottle from Maple Grace website.  I bought one 12 ounce bottle, which came with two convertors and two spouts. I also bought two extra spouts for good measure.  The bottle cost $17.95 and the spouts were $5.45. Yes, it was expensive. My hope is that I will never have to replace the Klean Kanteen. When she is older, we can switch from the sippy cup spouts to the sports top.

Verdict: We have been using the Klean Kanteen for one week, and so far it’s pretty good. No odors. It does keep water and milk colder than the usual sippy cup, especially when I throw a few ice cubes in. I have been handwashing it because that is what the company recommends it. The easiest way to wash the Klean Kanteen is to use the bottle brush that I used when my daughter was using bottles. 

The only downside is sometimes a little milk leaks out from the top of the bottle. It is leaking from the seal between the convertor and the spouts. 

Overall, I am happy with the purchase, and I do plan on buying another bottle so that we have two. 

[Photo Credit: Klean Kanteen]

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I love National Public Radio (NPR). I listen to it all the time – in the car, while making breakfast, and taking a shower. My favorite program on NPR is This I Believe.

This I Believe is based on a 1950’s radio program. It is a series that invites ordinary Americans to write an essay that is “a statement of your personal beliefs, of the values which rule your thought and action. ” 

The essays read on NPR are thoughtful and beautiful. 

One of my favorite essays is written by Wayne Coyne, the lead singer of The Flaming Lips. His essay is titled Creating Our Own Happiness.

Here is an excerpt from this essay: “I believe this is something all of us can do: Try to be happy within the context of the life we’re actually living. Happiness is not a situation to be longed for, or a convergence of lucky happenstance. Through the power of our own minds, we can help ourselves. This I believe.”

Visit the This I Believe website for essays that have been read on NPR. The local Columbus NPR station is WCBE 90.5.

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I had a reader today ask me about parks in Columbus. We are new to the park scene this summer and still discovering Columbus’s parks and playgrounds.

Last summer, the munchkin was too small for parks.Now, we love a good park. With a 19-month old, my criteria for a good park is a good playground. 

One of my favorite parks is Goodale Park located in Victorian Village.  Goodale Park has two playgrounds – one for younger kids and one for older kids. The playground for the younger kids has baby swings – a must in our park criteria.

Goodale Park also has a lot of open space for the pumpkin to run around in and sidewalks that cross through the park. 

Another favorite park is Homestead Park near Hilliard. Homestead has one of the largest playground areas that I’ve seen in Columbus, and is in three separate areas inside the park. The toddler area has baby swings and a sand-area that is perfect for the little ones. It is located near the front of the park.

The second playground area has a section for younger kids with baby swings and smaller equipment, and an area with larger equipment for older kids. The two areas are connected together, which is good for parents with kids of different ages. 

The third area in Homestead Park is a waterpark. Again, there are two areas for the waterpark – one for older kids and one for younger kids. The water area for younger kids has faucets the children can turn on that flow into metal basins. My daughter enjoys this area. She is too young to turn the faucets on herself, so I do that for her. The waterpark for the older kids is called Fort Washington, and both times we’ve been there this summer, kids are running around spraying each other with water guns.

Both parks are great, and we are frequent visitors. In addition to these parks, we also love Slate Run Metro Park and Farm and the fountains at Ballantrea Park

Locations: Goodale Park is located one block west of High Street at W. Goodale Street and Park Street in the Victorian Village. Homestead Park is at 4675 Cosgray Road, Hilliard, Ohio 43026.

What other parks are great in Columbus?

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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is one of the largest attractions for kids in Columbus, and with good reason. The zoo is a fabulous place for kids.

My daughter had her first trip to the zoo at five months. At five months old, her favorite exhibit was the aquarium. She loved the movement and colors.

Now at 18 months-old, she still loves the aquarium. Her other favorite animals are the lions, komodo dragon, monkeys, and kangaroos. Petting the goats is also a favorite. She loves seeing the animals up close.

She also adores the animal statues located throughout the zoo. She’ll climb on them, give them hugs, and point out their noses, which makes for great photo opportunities. 

In addition to all the usual animal attractions, the zoo also has a carousal that the pumpkin loves riding. The other rides inside the zoo are the boat ride and and train. The price for all rides is a $1 per person. 

The only negative to the zoo is the price. However, if you plan on visiting the zoo frequently, having a membership is great. We have saved a lot of money with our membership. We go for a few hours and don’t feel obligated to stay all day to get our money’s worth.

Another way to reduce costs on trips to the zoo is to pack snacks and drinks. The zoo has lots of eating and drinking options, but the price adds up. 

Where: 4850 West Powell Road, Powell, Ohio 43065.

Hours: From Labor Day to Memorial Day, the zoo is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. From June 25 to August 20, the zoo is open on Wednesdays until 8 p.m.

Fee: General admission is $10 per person, $7 for 2 to 9 years old and 60 and up. Under two years old is free. 

Parking: Parking is $5 per car, but it is free with a membership.

[Photo Credit: Elephants]

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Check out Ms. Single Mama’s great post about Play-Doh.

We haven’t introduced Play-Doh into our house yet. I’m afraid at 18-months-old, my daughter will just eat it. Now, I’m scared of the mess I will be facing! But life with kids is messy…

Check out the great comments left by all the readers. Looks like I will be buying some cookie cutters! 

[Photo Credit: Play-Doh]

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I used to make french toast with just egg, milk, and vanilla. No measuring, just mix it up and dipped the bread in. I thought it was one of those things I didn’t need a recipe for. Then my sister made me this french toast. I have been using this recipe ever since.

The recipe is adopted from The New Best Recipes cookbook, from the editors of “Cook’s Illustrated”. All the recipes in the book are considered the best recipes by the editors. The two recipes I make most often from the book are the pancake and french toast recipes. They are both great.

My daughter loves the french toast, which is a great way to use up stale bread.  I usually use Honey Whole Wheat bread from Great Harvest Bread Company. 

The Best French Toast

Ingredients:
1 large egg 
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 slices day-old bread
oil to grease the pan 

1. Heat the pan over medium heat for a few minutes.
2. Beat the egg lightly in a shallow dish or pie plate. Whisk in melted butter, milk and vanilla. Then add sugar, flour, and salt. Whisk until the mixture is smooth.  
3. Dip the bread in the egg mixture – about 30 seconds on each side. Let the excess drip off each slice back into the pan. 
4. Coat the pan with butter or oil, then cook the bread on each side until golden brown – about two minutes for the first side and one minute for the second side. 

Note: I use whole wheat bread, which seems to cook better if cooked at a slightly lower heat (medium-low) for a longer time – maybe three minutes for the first side and two minutes for the second.

I always cook extra french toast and re-heat the next morning in the toaster oven for about five minutes. Re-heating in the oven or toaster oven keeps the bread crispy, not soggy.

[Photo Credit: French Toast]

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Last week, my daughter and I went to the Franklin Park Conservatory to see the butterfly exhibit.

The Franklin Park Conservatory is an indoor botanical garden with more than 400 species of plants in a variety of climate settings. The annual Blooms and Butterflies exhibit transforms one of the gardens into a butterfly habitat.

The pumpkin liked seeing the butterflies up close. She loved running up and down the paths in the gardens. The butterfly garden has a pond with koi fish, and the fish were a hit. For an 18-month-old, the fish were more interesting than the butterflies.

We happened to be there at 3:00 p.m., when the staff does the daily butterfly release, which would have been more interesting if she would have stood still long enough to let me see the butterflies being released. 

We also went into the Palm Room, which was very hot. It would have been appreciated more in cooler weather. The area with the butterflies was not as warm. 

The butterfly exhibit is open until September 7, 2008. We had a good time at the conservatory. However, I would recommend a visit to the conservatory for children older than 18 months.  

Where: 1777 E Broad StreeetColumbus. There is free parking. 

Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Wednesdays 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Fee: $7.50 for adults. $6.00 for seniors and students. $4.00 for children 2- 12. Children under 2 are free. The conservatory does have memberships. 

[Photo Credit: Butterfly]

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The Toddler Cafe by Jennifer Carden is my favorite children’s cookbook. I read several baby / toddler cookbooks when my daughter started eating solid foods last year. I never used any of the recipes because they were mostly combinations of foods – pears and cottage cheese, and the books were boring.

This book is different. It is filled with unique and interesting recipes, and good advice on feeding children. 

Now, I haven’t had the opportunity to make any of the recipes yet. Life has been completely too crazy for me to make a list, go to the grocery store, buy ingredients, and follow a recipe. After the munchkin and I finish moving and are settled in our new home, I plan on trying lots of these recipes.

So what can I tell you then? The recipes in this book look yummy and interesting. The recipes are simple and healthy. I have read the book’s introduction, and I like the author’s attitude towards eating and cooking with kids. She believes that parents need to foster a positive attitude between children and food, and that mealtime should be “fun and interactive.”

The introduction also has great ideas about how to make mealtime more creative and fun, such as telling your child that the food they are eating is their favorite character’s favorite food. 

Some recipes that I can’t wait to make are:
Lily Pad Pancakes – pancakes made with frozen peas,
Starry Night Stew – black bean and pasta stew,
Toddler Truffles – black beans truffles,
Treasure Triangles – puff pastry with black beans and bananas,
PB&J French Toast – a peanut butter and jelly sandwich dipped in egg and milk and cooked until golden brown, 
Peanut Butter Globe Globs – globs of peanut butter mixed with honey, oats, and cereal.

(Yes, we love black beans in this family. And yes, it makes for fun diapers!)

Check out this book. It has great ideas and fun recipes. It is available from the Columbus Metropolitan Library. You can also visit The Toddler Cafe blog.  I will keep you posted as to when we finally get to cook up some of these fantastic looking recipes.

[Photo Credit: Book Cover]

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I got this idea from Me, The Trees and the Girls blog. Thank you for the wonderful post!

If you want to smile and feel better about humanity, watch the Dave Matthews Band video for Everyday.

It will make you smile (Or tear up as I did. Yes, I am a sap.) and want to hug someone. 

So watch the video and give someone a hug today!

[Photo Credit: Dave]

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