When the weather starts getting warm, my family immediately starts planning trips to the beach, playdates at the zoo and picnics at the park. Since tomorrow is expected to be beautiful – and it’s Fun Day Friday – it is going to be a perfect day to have a cookout.
Cooking and eating dinner at the park is one of The Goose’s absolute favorite things to do. And I love it, too. It’s cheap, there is very little clean-up, and it is easy – especially since I keep a picnic basket stocked with all of the cookout items we’ll need (other than the food, of course)! I just grab the bag, throw it in the car and head to the park.
Every night, The Goose and I watch Reading Rainbow on the iPad before going to sleep. (Read more about How Reading Rainbow Changed My Life here). A few nights ago, The Goose chose a book called Magic Trash. I was half-listening and half-going over my to do list for the next day when I heard the words Detroit and Mt. Elliott. (If you’re not familiar with Detroit, Mt. Elliott is a street on the East Side that is in an impoverished area of the city). Immediately, my ears perked up and I knew exactly what the book was about.
Magic Trash is a book about Tyree Guyton, the artist who started The Heidelberg Project.
Tyree used art to transform his neighborhood – an area of Detroit that was plagued by crime, covered with abandoned homes and burn down bulidings – into an artistically interesting place that attracted residents from across Metro Detroit, the country and the world.
Last week The Goose was on spring break. Since my mom is in town visiting, and we’re saving all of our vacation resources for a big trip later this year, we decided to have a week-long staycation… or, as The Goose called it, a playcation. We had a lot of fun and made it a point to do something fun and exciting every day of the week.
We started our playcation last Friday, his first official day off. We went to Chuck E. Cheese for lunch and to play arcade games. Even though we’ve been there a dozen times, we still had a lot of fun. In the past, The Goose has always been terrified of Chuck E. Cheese (the mouse, not the arcade), and has never gotten close to him. (He even kept a safe distance when we had his birthday party there!). This time, however, was different.
Don’t get me wrong – we’re really nice people. We’re friendly, we get along with everybody, and we keep our house looking nice. But trust me, you wouldn’t want to be our neighbor. Here’s why…
- We forget to take down holiday decorations. That’s why, even though it’s almost April, our Christmas wreath is still hanging on our front door. If you don’t like celebrating Christmas all year round, you don’t want to be my neighbor.
- We love birds. We’re obsessed. We have eight bird feeders in our yard. During the summer our yard is often swarmed with birds of all shapes and sizes. If you don’t like being woken up at sunrise by a blue jay screaming at the top of his lungs, you don’t want to be my neighbor.
- We also love squirrels. And squirrels love us. So much that they built a nest in our backyard tree, near our squirrel feeder that is always full of peanuts. Our squirrels will dig up your backyard, hiding nuts all summer, and then they will start digging again the following spring, trying to find that nuts they buried. It’s a vicious circle. If you don’t like finding holes in your yard, you don’t want to be my neighbor.
- We are loud. In the mornings you you will hear me asking The Goose, louder and louder, to put down the stick, rock, or handful of dirt, and get in the car before we’re late for school. After school you will hear me, once again, asking him to put down the stick, rock, or handful of dirt, and come inside so we can have a snack and finish homework. If you like a quiet, peaceful neighborhood, you don’t want to be my neighbor.
- The Goose doesn’t like to get wet or dirty. If he spills water on his pants, drips a popsicle on his shirt, or steps in mud he will immediately take all of his clothes off. This means that during the summer you will see my kid running around in his underpants at least once. If you like all kids to be fully clothed, you don’t want to be my neighbor.
- We spend a lot of time outside. And no matter the season – winter, spring, summer or fall – our backyard is always covered in toys. From buckets and pails in the summer, to sleds and shovels in the winter. If you don’t like seeing piles of toys outside, you don’t want to be my neighbor.
- We have a big garden, and wild animals love fresh produce. At any given time, there will be rabbits, groundhogs or ducks hanging out in our yard, nibbling on green beans, yanking pepper plants out of the ground, or eating whole stalks of broccoli. If you don’t like wild animals eating your plants, you don’t want to be my neighbor.
- We like to keep our garden as organic as possible, so we have a large compost tumbler and three rain barrels in our back yard. We throw all of our fruit and vegetable scraps into our composter, and we collect rain water in our barrels to water our garden. If rotting vegetation isn’t your thing, you don’t want to be my neighbor.
- We host loud, obnoxious parties in our back yard. We hold water balloon fights on the fourth of July, Easter egg hunts in the spring, and have blow up bounce houses on birthdays. If you don’t like strange kids running around your house, you don’t want to be my neighbor.
- The Goose plays a lot of different sports. On any given day, footballs, baseballs or soccer balls will come flying into your yard. Most of the time The Goose will come right over to retrieve them. Sometimes he won’t. If you don’t like finding random sporting equipment (or my kid retrieving it) in your yard, then you don’t want to be my neighbor.
It may be hard to believe, but spring is on it’s way. To us, that means one thing: It’s time to start planning our family garden!
I started my first garden nearly 10 years ago, long before I was married, when I was still living alone in my first house. It was a container garden, and I grew tomatoes, green peppers and jalapenos (all vegetables that I didn’t actually like, but that I’d heard were easy to grow). I still remember the thrill and excitement that I would feel each time I went outside to water my plants, and I’d find a new flower blossoming or a new fruit dangling on the vine.
Today marks 100 days of school for The Goose. During their mid-winter break last week, all of the kids were given the assignment of doing some type of project to commemorate the day, whether it was making a poster, putting together a collection of 100 things, or wearing a T-shirt about the 100th day. The Goose and I scoured Pinterest looking for projects that we liked, and we found a lot of cute ideas.
When we were looking for ideas for our 100 days of school project, The Goose wanted to make something fun, and I wanted to make something using materials we already had around the house. One project we liked was a hot air balloon that was made using 100 deflated balloons. But, we didn’t have 100 balloons laying around the house, so that one was out. Next, we found a gumball machine that was filled with 100 poms. But The Goose wasn’t willing to give up his poms because we use them for all sorts of games at home, so that one was out. We also found a cool sculpture made out of 100 Legos, but since the projects were going on display at school, The Goose didn’t want to take the chance of losing his Legos.
The Goose has been on mid-winter break this week, which means he doesn’t have school for five whole days! Last year when he was on break we went to Cheboygan for a few days to visit my mom. This year we decided to do the same thing.
On our way up north, The Goose was sure to tell me about all his plans for our trip. He was going to go swimming at the beach. He was going to go to Yeck’s for some dinosaur chicken nuggets. He was going to go to the Big Dipper for some ice cream. And then we were going to go golfing in Mackinaw City. Once we arrived, and he saw that it was even colder and snowier here than it was at home, his plans quickly changed.
Sometimes it seems like getting kids to actually sit down and eat dinner is an impossible task… at least at my house. To be honest, The Goose has never been much of an eater. When he was a toddler simply mentioning the word “snack” would cause a meltdown of epic proportions complete with screaming, throwing himself on the floor, the works. When it came time to eat a meal at the table, we had to use some pretty creative methods to keep him interested.
Through the years we’ve tried several techniques to encourage The Goose to eat – and some have worked better than others. We’ve tried everything from “Who can finish their breakfast first?” to “If you finish your lunch you can have a piece of candy.” (This from a woman who was once convinced she’d never, ever resort to bribery to get her kid to do something).
At our house, we don’t watch a lot of TV, so we have never felt the need to have cable television. To us, it would just be another expense that, quite frankly, wouldn’t be worth it for us. Instead, we borrow DVDs from our library and we use on-demand services for streaming media.
We love having streaming media services because we can watch shows on our iPad, our computers and even our phones! We also stream videos to our television using our Wii, but you can also use a Playstation, an xBox or even Roku box (or a Roku stick if you have a newer TV).
During the past few days we’ve had record breaking snow fall, and The Goose is having his second snowday in a row. While I love having him home with me, I sometimes struggle with finding fun snowday activities to keep him busy.
If you’re in the same boat, check out this list for a bit of inspiration!