Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Wheeler Farm

Feeding the ducks is always a fun activity at Wheeler Farm. But there is so much more than just ducks! And I think that our exploration of the farm just scratched the surface. Wandering around the farm is FREE!! (Best price ever!) Sidenote: When I was growing up, my mom said that Wheeler Farm used to charge. I always just assumed it still did. I don't know when it changed but now it is part of Salt Lake County Parks and it really is free! There are a few activities (like watching the cows get milked or going on a wagon ride) that charge a minimal amount.

Devin enjoyed seeing animals. And following his cousin. He liked playing in the old tree house.

But his absolute favorite part...

We went a month or so ago with a friend to Wheeler Farm. Devin apparently has an amazing memory. As soon as he saw the tractor he started signing "help" then grabbed my hand and practically sprinted to the tractor. He remembered driving it and was so excited to do it again. He knew that he needed my help to be lifted up onto the seat. (I never know what Devin understands or if he is too little to get things. But this was an eye opening moment for me. He not only understands, he remembers!! He is definitely old enough to enjoy field trips!)

So... pack a picnic... grab a jacket... save your old bread... Wheeler Farm is calling your name! 4 tractor wheels approved! :)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Raking Leaves

There is something magical about playing the leaves this time of year.

Crisp. Color. Cool. 

And Devin enjoyed helping as well. I gave  him a "Devin sized rake" (aka hand trowel) and he went to town. It was a fun adventure! My little buddy was such a cute helper too. I asked him to help pick up the leaves and throw them in the garbage bag. He would pick them up one at a time and walk to the bag. Such a cutie. 

It was a great afternoon field trip! Comes with a 10 bag recommendation. (If you don't own trees, adopt a neighbor or grandparent. Not comfortable with an adoption? Go on to a near by park and borrow the leaves for jumping, digging and crunching.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Feed the Ducks

This seems like an obvious field trip outing for little ones. But. I guess I will post the obvious today.

Old bread?
Duck Food.

We took some old bread and fed the ducks. At first Devin was scared and cried. He warmed up though. From watching me feed the ducks, he learned to rip little pieces of bread and then throw it. Or rather in Devin's case, drop it right below our feet. He was amused and enjoyed the outing! Definitely a 2 beak quack! :)

We went to Wheeler Farm to feed the ducks. Good because the ducks can come right up to you and eat the bread that Devin threw. Bad because the ducks do come right up to you and I had to keep shooing them away with my foot.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

WitchFest with a Frog

There are days when Casey comes home from work and I realize that Devin and I have not even left the house and then I wonder what did we do all day. In order to make memories last a lifetime, you have to do just that... make them. Sometimes staying home all day is needed because I was working on a project that had a deadline. Sometimes staying home all day is needed so I can catch up on my chores.

But sometimes it is just good to get out. To make those memories that I will cherish someday when I'm old and wrinkled and Devin is raising his own family.

Our field trip this past week was to Gardner Village to see the WitchFest. Devin seemed to enjoy it. He wasn't a huge fan of being really close to the witches but loved seeing all the people. He waves at everyone he passes. I made him walk and hold my hand the whole time and he is a trooper! 

Not many people were wearing costumes. But I didn't care. I dressed Devin up as a little frog. I figured frogs and witches went together. :) Just more memories for me to savor!

Before we went, I printed the Witch Scavenger Hunt and invited my mom. It is great to have company! We had to keep hunting but successfully found all 15 witches. We took a picnic lunch and just enjoyed our time together.

I would totally recommended Witch Fest to anyone with young children, old children or no children. 5 out of 5 warts. It is just a fun place to enjoy the upcoming holiday. Happy Field Tripping!

P.S. Stay tuned... I'm going to (1) make an effort to get out and about with Devin and (2) record those memories so you can be inspired too. Very likely that most ideas will be free or extremely cheap!

Friday, October 11, 2013

1-2-3 Magic

"Devin, don't touch that."
"Don't do that."
"Get down."

Sound familiar? The phrases (and many, MANY more) used by a mommy with a curious toddler. But I found a solution. We have actually been using the strategy for a very long time and it works like a charm when we stick to it. 

Allow me to introduce a must read for every parent (caregiver, babysitter, childcare person, etc!)... 

It is an easy read. Short book. There are also DVDs. I have read the book and watched the DVDs. Both teach the same parenting skills. I own the book but checked out the DVDs from the library. Personally, I don't really see a need to own either, just check it out. If you ever want to refer back to it, check it out again.

This book taught me how to discipline Devin without making a big deal and without it completely disrupting our lives. No yelling. No spanking. No discussions. No adult tantrums in response to the child. No fake apologies. 

The discipline strategy is timeout. And timeout is not rocket science but this book keeps it fair. It gives the child 2 warnings then timeout for approximately as many minutes as they are old. One thing that I LOVE about this book is it helped me realize that Devin is a child. Shocker! But seriously. I hear others all the time trying to rationalize with their kids and asking them why they have to keep telling them. You have to because they are kids and don't have the processing skills yet to rationalize.

I know that the subtitle says that it is for children ages 2-12. And now some of you are doing the math. Yes, Devin is 16 months old. And yes we have been using this since he was about 10 months old (when he started walking). It still works! I don't know if it would work for all babies that young, but Devin caught on. At first we would have to literally stand behind him and hold him in timeout for one minute. He didn't get to stay. He would cry hysterically the whole time during that minute. But he learned the limits. 

After we had been using this for a couple of months, Devin understood that he had to stay in timeout. So I would put him in timeout then go to a different room to set the timer. But he would still cry giant alligator tears with huge sobs. He was just fine. Let the kid cry in timeout. It didn't hurt him one bit!

Timeout continues to improve. Now Devin will sit in timeout for his minute and a half without an emotional meltdown. He just sits there. We have taught him that the beeping noise from the timer does not release him. He has to stay until one of us walk back to him and tell him, "You can come out now." And he knows he has to stay and we are not going to play the "timeout game." If he tries to play the timeout game where he comes out, the time starts over. There were a few times when he decided to come out just before his time was up or when the timer beeped. I took him back to timeout and his time started over.

We don't have an exact timeout spot. If we are playing in the kitchen or living room, normally timeout is by the front door. If we are upstairs then timeout is normally the hallway. If we are out in public, timeout is anywhere I put him. For us timeout is isolation. No books, toys, animals, blankets, etc. This is one thing that I don't agree with 1-2-3 Magic. The book allows kids to go to timeout to their bedrooms and play with all their toys. The theory is the punishment is simply having to change activities. I don't agree. Timeout is not a time to go play with different toys so I purposefully take everything away.

After timeout we simply go on. No fake apologies. No explanations as to what was wrong. No revisiting the crime because it is a fresh start. (This is something the book teaches and I love it.) If Devin goes straight back to the exact thing he was doing before then it is an automatic 3 and he goes straight back to timeout with an extra minute. 

The only times I have had to explain the situation to him was when he went straight back to the same thing for the 4th time. After sitting in three consecutive timeouts, I realized he wasn't getting it. He was just curious. For example, using very firm voice, I told him why he can't peel paint off the corner of the wall that already has a missing chunk. I started counting over and told him, "That's 1." He hasn't touched it since.

What's the hardest part? Remembering to count. Sometimes I just start telling Devin, "No!" "Get down" "Don't." He doesn't respond to my commands very well. It is also a challenge to be consistent with timeout when I'm tired and am not in the mood to deal with anything.

And here is the bonus. I used this when I was a teacher. It worked like a charm with my junior high kiddos. I had to modify it for a classroom setting but the idea was the same. There is a different book written specifically for teachers using the 1-2-3 Magic but I have never read it.

Good luck! And as Proverbs says,
"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Wading through Isaiah

At Stake Conference a little while ago, my stake presidency challenged everyone in the stake to read the Book of Mormon again. I know there are blessings for those that obey the counsel. And I also just LOVE that there are strength in numbers. While Casey and I chose to both read it for our personal study, I'm not studying this book alone.

I recently started the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi. I'm not going to lie, Isaiah and I are less than best friends. In fact, in my super highlighted, thoughts filling the margins and quotes stuffed almost everywhere, the Isaiah Chapters are almost completely white. Very few colored verses. No impressions in the margins. I just struggle to understand the symbolism and difficult language. (For all of you Isaiah lovers out there, don't judge!)

There is one quote though that I keep in 2 Nephi 11. I treasure this quote and ponder it constantly while I wade through Isaiah. If there is anyone out there like me that struggles with Isaiah, I hope this quote by Boyd K. Packer will encourage you too.

Pres. Packer's entire talk is about reading the Book of Mormon... an excellent read if you are struggling to find the motivation and time to read the Book of Mormon.

Friday, October 4, 2013

{General Conference} Cinnamon Rolls

I have searched and tried countless cinnamon roll recipes. But I could never find one that was amazing. I read through countless "best" cinnamon rolls on pinterest and I liked parts of each. Basically I combined 3 or 4 different recipes to create a recipe that truly is the best. They are light, fluffy, cinnamony, and huge! These are definitely my "go-to" recipe from now on!!

Everything about this just looks amazing!!
And here is the best part. Start to finish is less than 90 minutes (probably around 75-80 minutes). Perfect for Saturday morning General Conference!! I'm so EXCITED for this new General Conference tradition!! :)

1 c. warm water
3 T. yeast
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. buttermilk (room temperature)
1/4 c. melted butter (let sit after melting to cool)
2 t. salt
2 eggs
5-6 c. flour

1/2 c. butter (softened, NOT melted!)
3/4 c. brown sugar
2 T. cinnamon

3 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
1/4 c. butter (softened)
2 t. vanilla
2-3 c. powdered sugar
warm milk??

Before baking.
Note: I found if you use two pans and roll the cinnamon rolls up the short way (instead of the normal long way), they will be GIANT and still make 12. It makes them shorter but wider. They fill an entire paper plate--perfect for sharing with friends. I will take pictures of what I mean by long ways and short ways--check back!

In the bowl of a mixer, combine water, yeast and sugar. Allow it to sit for ~10 min. Mix in the buttermilk, melted butter, salt, eggs and 4 c. flour. Add more flour as needed until dough is soft but not sticky. Knead for 10 minutes. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

While the dough is resting, prepare the filling. Mix the 1/2 c. soft (room temperature) butter, brown sugar and cinnamon with a fork in a small mixing bowl. This should resemble the consistency of a spreadable frosting.

Preheat oven to 200* F then turn off. Lightly grease your countertop and roll the dough out to approximately the size of your jelly roll pan (large cookie sheet). "Frost" the dough with the filling. Roll the dough up and cut into 12 equal rolls. Line the cookie sheet with aluminum foil (or parchment paper) and lightly spray. Place rolls on cookie sheet and put in the warm (but turned off) oven for about 5 min. Take the rolls out of the oven THEN preheat it to 400* F. Bake the rolls for 12-15 minutes.

Beat cream cheese and 1/4 c. soft butter in the mixer on high until light and creamy. Beat in vanilla. Slowly add powdered sugar. If the frosting becomes too thick, add a TINY bit of warmed milk. I normally don't use any milk because I stop adding powdered sugar once it gets thick enough. This is a total guessing game though... sorry... frosting is not an exact science. :)

My cute helper!
He *loved* helping lick the filling bowl after I was all done with it!!!