Saturday, January 31, 2009

Resources for Portland Activities with Kids

Here are a few internet resources to take a look at to get ideas of things to do with the kids in Portland. - This is a local parent magazine. You can view the current issue online which includes a calendar of events for the month. Right now the Jan issue is up but I am going to check back closer to our trip and see what is going on the week we will be there. I already learned a few neat things, like OMSI has a cheap admission fee the first Sunday of the month.

They also have the results up from their reader survey of family favorites for all sorts of categories here.

There is another local magazine - Portland Family - that also allows you to view the issue online and check out their event calendar.

This blog - - looks cool too. It goes into lots of details about each attraction it mentions. I love that so I can feel really prepared. It reviews favorably several attractions like the Forestry Center that I was curious about but had never talked to anyone who had been before. Looks like a great resource!

I think at this point I have way too many ideas of what to do on our trip. It is amazing how much information is out there!

*Note: I have written a bunch of posts about Portland so if you want to read more, click on the Portland Label at the end of the post, and you will see all the Portland entries.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

More Birthday Cakes

I absolutely love looking at homemade birthday cakes so I am really enjoying the Birthday Cake Round-up that FishMama is doing on her blog! The cakes are all so cute and I am getting some good ideas of themes to "suggest" to my boys. I love that not all of them are perfect but that everyone is taking the time to make these cakes for their kids and share them with the rest of us.

It has inspired me to share a few more imperfect but well-loved cakes from our family:

Lego Cake - Just baked a 9x13 sheet cake and then cut into blocks. Pegs are marshmallows.

Froggy Cupcakes


Bunny - this is special to me because my mom made one just like it for one of my birthdays

And lastly, a construction cake and a fire engine one too. These were easier than the ones above but the birthday boy loved them just as much!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Birthday Cake Round-Up

When I saw FishMama was doing a Birthday Cake Round-up on her blog tomorrow, I thought it would be fun to participate. I am no expert cake decorator and don't usually get into many creative or artistic things like that but for some reason I have always wanted to make and decorate my kids birthday cakes. For me it really makes the birthday special.

So my problem was picking which cake to show in my post, seeing as I have made about 7 at this point. Some were better than others but my kids loved them all. This one was one of my favorites - for my oldest son's 5th birthday party.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bedtime Books for Babies

They say that it is never too early to start reading to your child. When I first started reading to my newborn, I felt a little weird, since my baby had no apparent interest (or even awareness) of the book. But as he gets older, I can really see his love growing for books. One of my favorite times to read is right before putting him down for bed. It is a nice part of a bedtime routine that lets him know what to expect next and paves the way for a smooth trip to the land of nod.

Here are some of my favorite short bedtime stories for babies:

Title: The Book of Bedtimes
This is perfect for the smallest of babies. This board book has 10 pages and each page has a drawing of an animal sleeping and two words. It rhymes and really flows off your tongue.

Title: Time For Bed
This one is a little bit longer at 14 pages. The text is still pretty short and is really beautiful. My husband and I end up quoting it throughout the day and calling our kids all sorts of pet names like “little goose.” It has also prompted my husband to ask my toddler interesting questions like “What happened today that made you laugh?” which always elicits and giggle. I am currently reading this one at least once a day to my 9-month old and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it.

Title: The Going to Bed Book
This one is great for babies and toddlers and even preschoolers. The text is little longer and has Sandra Boynton’s typical fun style. It is a great poem and it won’t be long before you can recite the whole thing from memory.

Anyone have more favorite baby bedtime stories?

** This post was originally written 4/25/2006 **

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Unplugged Project : Balls

We participated in this week's Unplugged Project again. The theme this week is BALLS and we decided to do something involving paint. We have not painted in quite a while. One thing about our projects is that we almost never buy something for them but choose to work within the items we already have. (This explains why all our painting projects are blue and yellow for example!)

Anyway, I chose to do the project where you line the bottom of a box with construction paper, dip a ball in paint, and have the child tilt the box back and forth, which makes the ball paint a pattern on the construction paper. My kids both participated this week (ages 3 and 6) and they both enjoyed it. In fact, they each made two pictures. I think they would have done more if we would have had the time.

The instructions I found on the internet said to use a golf ball but we don't have any of those so we just used a bouncy ball. The tempera paint washed right off when we were done. If the ball is too light, I don't think it will work as well, so I would use the heaviest one you have.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Portland Oregon with Kids in December 2007

As we plan a trip for this Spring to Portland with the kids, I am trying to think back on the details of our last trip to Portland. We had a really great visit and have been planning on heading back down there ever since.

Our last trip was quite different than this one, as it was completely spur of the moment. We had a big windstorm and lost our power and decided to take a road trip down to Portland where we would have electricity (it was mainly HEAT we wanted.)

We stayed in Vancouver that time and drove a short distance to a park-n-ride at a light rail station and headed into downtown Portland . That first place we hit was the visitors center at Pioneer Courthouse Square and talked to an incredibly helpful lady. This was so crucial since we had not had time to plan in advance.

Location: 701 S.W. Sixth Ave. at Morrison St.

Open Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.;
Closed Sun. November - April.

Call 503.275.8355 or toll-free 1.87.PORTLAND (1.877.678.5263).

I don't remember the details but I do remember lots of public transportation which was a treat for the kids. We enjoyed riding the light rail and the street car. The Children's Museum was a big hit. The big downer of the trip was it was FREEZING outside. Literally the highs were in the low 30s and it was so windy. We just bundled up and made the best of it but it did put a damper on the activities we could do.

It was a pretty short trip but this time we will have more time AND hopefully the weather will be significantly warmer! We are looking forward to seeing what else there is to see there.

*Note: I have written a bunch of posts about Portland so if you want to read more, click on the Portland Label at the end of the post, and you will see all the Portland entries.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Budget Tip - Cook More from Scratch

Alternate Title - Conquering your Cooking Fears

I am just so glad that I finally tried making tortillas today. They were not really round, but they tasted really good and it was so cheap to do. I have been wanting to try for so long, after I realized how expensive tortillas were at the grocery store, relative to other things that I buy. I was really scared that they would not turn out, either not cooking through or sticking to the pan. Neither of those things happened and really it was a pretty quick process.

Here is the tutorial I followed:
Tortillas at Cooking During Stolen Moments

I have also made yummy pita pockets like this:
Pita Pockets at Tammy's Recipes

It is also easy to make things like sandwich bread or hamburger buns, especially if you have a bread machine you got as a wedding present hiding in your closet.

I also conquered another cooking fear this week - Cinnamon Rolls:
Cinnamon Rolls at Pioneer Woman

I halved the batch and decreased some of the butter and sugar in the filling, plus I made my own frosting. They were so good in spite of the fact that my rolling was a bit uneven.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Budget Tip - Pay Attention to How much you use!

I confess - I tried to make my own dish detergent. And then I kept trying it, thinking it would miraculously start working better. And you know what, it didn't! The glasses never did rinse clean. And yes fellow frugalites, I did try vinegar as a rinse aid. It just did not work for me.

So instead I am back using regular detergent, but way less per wash than ever before. I started pouring it into a plastic tub and scooping it out with a measuring spoon instead of pouring random amounts into the washer each time it ran. Then, this week I had an epiphany, and switched to a measuring spoon half the size as the one I was using and.... it still works great!

So there is my frugal tip!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Unplugged Project : Balance

We finally got another chance to participate in an Unplugged Project. I have really missed doing them and wanted to get back into it this week. So I was super-excited to see this week's theme - BALANCE - and knew immediately what I wanted to do.

We read a lot of science books from the library and one topic we seem to hit a lot is simple machines. As soon as I saw the theme was balance, I thought of a lever and remembered that one of our current library books even had some ideas for activities related to levers.

The book is called How Things Work:Lifting by Levers by Andrew Dunn. The activity is to balance a ruler (we used a tongue depressor) and experiment with moving some quarters around to get it in balance. I don't want to explain all the science here but it was very cool. We started with 1 quarter on each side and equal distance from the center (fulcrum) and then added a quarter to one side and discussed how we could get it back in balance. There are several ways, one is moving the single quarter further out.

Anyway, I am probably not explaining it great but we had a really fun time and I know it made levers a lot clearer for me and hopefully for my six-year old too. Check out the book at your local library and you can try it too!

As I was writing this, I felt like I had written about simple machines before. Turns out for a previous unplugged project we also made a simple machine, a pulley out of tinker toys.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Traveling to Portland , Oregon with Kids

We are super excited to be heading back to Portland for a family vacation this Spring. We live in the Seattle area so it is not too far away but is a really fun city to visit.

I am right in the midst of the early stages of planning. I went to the library website and requested some very recent travel books for the Portland area. I am excited to see what kind of fun activities I will run across in those. I also did some looking around on the internet.

These links were especially helpful:
(There are also lots of other blog entries here on visiting Portland with kids, not just this really useful looking City Guide)

I plan on adding more posts on this as we make decisions about how we are getting there and where we will stay and what activities we will try to fit in.

*Note: I have written a bunch of posts about Portland so if you want to read more, click on the Portland Label at the end of the post, and you will see all the Portland entries.