end of the season special

A few days ago I surprised my boys with a sand and water table. I am not sure why I held out so long, but one play experience at a friend’s home sold me on it (Thanks Amanda!). Originally, I was checking Craigslist for good deals, but most people wanted top dollar for an item that was very well used, at least around here. So a quick search on Amazon led me to dozens of tables to compare. I spent the best part of an evening searching and comparing, reading dozens of reviews. I finally found one that matched our needs: the colors were not obnoxious, the shape was rectangular which meant I could set it next to a wall or playhouse and it would fit snuggly, it had an umbrella for days when the wee little one played with it, and the price was right. It was discounted by a 1/3 off the normal price. That combined with free shipping made it a done deal.  

After a few days of water play for both boys, I put in the sand last night. It was so nice and clean, so inviting. In five minutes Elliott took care of that bit of order and got busy playing and mixing. Here he was busy making chocolate cinnamon cake, cinnamon cake, and mud bog cakes, which are to be served at – – mud bogs, of course! 

I did let Oliver have a go at it, but he was intent on eating the sand, despite the taste, the gritty feeling, and Mommy repeatedly saying “No!”

A reviewer of this table, Value Mommy, gave some wonderful tips for using the table. I liked them so much I copied them down, for days when I needed a fresh idea. I am sharing her ideas below for others to use to extend the life of their tables, even though the warmer season is winding down. 

(1) sand alone

(2) water alone

(3) potting soil/trowels/silk plants/plastic pots

(4) landscaping stones and small Tonka construction vehicles (aka “the quarry)

(5) bubble solution to use with the large wands and even the small and different wands (so that the kids aren’t fighting over the tiny opening of a tiny bottle of bubbles that inevitably gets spilled all over the patio)

(6) a Mommy-made iceberg (colored blue) on the hottest summer day with dollar store penguins and polar bears–you can even shave the iceberg to make snow (I used a putty knife) and put crushed ice (if your refrigerator makes it) in the water to make it a happier habitat

(7) dishwater and play dishes with sponges and scrubbers to play clean-up without making a mess at the sink like they do inside

(8) aquarium gravel/toys/plants with pretend fish

(9) sand over buried “fossils” (pretend dinosaur bones found at the local dollar store)

(10) sand sifter and dirt with various sizes of rocks that I spray painted gold

(11) measuring spoons/cups/jugs that teach lessons about volume — pair with bath color tablets to learn about color mixing!

(12) Did you know that Little People LOVE to go to the beach? (Off subject, they’re also not opposed to a tumble in the dishwasher!)

(13) any number of arts and crafts activities that I would rather do outside than inside (making slime, paper mache, etc.)

(14) tin pans/muffin cups paired with dirt/sticks/water mud for mud pies

(15) sand castles, of course!

(16) dinosaurs and various animals add a tremendous amount of play value to your basic sand environment.

For right now, I found the animal toobs on sale at Hobby Lobby and made a few bins for Elliott to add to the table.  As you can see, he was excited to get them out and set up a scene!

I foresee a great winter activity too – an indoor snow table! We already do that with a bowl of snow. But this, oh! I might be more excited than Elliott for snow. Okay, not really, but this will make the time pass faster the days we are trapped inside.


reflecting on the weekend

Today was the day to upload pictures and videos and reflect on the weekend trip we took to Ohio. A lot of the trip was driving, or stopping while driving, and more driving, which was not captured (phew!). But looking over the highlights, I am feeling good about our trip. We visited with family, took an animal safari (yes, in Ohio!), hunted for fossils, ate great meals, and brought home some free garden-fresh vegetables. The boys played with cousins, aunts, and uncles, read books with grandparents, and had a lot of outdoor playtime.  Plus, we have great new family pictures with everyone in them!

memory lane

For some memory starts younger or older and I would guess based on my experiences it starts with something big, or what must have been seemed big as a child. And sometimes it is good, sometimes it is not. My husband has faint memories as young as three; mine do not start until I was five. With an almost four-year old in the house, I have been wondering what my children’s first memory might be of. What will their first memory of me be? It makes me concerned when I realize how important and emotional many of my memories are for me.

I was recently caught up in a flood of childhood memories. I love that feeling of the scene before my eyes, watching myself as if another person, complete with the smells, sounds or thoughts that occurred at that moment, the emotions I was feeling. Even now, some bring tears to my eyes, or make me laugh. For a few years, I even started recording them, afraid some how I would start to forget. But memories are lovely like that. Even if you forget them for a few years, sometimes it just comes to you… and you savor the memory all over again. And it is all yours to remember and enjoy. And I hope it stays that way while I age!

My most vivid and favorite memory (well, memories) right now are from when I was perhaps 7 or 8 and living in Connecticut. There was a small creek that ran to the neighborhood pond and that ran under our driveway. I was playing in a tree, with my friends there too, hanging on a part that hung over the edge. I distinctly recall the fear I felt when the branch snapped and broke off and I fell with it. Then I felt a rush of intense relief when I realized I had not fallen down on the rocks some 4-6 feet below and my friends were helping me claw my way up over the edge I was half hanging over. I can even still recall the sensation of slipping on the pine needles and their deep reddish-brown hue, having my face down in them. I laughed it off then, but I was sick for days thinking about it, thinking about how close I was to such serious injury. And while surely a separate day, but in the same creek, just farther down, I was hunting the giant bullfrog with a friend. It seems as though we spent hours in pursuit of it. But we splashed around in the shade of bushes and trees, chasing it by rocks and plants in our jelly shoes, determined to catch it, without fear when reaching into mucky water or in holes to chase it out. When I was victorious, with two small kid hands I could barely hold it around the middle. We quickly got a large bucket. I believe we kept it for a day, but did get him back to the stream.

Do you have a favorite memory? If you want, share it in the comments.

where creativity led to today

inspired by a book, but making it his own.


big E introduces yac (his phonetic spelling) and cat.