By: Sung Bin
This time of year, we love to collect the many colors of autumn in leaves. There are so many rich reds and yellows and we love to use them to craft decorations. This week we have been reading The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger, a beautifully illustrated tale of a single autumn leaf who finds another brave companion. The book inspired us to make a window decoration with several colorful leaves and some clear packing tape. Technically, you are supposed to use clear contact paper and press the leaves between two sheets of clear contact paper for a transparent leaf decoration but we only had clear packing tape around. First, I laid out strips of the clear packing tape overlapping slightly to form a larger sheet and my little one and I arranged the leaves on the sticky side of the sheet. The fun part is picking out the leaves and pressing them flat on the sticky tape. Then we laid out another sheet made of strips on top of the leaves with the sticky side facing them to form sort of a sandwich with the leaves in between. We cut the finished sheet into the shape of a large leaf and trimmed it with some pieces of colored in paper. The finished product was a collaborative work that made for wonderful window art to usher in the Fall. We enjoyed collecting the leaves and talking about the changes in the season.
By: Sung Bin
This week we have been all about Dragons. I try to find seasonal crafts for my three year old and I to work on together every week so we geared up for this one by reading some dragon stories and books. Our favorite is the Knight and the Dragon by Tomie de Paola, a story about unlikely friends, and Puff the magic dragon and Merlina and the magic spell (great book for harvest theme too), our close runner ups. Our dragon craft was a dragon puppet made out of craft or popsicle sticks, paper, paint, googley eyes and glue. First, we painted some 3" strips of paper and folded them accordion style for the body of the dragon. We cut out a dragon head and tail shape from paper and glued on eyes and decorated the tail. We used the pictures from the books to help with the head and tail cutouts. Then we glued the pieces together with the popsicle sticks glued an inch of the top of the stick to the base of the head and tail to move the dragon around. My daughter wanted one side of the dragon's face to be "fierce" and the other to be "happy" so we just drew and glued the two faces to be able to flip them. While waiting for all the glue to dry, we also baked some dragon bread by shaping bread dough into dragons embellishing them with pumpkin seeds and raisins for the scales and eyes. It was a little treat/snack after our hard work of crafting. When we were done feasting, we had a little puppet show and story time by making up stories about dragons in caves. We had a great time making and baking. Next week we are planning to make some Pompom apples and bake apple muffins. Happy September!
By: Sung Bin
This summer we had the chance to visit the Fairy Houses of Beebee Woods Exhibit at Historic Highfield Hall in Falmouth and it was one of my top ten events of this year. There were so many artists with their own take on fairy dwellings and my daughter and company were completely entranced. Filled with many great details, the tooth fairy house with the mirrored wall, the beach house with tiny Tibetan flags, the bird on top of a woodland ladder, these were all such a treat to explore. Not too long ago my little one and I made our own indoor fairy garden with tiny benches and evening lighting. We would pretend to see fairies in our
local miniature garden. If you haven't had a chance to see the exhibit, here is a visual of what you missed (http://weefolkstudio.com/category/fairy-houses/).
It is sadly no longer at the hall but Sally Maynor, artist and curator of the Fairy Houses exhibit will also have felted work from her children's book showing from September 4th also at Historic Highfield Hall. I would highly recommend it as her felted creations are imaginative and beautiful to see.
By: Sung Bin
*** This is part of an ongoing series regarding a group of Cape Cod Mommies Bloggers who experience SUP.
Read more here: Paddle Boarding!
When I first heard about Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Boarding a few months ago, I was intrigued. After all, I had always wanted to learn to surf but there was just one pesky thing, I was afraid of the water. Then I had the amazing opportunity to take a lesson with Amy from Peace Love SUP through Cape Cod Mommies and to write about my experience. I have to admit that my concern about being an apprehensive swimmer consumed me as I arrived staring at the water at the landing with the theme to "Jaws" faintly in my ears. I was pretty sure I would be eating water for the first few attempts on the board and really after I saw some of my other brave compatriots in the group lesson take the plunge I realized it really wasn’t such a bad thing after all. The water was four feet deep and we had life vests on to boot so after that initial fear was gone, I knew it would be clear paddling.
Once I was able to balance on the board (customized especially for Peace Love SUP from a local outfitter), it wasn’t very difficult to start. Maneuvering however was a little more challenging. It took me a while and with some helpful guidance from Amy, our instructor, I got my arms and body to work with the paddle. My knees were shaking for the first ten minutes and I probably had a death grip with my toes on the paddleboard throughout the ride but I remained unscathed and pretty content going with the flow of the water and the group. We paddled out into a cove and I learned from Amy that SUP originated from Hawaii, makes perfect sense, but that it started with some locals there who wanted to take photos of surfers on the water. Talk about a spectator sport!
There are so many benefits to Stand Up Paddle Boarding including core training (great for mommies), improving balance, and for me, restorative stress relieving. Nothing beats paddling out in the water with only the sun, wind and serene environment around you. For the duration of the lesson, I was able to be alone in the moment without thinking about bedtimes and playtimes or meals. SUP is perfect for anyone from novices to athletes and even for shy water skimmers like me.
By: Sung Bin
Our all time favorite place to go is the Falmouth public library. It's a big step up from the local branch of our former Brooklyn library. There is a great collection of children's books and parenting resources on the same floor. This past Friday we had a bonus treat at a story time event with Anne Clarkin from the Woods Hole Child Center (our coop preschool) and had a wonderful time singing songs and with finger plays. The library has become a rich resource for us since moving to the Cape and there are always activities from scavenger hunts to crafts. We were even fortunate to have a collection on display in the Children's Room for a month. During the summer this a great rest stop before heading to the playground to enjoy a planned event or just to relax to read a book in the play area. The librarians are tremendously helpful and we enjoy seeing familiar faces, a definite boon for us. Hope to see some families for the next story time on Fridays through July.
By: Sung Bin
Now that we are on our official summer break from the little one's preschool, I have to admit I am a lithe terrified having to fill some of the extra time during the week. Even though my preschooler was only at the preschool coop two days a week, it was still enough for me to pack in as much "me" time for freelancing or errand running as possible solo. So, now that the scheduled playgroups and days at preschool are over I have been trying to decide whether to have a true summer vacation or to supplement our next few months by a sort of homeschooling with a lot of breaks for excursions and relaxation. A few sites I find inspiring gave me some great ideas for what to include in our summer of learning at home. Of course all or most of what I have in mind can change at the whim of my three and a half year old. I would follow her lead particularly if she ends up taking a strong interest in something or just wants to relish in playtime fun. Case in point, I started the week with some ideas from Weefolkart.com, a Waldorf inspired blog with free homeschool companion guides and nature based lesson plans. My daughter wanted to learn all about fairies so we decided to focus on fairies and butterflies instead for the week and spent most of the days in pretend play and puddle jumping. Weefolkart.com's book lists are exceptional and I have found some great books to work with. Another blog I really enjoy from a more Montessori based perspective is Carrotsareorange.com for hands on crafts and activity ideas. I don't know if schooling through the year is for everybody or if it's better to take a summer break for kids to enjoy but I also want to continue to nurture that natural curiosity and appetite for learning so I think I will give it a shot.
What do other families do during the summer break? Do any of you continue lessons throughout the year?
By: Sung Bin
In an effort to save some money on organic baby care products, I set out to make my own shampoo for my household. I wanted to make something that was natural and organic with ingredients that I could name and know. The California Baby Shampoo that I have been using for my toddler was great but the price tag for a family size bottle was not. Plus I wanted to be able to use it too so we would just use one kind that was safe for all. Anyway, this turned out be a pretty humorous task. I experimented with a few recipes I found online, mostly using Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap as the base. There were quite a few concoctions, some were too watery, too oily, too messy, but my toddler bared with me through it all. She was my guinea pig in my quest to make the perfect natural shampoo and at certain times her hair was a bit too scraggly or oily.
While, I haven’t found a perfect recipe yet, I have found a decent mix that kept our hair clean. The castile soap was also amazing for other uses so we use it as a body wash and hand wash. You can probably try any brand of castile soap for a shampoo but I liked the Baby Mild Shikakai from Dr. Bronner and I purchased a larger size bottle. For my coarser hair, I use the soap full strength with a few drops of rosemary essential oil in a small pump bottle. For my daughter’s hair and for a bubble bath I use a foam soap dispenser since she does not need as deep a clean for her fine hair. For her shampoo/bath wash I dilute the baby castile soap about ¼ part soap and ¾ part distilled water and a drop of vitamin e oil, and a few drops of lavender
and orange essential oils. My husband was not as excited about using a few pumps in the water for a bubble bath because it wasn’t like a typical bubble bath wash. It does not make suds but it does lather pretty well. I got the foam dispenser idea online too and since you use less soap, it lasts longer. The best part of making my own shampoo is that I can add any essential oil. Just a few drops of eucalyptus is great for a bath wash for colds or I can make a batch with lavender for relaxing. I’ll have to keep working on the
bubble bath but so far the shampoo has been great and the economic bottle will last us quite a while.
By: Sung Bin
I think I may have found my new favorite hideaway. It's not exactly a secret but the Spohr Gardens, located at 45 Fells Road in Falmouth, has all the makings of magical retreat. I was able to join in my daughter's preschool trip to the gardens and the view was fantastic.
There were plenty of daffodils and although they were all not in full bloom, the small clusters that were interspersed here and there were like little visual treats. The dock and pond was the perfect backdrop as we sat picnic style on the grass eating snacks and singing songs. It was a perfect place for little ones to discover because of its windy paths and sculptured treasures such as ringing bells and giant anchors. It wasn't hard to let your imagination run wild in a place like this.
I was reminded about what wonderful places Cape Cod has to offer and I have only begun to discover them. If you haven't had a chance to visit Spohr Gardens, the end of April from the 20-27th is the best time to see all the daffodils come to life and to take advantage of some of their special activities. There is also a great companion book, My Spohr Gardens by Elizabeth Saito, showcasing some of the flora you will encounter there.
See more pictures and Read more about Spohr Gardens in Falmouth from a Hidden Freebie post Cape Cod Mommies here.
By: Sung Bin
We’ve had more than our share of time indoors last month so I thought I would sweeten the deal by listening to a lot of music at home. I purchased a vintage fisher price record player from eBay for my little one and I to enjoy music together and really for me to get nostalgic listening to old vinyls. It’s been amazing sharing music with her and she really loves it. She still likes familiar tunes but once in a while I will jazz it up with some of my favorite indie bands. Plus, that record player sure can take a beating even if a 3 year old likes to put the record on. They don’t make them like they used to. We’ll bang around on her assorted instruments but there’s a real mutual appreciation for live music. We love going to the music and movement playgroup at the Falmouth Library that the Coalition for Children provides but we’re still hankering for some more hands on music activities during the week. Now that the weather is nicer I thought we would take our musical adventures out of the house so I researched some musical options we could explore on the Cape. There is a sing-a-long drop in at the Cape Cod Children’s Museum on Tuesdays. For St. Patty’s Day week, our preschool is having Aoife Clancy come in to play some Irish music and later this month on Friday, March 29, 2013 she is playing at Mashpee Library for the public for free. I’m looking forward to finding other free music activities and events. One day my toddler might even want to actually play that guitar that she currently loves to use as a coat rack.
By: Sung Bin
We’ve been very busy crafting and creating felt hearts with love messages for our friends and family this week but a little cold has recently descended on the household so my little one has been staying very close to her mama for comfort. Normally, we have a regular routine we go through at the first onset of a cold or illness so by now we have this down pat. I am usually not nervous about fevers below 105 degrees if my child is active and otherwise happy and playing. My instincts will usually tell me if she is in need of serious help or just a little rest and relaxation to combat whatever she is fighting. The first thing we do is take a little extra vitamin c or multivitamin and plenty of fluids like lots of water and homemade soup with extra garlic. A little warm tea with raw honey and lemon helps with sore throats or licorice tea for coughs. The humidifier gets turned on at night and if it’s me who is ill, I’ll make a bowl of steaming hot water with a few drops of eucalyptus oil to inhale for decongestion. Sleep is vital to recovery but not always easy when my toddler is out of sorts so I will usually allow plenty of relaxation and quiet or otherwise boring time for her during the day to just take it easy. For stuffy noses, I use a natural eucalyptus rub on the chest or a little saline solution for the nose, if necessary. Fevers are good for building immunity but if the fever gets uncomfortably high I will have a
washcloth with tepid water ready to cool down her forehead or give her some homemade frozen ice pops which she loves. Beyond that, we just wait. Kids are quite resilient and often I am amazed at how quickly my little one can bounce back to her former self again. Of course, I really don’t mind the extra cuddling and comforting my toddler needs when she is not feeling well. So for Valentine’s Day I can’t think of a better to way to be reminded of how much I am needed and loved while I am holding her close.
What are some natural remedies you use at home for colds or flu?
By: Sung Bin
One of my favorite activities to do with my little one is baking at home and we have been trying to make a weekly ritual of it. Especially during these colder months there is simply nothing better than the smell and warmth of fresh baked bread that envelopes the house to make all my cares melt away. So recently I added to my collection this book, "Baking Bread with Children" by Warren Lee Cohen. Filled with some really great tips and recipes for yummy breads, it is also full of creative stories, songs and verses to get children engaged in the tender art of bread making. I love the author's phrase in the foreword of the book, To bake is to live-to share bread is to love. I plan to try the gingerbread men recipe, yum!, this week so I'll have to follow up on how it came out.
I am reminded when mixing and working bread about how quite therapeutic it can be and how it entails a great deal of patience. There is also well, letting go the few occasional oops of spills or messes that is common when baking with an enthusiastic child such as mine who is quite adamant about doing things
herself. You would need to take extra precautions when near a working oven but I leave the tendering of bread into the oven for the grown ups and clear of any little hands, of course. The mixing and kneading is always fun. The best part of baking is watching my child's eyes open wide the moment she sees the bread
rise in the oven or as she loves declaring, "it's cooking!". It's even better when I sample a bit while it's a tad too warm before it has a chance to cool (I can't help it). The way she says, "thanks mom" as she sinks her teeth into the doughy goodness when it is ready warms my heart. Whether or not she becomes a master baker or just has an appreciation for foods made from the hearth with awe and reverence is all the thanks I need.
What are some of your favorite bread or baking recipes for children?
By: Sung Bin
With the winter solstice approaching next Friday, I thought I would come up with some activities with poems and songs to inspire our family and to usher in the start of winter. Everyone who celebrates does so differently and I wanted to create a ritual and tradition around the solar return and the shortest day of the year. It is also an opportunity to remind ourselves of the power of the natural world that surrounds us. For me, it is a peaceful respite during the holiday season to be able to think more in the dark as I reflect on how much time has passed. I think back with such awe over the last year and how much has changed but also remained the same.
We plan to watch the first sunset of the solstice and pause to remember how human we really are. For my toddler, I found an easy recipe to make at home salt dough ornaments for holiday gifting and decorating as Christmas is a few days after.
Salt Dough for Ornaments
1 Cup Salt
2 Cups Flour
3/4 Cups Water
Combine salt and flour in large bowl. Make a well in the mix and add water. Knead the mix until smooth and use cookie cutters or any shape makers to make your ornaments with the dough. Don’t forget to poke a hole
on the top of your dough ornaments to add the string or yarn. Bake for 20 minutes at 200 degrees in the oven. Paint and decorate when the dough ornaments are cool. (I am going to use rubber stamps on mine such as alphabet stampers to form words like “peace” and “love” before baking). I’m excited to get started
on these with my toddler.
Another tradition we started last year is planting new paper white bulbs in recycled glass jars so we plan to give those out to family and friends to grow in the winter.
Finally, we normally have our dinner by candlelight but for the solstice will add a few additional candles to symbolize the light entering the world and to revel in the stillness of the dark night.
What are your traditions? We'd love to hear from you, comment below!
By Sung Bin
This month I thought it would be a good opportunity to focus on gratitude with Thanksgiving approaching. I didn't want it to be all about the feast but about the appreciation for those around us we cherish. We crafted this sort of family tree together out of craft felt. Though my toddler helped by choosing the colors I did do most of the project while she was napping since there is some basic sewing needed. You can see the finished tree has some simple sewn leaves of different shapes and then we hung them on some twigs and branches from our yard. I made a sort of little pocket in each leaf to slip in pieces of paper with the names of each family member per leaf and an extra one for a mystery non-family member. Every day we pick a leaf and read the name off the paper inside. We would do something nice for this person like write a thank you note, draw a picture, send a postcard or call them to say thank you. Something simple but to allow a small act to show how thankful we were to have this person in our lives. Since we don't have a huge immediate family it wasn't quite as daunting to sew enough leaves but I imagine you can probably put multiple name slips on each leaf to save time. Along with the leaves I made two small banners 'give thanks' but you can really put whatever you want. I hope to continue this every year and that it might be a good tool for us to take some time to be appreciative.
By: Sung Bin
Recently when we headed out of town, I found myself compromising more than I realized. It was so difficult to be consistent about discipline and routines especially in the presence of my family and when traveling. For a week or so we were visiting my family and our friends in New York and any semblance of routine went out the window, partly because we were staying with friends for one weekend and the rest of the week in a hotel room. Mind you, I tried as hard as I could to keep to some things like bedtime routines and meal times but mostly I had to throw my arms up and just go with the flow. Not that it was the end of the world but it became apparent how important those routines really were especially after seeing my toddler looking absolutely exhausted after a packed day with a late nap or a late dinner and hearing her say, “I want to go home, home” several times. I felt I had compromised a lot with discipline as well, letting my child indulge more than her share of things I normally would try to limit. There are always the occasional sugar laden sweets and toys that my family will love to bring us and rather and try to voice my points, I felt it easier to give in. It’s still taking us a while to get back to normalcy back home. As much as I had enjoyed my time away to reconnect with the people I love, I was eager and happy to be back home to our regular schedule. I simply took for granted how difficult it can be to travel with a toddler who wants nothing more than to be where she loves, at home with a consistent routine that she recognizes. I’m still not sure how best to plan our next visit especially if it will be more than a few days. I am curious to know how other parents cope with staying consistent with children and routines. How do you handle travelling with children and keeping routines intact?
Being a parent, I feel I am constantly learning and trying new things. That's why I thought meditating regularly would teach me more about myself. By really committing to a meditation practice, I hope it will help me become a better person and therefore a better parent. I could never find time to regularly meditate aside from the occasional sessions here and there in the past so I would have to start with baby steps. It is nearly impossible these days with a toddler in tow to be be able to devote even a few minutes to something for myself but when I realized that there are some opportune moments in my day- the occasional afternoon nap (and thank goodness that she still naps now) and right before I go to bed. Mornings are pretty much out for me since my toddler wakes up at the crack of dawn practically but there are still minutes that I think I can sneak in some reflective time. I am starting this 28 day meditation challenge this month and while I dislike any type of challenge that can be done in a number of days or weeks I thought I'd give this a shot. I won't endorse any specific meditation practice since it is something I think most people should try to find comfortably themselves but my yoga instructor and mentor back in Brooklyn recommended Sharon Salzburg and I am reading her meditation book now. I still think it's more helpful to meditate with a local meditation group. With my limited time I find with these guided meditations and podcasts available online I could still start out with 5 minutes a day at home. Will meditating regularly make me a better parent? I can't tell for sure but perhaps it will offer me more patience and focus without distractions or clutter or just freedom to be more creative with my toddler. I'll keep posted on my foray into meditating and parenting in the coming weeks as I set out on this challenge.
~ Sung Bin
By: Sung Bin
What I enjoy most about approaching fall here with my family is that you can really feel and observe the changes that are coming. There is a natural rhythm that can’t be denied when you feel and rustle the fallen leaves or the drop in temperature and let’s not forget my personal familiar favorites from apple cider to pumpkin flavored beverages coming back in favor.
The month's full moon is the harvest moon and a good chance for me to teach my toddler about the autumnal equinox and with it the transition of the season. Some finds from our local library included Possum’s Harvest Moon by Anne Hunter about one last hurrah and party on the harvest moon before the coming winter. It’s a simple story about forest animals that are busy storing food and getting ready for the season. By the Light of the Harvest Moon by Harriet Ziefert is a fun book about farmers and the world of leaf
people who come to life during the harvest moon. Lastly, Autumn Leaves by Ken Robbins is a great picture book with different tree types and lots of vibrant fall visuals to help teach the little ones about the different types of leaves they may see.
We’ve been collecting leaves this week to see the richness of fall’s colors from saturated reds to burnt oranges. It is a joy to see my toddler in the midst of the coming changes and to prepare a send off to our summer. How do you introduce or teach about the seasons to your children?
Last week we had some friends visiting and it’s always great when they bring with them suggestions for outdoor spaces since our family hasn’t live on the Cape very long. Somehow they heard of this little hiking spot off Harbor Hill Road near Woods Hole. We were eager to for something new and hiking with our friends was just what we needed. Apparently, this Knob is a bit of a local secret since it is nestled off of the beaten path but after a short hike you are rewarded with a secluded beach. My toddler was decked out in her hiking clothes and sun hat. When we got there were so happy to finally find this place. It is at the end of the road right next to a private driveway and if you didn’t know to look for it you could have easily turned around. There is a small sign labeling the area to the right of the private residence as the Knob and at first you don’t know where the narrow trail will lead. Pretty soon you see some rocky stone steps past a tiny patch of beach and like that, you are transported to an almost mythical place. My husband points something out to
our toddler. Squinting my eyes I could see blue dragonflies in the water plants with a hue so bright I almost believed they couldn’t be real, that they had to be painted on. We followed the trail one after each other as there is really room for one person to comfortably walk through. The views all around were breathtaking. My toddler happily led the team and I felt as giddy as she did. We stopped to take in the scenery of the water and the quiet, out of the way beach but decided to trek on to the end of the trail with an even better vantage point. We took in the moment with each other, our friends, my family to be grateful and humble all at the same time. Then we rested a bit at the hidden beach and walked in the warm and comfortable water where we played with some retrievers nearby who had the same idea. Though a bit rocky for my taste, we still had a memorable time there. What a gem of a find!
Meet Sung Bin Park Boudreau-our newest Cape Cod Mom Blogger! Technology now far surpasses our grandparents and parents age and someday will rival the age that we grew up in... We welcome her to our team and we look forward to her green and natural parenting blogs!! Welcome!!!!
"Oh, dear child,
I can only imagine what you will be capable of and what new technology will be available to you in the coming years.
But as you become hyper-linked to a world of instant messages and texts (and who knows what else is on the horizon), I hope you will also come to respect the simple things in life that I knew and grew up with.
May you look back fondly on your youth filled with summers at the beaches here. Or enjoy the outdoor play of running around at the local playgrounds, just as I did when I was a child living in the city.
Though you will never know arcane things like fax machines, word processors or pagers that I was once accustomed to, I hope we will have some mutual understanding for the things that are designed to make our lives easier.
Mostly, I hope you will not look at me with disdain when I tell you your iPod or portable device is not your only mode of entertainment and that having a family
meal without interruptions from texts is mandatory.
While I promise to try to keep up-to-speed with the latest advances and not be a “lame” or “out of it” parent as much as I can, I hope you will also be able to slow down enough to enjoy life without fancy gadgets, at least for a bit.
I will try myself not to get sucked into incessant texting or Internet surfing and to be a good role model for you, but to also be there alongside you when you need to research the web for a project or need help crafting and proofing an email.
All this to say, you will be far smarter and savvier than I, when it comes to the newest apps or innovations. But I would never admit that.
I will just subtly nod and start saying things like “I remember when…” while secretly being in awe of your aptitude."
This was a letter that I wrote for my toddler (or future adult to be) on a local Patch.com when I was living in Brooklyn, NY but it has since been repurposed to suit our new home here. It’s hard to imagine where she will be in this evolving digital age but I do hope it happens rather slowly. In fact, I would love to cocoon her in an attempt to raise her in a natural more conscientious way without the challenges of technology and media but I know I wouldn’t be able to do it forever. She will inevitably get old enough to make her own decisions, sigh. Hi, I’m Sung Bin, I just moved from New York City to become a year round Cape Codder and have been itching to explore every corner beyond our domicile. There are so many joys and surprises and as a first time parent looking to raise her child in a natural way, I hope to share some of those experiences with you. I’ve been lucky to spend this summer here with my little one and can’t wait to see what the rest of the seasons will bring.
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