A while back I gave my son an old camera of ours to play with. Then, for his 2nd birthday, he was given a camera from his aunt and uncle. Recently, I decided to go through his cameras and see what was on them. It gave me a glimpse into the world through a toddler’s eyes.

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We visited the tulips fields in Mt. Vernon, Washington earlier this Spring. As you can see, below, I am taking a picture of my son taking a picture. I was quite pleased with the way my photo turned out, but I think I may like his better.

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Most of his pictures are of me with the camera, because that is when he wants to use his camera, too.

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I am particularly fond of this photo of an “angry” Daddy.

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I’m sure he wasn’t really angry. We were at the zoo that day.

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And there you have it, the world, as seen by a toddler. I think we may have a budding photographer on our hands.

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Kelsey Creek Farm

June 21, 2012

copyright 2012 Bona Fide BitesOur latest exploration took us to an unexpected place. I grew up in Ohio, so I am used to seeing farms everywhere. A farm in the middle of the city, however, surprised me.

Kelsey Creek Farm, located in Kelsey Creek Park, is a wonderful place to take young children in the Seattle area. And, it’s FREE! Complete with cows, goats, pigs, chickens, bunnies, and horses, visitors are free to wander about independently. They offer all types of classes (at a cost) for children, including horsemanship training.

Since I have a 2-year-old, the choices of classes are quite limited, though they do offer a “Little Farmers” class that is a parent/child class. I plan on checking that out.

During our visit, I had an opportunity to capture some images of the animals and thought I’d share them here.

copyright 2012 Bona Fide Bites

I’m not going to lie, the cows smell. That should come as no surprise, they are cows after all.

copyright 2012 Bona Fide Bites

The farm is home to four little piglets, born in January 2012. They were all asleep while we were there.

copyright 2012 Bona Fide Bites

The horses seemed friendly. As I said, Kelsey Creek Farm offers horsemanship courses, starting at age 4.

copyright 2012 Bona Fide Bites

The surrounding park is a wonderland for children to explore the good-ol’ outdoors. They loved climbing on the old trees.

copyright 2012 Bona Fide Bites

This is one bird I am glad was behind bars. I don’t like the look I was getting from this one.

 Kelsey Creek Farm offers the “Little Farmers” class (for ages 2-3) next month. It advertises that children will actively participate in animal care and feeding, barn chores, cooking, gardening, and arts and crafts. I’m on a mission to find out more information on it. I think this may be a good one to explore.

See my Flickr page for additional photos.

Knee-High Naturalists

June 13, 2012

Exploring Nature with ToddlersI try to expose my son to a variety of interests, even if I don’t particularily like it. Like bugs. You see, it is my belief (as sexist as it may be) that all men should protect the women in their lives from bugs and rodents. It is their duty. So, in raising a little man, I think it is important to expose him to those things so there will be no fear. As long as I am raising a boy, chivilery will not die!

When I saw the opportunity to sign up for a toddler workshop called “Knee-High Naturalists” I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to expose my son to something I naturally wouldn’t want to do myself. The program advertised walking along the water and discovering all sorts of nature; birds, rocks, plants, and yes, bugs.

The morning of our adventure, as I was getting ready, I attempted to create excitement. In my peppiest voice (which, I must admit isn’t all that peppy and sounds rather unnatural on me) I said, “We’re going to do something really fun today! We are going to go walk along the water and find birds and plants and bugs!”

Then I remembered that my son doesn’t like bugs the way most boys do (surprise, surprise). When he sees them outside he normally says “Go home bug!” and proceeds to tell me he doesn’t “really like that bug.” So, I quickly tried rewording our morning outing and said, “Doesn’t that sound fun?! Do you want to see some birds!?”

To my surprise he responded, “And bugs!” with excitement.

“Yeah! And bugs! How fun!” I said, trying to keep the excitement going. He reached his hand out toward me and said, “I’m going to touch them!”

That surprised me. “You are?” I asked.

Then he took his hands and pretended to hold a baseball bat. He started to swing it. “And hit them with my bat!” he proudly exclaimed.

And there we have it. He wants to torture the bugs, not explore them. I think it’s a step in the right direction. At least he’s not running away from them.

Cedar River Education Center- North Bend, WA

If you live in the Seattle area, the Cedar River Education Center at Rattlesnake Lake in North Bend offers the Knee-High Naturalists program once a month, throughout the summer. We ended up having a blast. We learned about weather as our guide helped point out different aspects of it on our nature walk. The program is designed for children three and under and is only $5 per adult. The Education Center has a whole slew of things to explore. It is a mini, hands-on science center. That, by itself, is worth the trip.

I’m so glad I found this, because we will be returning. Next month’s topic? Bugs. Time to put my big-girl pants on.

 
 
To register for the program you may email CRWProgram@seattle.gov or call 206-733-9421.  Rattlesnakek Lake is located off of I90, exit 32. 
 
 

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BOB Jogging StrollerWhile at the park today with my 2-year-old boy, a team of what I will call “Power Moms” literally strolled in. They donned the latest, greatest workout gear, and each had their double jogger strollers. You could feel the power beaming from them, as if the Queen Bee had just flown into the hive. They parked the strollers; the kids jumped out. Both moms and daughters went straight to work. The older group laid out their blankets on the lawn and started doing all sorts of abdominal work. Their daughters grabbed their exercising bands from the strollers and took over the playground, turning it into a mini gym. They attached their exercise bands to the rope ladder and worked on their arms. They used the kiddie picnic table as a step-machine, stepping first onto the seat, then on the table, and worked their way back down. They used that picnic table seat to do reverse push-ups to tone the backs of their arms, then turned around and did push ups to work on the bicep. All the while, their mothers were cheering them on, encouraging them to do more pushups. Did I forget to mention that these were 3-year-old girls?

At first I thought it was cute. The little girls wanted to be just like their mommies. They were just imitating them and pretending to exercise. Then my little guy wanted to see what they were doing. He dropped his shovel, abandoning it in the mulch, and went over to watch. They were using their exercise bands on the rope ladder. He thought it was funny, so he laughed. Then one of the little girls looked at him and barked, “It’s not funny!” I stood up and walked over to where they were. He was laughing hysterically. I asked him what he was doing and he said, “Where’s my rope?!” I explained to him that we didn’t bring a rope to the park today, but pointed out his deserted shovels. The little girl looked at me, very seriously and said, “He’s laughing and this isn’t funny.” She had the attitude of someone in the middle of a heavy workout who had just been interrupted. “Well, he thinks it’s funny,” I said “He’s never seen this before.” She looked me straight in the eye and said with attitude, “No, my mommy says this isn’t funny. We’re working out.” Right, fine. I’m not going to pick a fight with a 3-year-old. I took my son and redirected him back to his shovel.

Back on the bench, I can hear the Power Moms talking loudly and proudly. One gloats to her friend, “I’ll be doing Jillian Michaels video and she will do the whole thing with me! She does all the moves.” Then she looks at her daughter, “Good job, Honey! Keep it up!”

That’s when the little girls started climbing “stairs” (a.k.a standing on the table). My son again wants to know what they were doing. He thinks it is funny that someone would stand on a table. Go figure, it’s not something we allow in our house. “Oh, look! Now they’re doing their ‘steps’!” one mother beams.

That’s when I made up my mind that this was not “cute.” These young girls were not playing “exercise”. They were truly working out. The whole situation made me uncomfortable. It’s great that these moms are taking their health seriously and are finding time to work out, but what kind of message is this sending to the children? It made me think about how I talk about fitness and food around my son.

There is a right time to introduce exercise to children. I’m not sure when it is; gym class, perhaps. I am sure, however, encouraging your preschooler to work her gluts and saying she “needs to do 10 more push ups” is not the right way to go about it.

As uncomfortable as this whole sight made me, I’m glad I saw it. I am definitely going to be more conscientious of how I speak about my own health in front of my son, even if I’m not speaking to him. These kids absorb everything.

I want my son to be healthy and active, and enjoy good, nutritious food, but I don’t want it to be an obsession. I don’t want him to feel like he’s dieting or exercising. I want him to feel like he’s playing and eating. And I certainly don’t want him standing on tables (but that’s a entirely different issue).

*Photo above is a stock photo advertising the BOB stroller,  taken from www.healthchecksystems.com.

 

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A Case of Skyway Robbery

March 26, 2012

This is a letter I am sending to United Airlines. I know it is probably all in vain as I will most likely not get a response, or if I do, it will be generic and unapologetic. I do, however, have a real problem with the way the airlines treat their customers when they are supposed to be a customer service industry, so I am making this a public complaint to air those concerns. 

March 26, 2012

United Airlines

Customer Care
United Airlines, Inc.
900 Grand Plaza Drive NHCCR
Houston, TX 77067-4323

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to express my concern for the airline’s lack of willingness to assist customers in time of need. Recently, we purchased tickets to fly from Seattle to New York when my husband’s grandfather fell ill. He wanted to see him one last time to say his goodbyes. Unfortunately we were too late. Upon calling United to change our reservations so we could make it to the funeral, I was dismayed by the lack of compassion shown by the customer service representatives.

First, I was on hold for 25 minutes before even speaking to anyone. The answering service estimated a 3-minute wait. Secondly, after speaking with Ivan, your customer care agent, I left the conversation knowing everything that airline can NOT do for me, rather than how the airline can help.

According to your website, United Airlines is “dedicated to providing a level of service to [your] customers that makes [you] a leader in the airline industry.” It seems to me that the airline doesn’t really care for providing any level of service to your customers, unless it means adding to your profit line.

I understand this is a business and industry that must make profit to keep running. I understand the airline industry is hurting just as much as any industry in our economy. I do not, however, understand how it costs more for the airline to adjust a ticket from one flight to another, especially if they can resell the later tickets for a higher profit to someone else. An adjustment fee of $150 seems reasonable, but to pay the difference in fare for a seat that is likely to remain empty (for a next day flight) is nothing short of highway robbery.

Your bereavement fare is a sad attempt at trying to provide care to your customers. A 5% discount on an $800 ticket is a slap in the face. Again, according to your website, your “goal is to make every flight a positive experience for [your] customers.” I can tell you what would make it a positive experience and help you build a more loyal customer base (which in the end would help your bottom line), take your department’s name literally and actually care about your customers.

When one must make flight reservations or change existing flight reservations due to a death in the family, it will always be short notice. No one can plan ahead for that. Bereavement will always be last minute flights. Last minute flights will always be outrageously expensive. Offer more than 5% off. Train your customer service representatives to help the customer in whatever way they can. When I spoke with the agent, I was the one thinking of alternatives (i.e. What about flying to a nearby airport? How about using frequent flyer miles?). In short, I felt like I was doing his job for him. All he was doing was telling me what the airline couldn’t do.

In our case, we had already paid $946.80 for three roundtrip tickets. The best Ivan could do for me (at first) was to book tickets for the next day (so we could be there in time for the funeral) for an additional $550 per person, plus the $150 change fee. Just to be clear, that is an additional $1800, even though we have already paid close to $1000. Eventually, Ivan was willing to wave the $150 change fee, but only after I started offering alternatives like using miles for the difference in flights (which as you know, you do not do).

The definition of bereavement is  “ the state or fact of being bereaved or deprived of something or someone” (Merriam Webster Dictionary). Ironically, that is in fact what you are doing by offering only a 5% discount on an extraordinarily high priced ticket. You, the airline, are depriving your customers, whom you claim to care greatly for, of proper closure with a loved one. It is shameful and needs to change. I know United is not alone in this and the guilt should be shared amongst all major airlines. Today, people are less willing to fly because it is too expensive and incredibly stress inducing. Perhaps if you were willing to support your customers, your customers would be more willing to support you.

Sincerely Concerned,

E. E. M.

A Baby Shower

February 12, 2012

I threw my first baby shower today. Have you seen Bump Smitten? It is an amazing resource for baby shower ideas. While perusing the site one day, I fell in love with a design of yellow and grey elephants.

Just to let you know how amazing the site is, they have PDF downloads of the entire shower for FREE!

As a thank you to Bump Smitten for being so fabulous, I am posting photos of their documents in action. I didn’t take photos of the invitations, but they were adorable.

Included in the downloads is a template for invitations, games, and decorations. Each is customizable by adding text to the PDF.

I wish I would have taken more pictures of the actual printouts, but you can see the full documents on Bump Smitten’s site.

As you can see, this was simply a post to tell you how much I love that site. You should go to it if you are planning a shower anytime soon.

As you can see from the photos, I served chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting, chocolate chip cookies, and lemon bars. The recipes are linked if you are interested.

 

 

 

Today, I embarked on my House Beautifying resolution. First project is our master bedroom, a project which will take several days to complete. My first step was to patch up the holes and cracks in the wall.

While doing this, I was quickly reminded how horribly wrong DIY projects can go. Taking a closer look at our walls, I saw several poorly patched areas where the previous homeowner must have done a quick patch job. Since I’ve never had to repatch areas, I have to look up how to fix this. My guess is I’m going to have to sand it down and retexture the wall. I’m not really looking forward to that.

If you recall from my Resolution Post, this photo is the inspiration for my master bedroom.

Just to give you an idea of how much work I have to do, this is what I’m actually working with.

Like I said, I have a lot of work to do. I look forward to seeing the transformation. For now, all cracks and nail holes are patched and ready to go. Tomorrow, I paint the ceiling! (The exclamation mark does not mean I enjoy painting ceilings. I, in fact, hate doing that. I’m just excited to actually get this project started.)

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