Summer Challenge #9: Visit a U-Pick Farm

This week the challenge is to locate and visit a u-pick farm in your area.

A u-pick farm is a wonderful opportunity to develop language in a natural setting. You can talk about the type of food being picked by describing how the food looks/feels/smells/tastes. Your child will also have the opportunity to follow simple directions during the activity, ex: pick one/put in/give me.

There are a variety of fruits and vegetables to pick at end of July/beginning of August. For an idea of what’s available for harvest in Ohio check out this Ohio Harvest Crop Calendar.

Some of our favorite u-pick farms to visit in the Central Ohio area include:

The Columbus Berry Farm for blueberries. Located 30 minutes south of Columbus, the berries are generally available for picking July 5th – August 10th, depending on the season.

Brastool Orchards for peaches. Located 45 minutes northeast of Columbus, peaches are generally ready for picking July 20 – September first depending on the season.

Blossoms at the Bend for u-pick flowers. Located in Williamsport, Ohio, Blossoms at the Bend is a U-Pick flower farm showcasing “old-fashioned’ favorites including red, white and coral peonies, delphiniums, snapdragons, and black-eyed susans. Customers can spend as much time in the gardens as they wish, select their favorite flowers, and cut their own bouquets for only $3 per bouquet.

My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences using #saynplaythesummeraway.



Make Your Own Story Trail

This week the Summer Challenge is to take a walk on a Story Trail (or Story Walk… depending on what your community calls it).

A Story Trail is a way for families to read together outside, promoting literacy and movement. The pages of a book are laminated and mounted and presented one at a time down a trail or around a park. The pages can be spaced as close or as far apart as needed. Families can stroll from one page to the next, or you can encourage movement by having your child skip or run to the next page.

I thought it would be fun to create a Story Trail in our own backyard. Some prep work was required and the steps are as follows:

  • Gather your supplies: book/copies, laminate paper/sheet covers, stakes (I used paint sticks).

  • Protect the pages with laminate paper or sheet covers.

  • Attach the pages to the stake. I used a staple gun.

  • Choose a spot to set up your story.

  • And Voila! You now have your very own Story Trail set up in your yard.

For our Story Trail, I chose to use one of my daughter’s favorite books, Sandra Boynton’s Barnyard Dance! I love the the movement words and animal sounds that are found throughout the book. When we read each page I encouraged my daughter to move like the animals in the book. She bowed, twirled and stomped to from page to page!

The StoryWalk® was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. For more information on the official The StoryWalk® Project please visit here. 

Take a Taste Tuesday with Jess from This Twin Life

Hi! I’m Jess from This Twin Life. I’m a stay-at-home mom to twins who turn 2 today! In my pre-kid life, I was an elementary school library teacher so I bring a lot of my teacher tricks, a love of children’s books, and plenty of school crafts to my mom life. I blog about life with my twins, toddler activities, and I also like to share some of our favorite family meals.

There are a lot of foodies in our family. My mom loves to cook and try new recipes, my mother-in-law is a wonderful baker, my brother is a chef, and I have two brother-in-laws who are amazing cooks. While I don’t cook with the same level enthusiasm as our family chefs, I do enjoy a good meal, sitting down as a family to eat, and exposing my kids to different foods. I like to try and get the kids involved in the kitchen so they can feel like they have some ownership over our meals and the cooking process. At 2 years old, we are deep in the “I do it” stage and the kitchen can be a great place for kids to help out! Today I’m sharing a few of the ways I include my kids in our kitchen.

Meal Planning and Groceries – I often make my grocery list with the kids. It usually goes like this:
Me: So, what do I need to get at the grocery store this week?
Baby B: Pancakes
Baby A: Hmmm. Blueberries?
And that’s usually as far as we get with their contributions because they would happily live on blueberries and pancakes or blueberry pancakes. After we add their requests, I talk about each meal and what ingredients we need to buy to make it. Sometimes the kids “write” their own lists on a sticky note while I make my list. When we shop for food, they help hold things at the store and we talk about the different foods we are buying. The kids are very into colors, counting, and pointing out the handful of letters they recognize and the grocery store is a great place to spot colors, count fruits and veggies, and see big signs with different letters.

Cooking Meals – I try to include the kids when I’m cooking meals. With two two year olds, this can be hard (too many cooks in the kitchen, you might say). Breakfast is usually the easiest meal for them to help with. They pour and stir when we make pancakes, beat eggs and add seasonings to scrambled eggs, put bread in the toaster, and they just started working on spreading their own nut butter or avocado on toast or bagels. Cutting soft foods like tofu is also a new skill they have been working on (a pro tip I learned from another mama: use a lettuce knife!) Make your own English muffin pizzas is a favorite dinner meal they can make entirely on their own. I think the more they are involved in creating a meal, the more excited they are about eating it.

Cooking for Play – We love sensory play in our house and I always involve the kids when we are making food-based sensory materials. Some of our favorite things to make in the kitchen are playdough, rainbow rice, and oobleck. We also play with fun shaped pasta, oatmeal, different grains, beans, and kitchen tools.

I’m hoping my kids will continue to be enthusiastic about helping in the kitchen as they get older!

Thank you to Signe for inviting me to join her for Take a Taste Tuesday!

Each Tuesday for the next several weeks a fellow mom/friend/community member will be sharing a fun recipe, tips to include kids in the cooking process, or a great family restaurant for “Take a Taste Tuesday.” If you are interested in sharing your eating and/or cooking fun be sure to connect with me via email!

Using Basic Language Concepts with Goldfish Swim School

My  daughter had very few words when we first began swimming with Goldfish Swim School. Her vocabulary consisted of the few words that all babies start out with (mama, dada, no, mine, etc.), but she was using very few, if any, basic concept words (location, time, number, description, feelings, etc.). These are words that a child needs to understand and use in order to perform everyday tasks like following directions, participating in daily routines, and engaging in conversation. Basic concepts often occur in pairs and tend to be opposites (hot/cold, happy/sad, etc.).

Our weekly swim lessons at Goldfish consist of practicing the same skills. The directions and tasks my daughter participates in involve a variety of basic concepts. I look back on our time together in the pool and remember using the same words when giving her directions each week — “climb out,” “put in,” etc. Now that she is almost two years-old, my daughter is beginning to use a variety of the language concepts that were modeled for her during her swim lesson.  After observing and analyzing my daughter’s language in our past swim lesson, the following are the basic language concepts she uses appropriately:

Wet/Dry: The whole idea of swimming is to get wet. Before each lesson I tell my daughter, “It’s time to get wet,” and when the lesson is complete I tell her, “It’s time to dry off.” Now, she is the one informing me. — “Get wet, Mommy!” “Dry off, Mommy!”

In/Out: During each lesson, we get in the water, put balls in the basket, and climb out of the water. I will give my daughter the direction using these words, and she will then parrot back to me what she is doing. — “Ball in, Mommy!” “Get out, Mommy!”

On/Off: Directions involving on and off are given frequently throughout the swim lesson. Now, after I give the message to my daughter, she parrots back the direction — “Sit on bench, Mommy!” “Jump off bench, Mommy!” 

Up/Down: My daughter’s favorite part of the lesson is the slide. When she sees the slide she is ready and tells me, “Go up, Mommy!” Once at the top, I model the phrase, “Go down,” and she is quick to repeat it.

Happy/Sad: At the end of each lesson, I tell my daughter how she was a good listener and how well she did (assuming that she did have a good day!). I then ask her how swimming makes her feel. The vast majority of the time she responds with, “Happy, Mommy!”

It truly has been amazing watching my daughter’s swimming and language abilities explode over the past year at Goldfish Swim School. I am fascinated each week as she demonstrates the ability to do more independently and need me just a little bit less.

The Details: We are currently in the Goldfish Mini 2 class at Goldfish Swim School. We attend lessons at the Goldfish Swim School in Dublin, Ohio. Check out the link for location, address/telephone details and how to sign up for lessons.

Disclaimer: We were provided free swimming lessons by Goldfish Swim School in exchange for collaborating blog posts. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Summer Challenge #8: Take a Walk on a Story Trail

This week the challenge is to locate and take a walk on a Story Trail in your community (or make your own).

A Story Trail is when pages from a children’s story book are placed page by page along a walking route in your community. You may have seen one placed on posts around a library or along a path in a park. A Story Trail is a fun way to combine early literacy learning, physical activity, and family interaction. It helps build a child’s interest in reading while encouraging healthy outdoor activity.

StoryTrails local to Columbus:

  • Dawes Arboretum – This year the Story Trail book is Sunflower House written by Eve Bunting.
  • Friendship Park – This year’s story, The Friendship Bridge, celebrates the beauty of diversity as two young girls from different cultures meet on a bridge and form a lasting friendship. The story was
    written by students Emerson Fry, Najma Gureye, Frankie Nuss, Mikayla Barbe-Cox, Amun Jama and Natalie Fry and beautifully illustrated by Alyssa Lee, a junior at Gahanna Lincoln High School.

The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.

My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences using #saynplaythesummeraway.

Take a Taste Tuesday with Annie from Seed Babies

Hello there! I’m Annie from Seed Babies, a blog all about organic edible gardening. I started my gardening journey almost a decade ago while living in NYC. While living in the East Village I joined a community garden on my block and fell in love. I have since moved back to Ohio and have continued on with my gardening adventures. Growing food has brought me so much joy. It has been the basis for so many things in my life including my love of cooking (and eating for that matter), my desire to take better care of our planet, and even my drive to live more simply and minimally.

In addition to being an avid gardener, I am also a mom to an almost 2 year old and another tiny human that is due this October. One of the things I have really looked forward to as a mom is sharing my love of gardening with my kids. I love spending time in the garden with my daughter, even if she is mostly just moving dirt and rocks around. I can usually get her to help me with small tasks, like watering some of the plants, or her ball if she decides he’s thirsty, but her favorite thing is harvesting root veggies. She loves digging in the dirt but, honestly, who doesn’t!?

The other night we had a great time harvesting carrots and potatoes. I love showing her and talking to her about where our food comes from. When we got in the house, I immediately washed one of the carrots off and offered her a bite. She happily took it and ran around before bedtime taking bites and making yummy noises.

The next day we got to work prepping the carrots for dinner. It’s not easy to have a toddler “help” you in the kitchen, but even the times when I am most tired and just want to get things done quickly, I am always glad when I include her. Seeing how happy and excited she gets to work with mommy makes it totally worth it. And as a bonus it definitely makes a difference in how willing she is to actually eat the final result.

So, we kind of threw this meal together. I was in desperate need of a grocery store trip, but that’s one of the great things about having a garden. There are always veggies on hand. In this case we had our newly harvested carrots and kale from the garden, along with a few other left over veggies in the fridge so we made a quick veggie couscous with goat cheese.

Since at the ripe old age of two, my daughter has no knife skills to speak off, I generally will chop most of the veggies before having her join in on dinner prep. Then I’ll have her help by transferring the chopped veggies into a bowl. She usually does quite a bit of taste testing while doing this, which kind of makes me feel like I’m winning at motherhood. Throughout the entire prep and cook process we talked all about how much fun it was to pick the carrots from the garden and clean them and how now we get to eat them! I like to think these reminders help get her more excited to eat her veggies. Sometimes it works. Sometimes.

The final result was delicious and toddler approved. She was excited to get in her seat to eat the meal she helped create. Side note: even though she tried the goat cheese, she was not a fan, so her plate did not include it.

Feeding a toddler is not easy, especially when it comes to vegetables. Some days I feel like I just can’t win and I’m pretty sure she just eats crackers and fruit all day. Other days, like today, I feel like I’m killing it at this whole motherhood thing. I will say when I include her in the entire process, from pulling carrots to cooking them I tend to have a lot more success than when I just plop a plate of prepared food down in front of her. At the very least if she only taste tests some of the veggies while we are prepping dinner I’m happy. I hope that as she grows she will learn to appreciate the food we grow and will get more excited to plant and care for it. There is nothing quite like going into your backyard, picking produce that you have grown from seed, and eating it.


Here is the recipe for our quick veggie couscous:

1-2 garlic cloves chopped

Small pinch of red pepper flakes

4ish mushrooms chopped- you can use any variety, we just happened to have button mushrooms on hand

1/2 yellow pepper diced

6 garden carrots- 4 of them sliced thinly, the other 2 are for snacking while cooking

2 large kale stalks- stems removed and greens cut into ribbons

A handful of frozen or fresh peas

1 box of couscous

Prepare the couscous while you chop the veggies. Fluff with fork and set aside when done. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for one minute. Add the rest of your veggies, throw in a large pinch of salt and saute until veggies soften, stirring occasionally. I like to sear or brown my veggies a little. To do this you can leave them undisturbed for a few minutes until they are slightly browned on one side. Once the veggies are done you can remove from heat and stir in the couscous. Done! I added a few grape tomatoes to mine along with some goat cheese. Lastly, I drizzled a tiny bit of aged balsamic over it. Yum yum! I plan on eating the leftovers for breakfast with a fried egg on top.

Summer Challenge #7: Engage the Senses at the Farmers Market

This week the challenge is to check out a local farmers market and engage your senses while you are there.

Children experience their world through their senses: smell, sight, hear, taste, and touch.  A trip to the local farmers market is a multi-sensorial experience, which can further result in increasing your child’s language development. For more on how to engage the senses and promote language development click this link .

If you are in the Central Ohio area be sure to check out Eat Play Columbus for a list of when/where the local farmers markets are happening this summer.

My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences using #saynplaythesummeraway.

Exploring the Columbus Commons

Have you had the chance to head to the Columbus Commons in downtown Columbus? The events are top notch and family-friendly. Some events this summer include Commons for Kids, Free Fitness Classes, Food Truck Food Court, Concerts, Family Fundays, Movie Nights, and more. Even if you can’t make it to a scheduled event this summer, there is still plenty to do at the Commons. Below I have a list of seven ways to enjoy the Columbus Commons almost any day of the week.

1. Ride the Carousel

Take a ride on the carousel Monday – Saturday from 12 p.m. to 8.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. for $1.

2. Bring a Picnic

Pack a picnic lunch and take a seat at one of the many tables located on the south side of the park. There are even tiny tables for the tiny humans in your life.

3. Make Some Art

The Art Box contains a variety of arts and crafts supplies and is free to use during Open Play hours, Wednesday – Saturday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Check out the supplies and get your art on.

4. Run the Open Fields

The open field in the center of the park is plenty of space to run off some energy right in the middle of the city.

5. Grab a Bite to Eat

If you aren’t interested in packing a lunch, you can pick up some Mexican street food at Tortilla or a tasty treat at Jeni’s ice cream, Monday – Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

6. Read a Book

Pick out a book at the Columbus Commons Reading Room. Sit at a shady table or chair and enjoy  the book — supplied courtesy the Friends of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

7. Take on the NEOS 360

Give the NEOS Electronic Playground a try. The equipment combines the speed and fun of electronic games with the explosive movement of aerobic exercise to create a high-excitement play experience.

The Columbus Commons has put together a checklist that lists can’t-miss, warm-weather activities for this summer. Use #CommonsSummerChecklist when you post a picture from the checklist for a chance to have your photo featured on social media or on the LED screens that overlook the park.

Columbus Commons Summer Checklist 2017

Location: Columbus Commons is in the heart of downtown Columbus. The address is 160 S. High Street.

Parking: There are parking garages underneath the park and across Rich St from the park. We somehow always get lucky and park at a meter within walking distance from the Commons.











Take a Taste Tuesday with Linnea

My name is Linnea and I am a food blogger focused on American and Swedish recipes, as a way to highlight the two cultures I grew up with (Swedish mom, American dad). Back in the states I was an elementary school teacher, and I am now living in Sweden with my husband as I complete a master’s in International and Comparative Education. Although I am not a mom yet, I do have plenty of experience being a kid, and being around kids, so I hope to still bring something meaningful to Take a Taste Tuesday this week :).

I spent a lot of time thinking about what to focus on for this post – how can I incorporate both cultures that I hold near and dear, as well as a delicious recipe that kids will enjoy? Immediately I began to think about the memories that were most special to me growing up, and one of them (which I wrote about on my own blog) is my family’s tradition of making Mickey Mouse waffles at our cabin. And it’s perfect – what could be more American AND Swedish than waffles?! (Sweden even has it’s own holiday for “Waffle Day”). But what was so special about those waffles? It wasn’t just that they tasted good, it’s something else about them too….

And so here are my two related tips for those with children!

(1) Create a family food tradition:
I have no idea when my dad started making these waffles at our cabin in the San Juan Islands, but I can tell you it was definitely long before I can even remember. I can’t think of a single visit that did not include these waffles for at least one breakfast. My dad would wake up before the rest of us, and get started heating up the waffle iron, beating the egg whites… and the smell was such a wonderful way to wake up. As we got older, my sister, cousins and I started to take over the waffle-making job and I remember it sort of felt like a right-of-passage that we crossed. As an adult I happened to go to college near the San Juans, and even in my 20s when I’d bring friends up for a weekend of fun, I’d still find time to make waffles for breakfast. And I know that when I have my own kids, this tradition will continue and hopefully bring them wonderful memories too. You know how they say smells hold some of the strongest memories? Well I think taste must too, because every time I make these waffles here in Sweden I am transported back to being a kid at the cabin and it’s a wonderful remedy for homesickness :).

(2) Let your kids be creative with their food:
The second part of this is that my sister, cousins, and I LOVED the Mickey Mouse waffles because they were FUN! Besides them being in a Mickey shape (what kid doesn’t love that?!) we always got to be really creative with the toppings. I might put strawberry jam in the lips and fruit earrings for the ears before drizzling everything with syrup…. my sister might add a beard with whipped cream and a mustache of raspberry jam to hers…. basically we got to be creative with our Mickeys! As we got older, we even got creative with the batter itself, sometimes adding extra to the outside to make a beard or adding a bow on top for a Minnie. It wasn’t often that we made waffles at home (they wouldn’t be as special then!) but when we did, we had a Nordic waffle maker that was shaped with hearts. It was always fun to put something different for a topping in each heart…maybe peanut butter and honey in one, yogurt and fruit in another… it was another way to be creative with our food :).

So I hope I have inspired you to come up with your own fun, family-centered, food tradition that your kids will remember and carry on for the rest of their lives. And if you want to try my family’s famous waffle recipe, you can find it on my blog: Mickey Mouse Waffles. There’s also a link to the Mickey waffle maker on Amazon if you want to try it out with your own kiddos :).

Finally, a big thanks to Say n Play for having me as a guest this week!

Each Tuesday for the next several weeks a fellow mom/friend/community member will be sharing a fun recipe, tips to include kids in the cooking process, or a great family restaurant for “Take a Taste Tuesday.” If you are interested in sharing your eating and/or cooking fun be sure to connect with me via email!





Summer Challenge #6: Explore an Open Space

This week the summer challenge is to explore an open space in your city. An open space is any open piece of land that has no buildings or other built structures and is available to the public.

These spaces can include:

  • Green space (think community space, community gardens, parks, and cemeteries)
  • Playgrounds
  • Public seating areas
  • Public plazas
  • Vacant lots

Open space provides areas for residents to enhance the beauty and environmental quality of neighborhoods.

Some Suggestions if you are here in Columbus:

My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences using #saynplaythesummeraway.