Author: Kristy

Series: Sugar Simplified (Part 1)

Series: Sugar Simplified (Part 1)

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that the recipes here don’t feature refined sugar, and infrequently natural sugars such as honey, molasses, or fruit. If you’ve ever wondered why, you’re about to find out!

Proper nutritional education is essential for everyone, but especially for those of us who are trying to help nurture little ones (and raise good eaters!) I was taught almost no kind of nutrition growing up–thanks coaches teaching health class–and the little bit of information was scarce. You know, eat your fruits and veggies, bread, potatoes, pasta, lean protein, and avoid fats. It also turns out that it was bad advice to begin with (Thanks, Ancel Keys!)

This week we’re going to be starting a new series addressing all of the different sweetener options out there. We’ll cover sugar, natural sugars, sugar alcohols, and artificial sweeteners–their composition, effects on the body, and potential health implications. So let’s get down to brass tacks. I hope that you enjoy learning with me!


Today we’re kicking it off with a talk about sugar.

What is it, anyway?

Sugar is a group of sweet tasting soluble carbohydrates which are (very) frequently used in food. The high use of sugar as a food additive today is astonishing–it’s used in everything from common beverages and breakfast cereals to meats and sauces. The average person in developed countries consumes roughly 73 pounds of sugar a year (and 53 pounds in undeveloped countries). Frankly, that’s just appalling. This is straight from wikipedia: “As sugar consumption grew in the latter part of the 20th century, researchers began to examine whether a diet high in sugar, especially refined sugar, was damaging to human health. Excessive consumption of sugar has been implicated in the onset of obesitydiabetescardiovascular diseasedementia, and tooth decay. Numerous studies have tried to clarify those implications, but with varying results, mainly because of the difficulty of finding populations for use as controls that consume little or no sugar.”

Many people know of glucose and fructose. Contrary to what most people believe, fructose, also known as fruit sugar, is not a healthier sugar even though “it is natural sugar.” In fact, many health experts believe fructose is the worse of the two. I’m not going to into the chemistry of it for two reasons: one, others have done it before me and written about it more eloquently than I ever could, and two, laziness.

Why is sugar such a problem? Let’s take a quick look at what we know sugar does to the body. It impairs the immune system and your ability to regulate appetite by decreasing leptin production. It increases oxidative stress in the body, promotes free radicals, and even feeds cancer cells.

Is this good? Seems like a ridiculous question when you put it like that, right? No, of course damage to the body isn’t good. As a mom, my number one priority is making sure that my babies get food that nourishes and builds their bodies strong.

There are three primary sugar based sweeteners used in food production and commonly available today: table sugar (sucrose), glucose syrup, and high fructose corn syrup. Sucrose is half glucose and half fructose. Glucose or corn syrup is primarily glucose. HFCS, as the name suggests, is more than half fructose. If you are going to use a sweetener in your foods, quite frankly, these are awful options.

Is there a better alternative energy source? Absolutely, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Mini Apple Pie Pockets

Mini Apple Pie Pockets

I never liked apple pie as a kid. Any time I tried it something about the texture of the apples was never quite right to me. They would be partially crunchy still and half gooey

Ingredients:

This apple filling 

4 oz cream cheese

1 cup mozzarella cheese

1 egg

1/4 cup granular swerve

4 tbsp coconut flour

1 1/4 cup almond flour

1 tbsp cinnamon

Dash of salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Make apple filling.

2. In a large microwavable mixing bowl, combine mozzarella and cream cheese. Microwave for 30 seconds to a minute, until cheese begins to melt.

3. Remove from microwave and vigorously stir with fork.

4. Add egg and stir.

5. Add swerve, cinnamon, salt, coconut flour, and almond flour. Mix together until doughy. You will need to knead with your hands towards the end.

6. Using a folded piece of parchment paper and rolling pin, pull a small ball of dough out. Roll the dough into a rectangle shape about 1/4 inch thick.

7. Spoon a large spoonful of apples into the middle. Using the parchment paper, fold the sides of the dough over the apples, enveloping them in a pouch. Set aside on baking sheet with parchment paper.

8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 until dough is used up.

9. Bake for 20 minutes.

10. Enjoy.

Stamp Chart Reward System

Stamp Chart Reward System

Sometimes it can be really difficult to get kids to cooperate when you need them to. Believe me, I know. My kids can be as stubborn and ornery as their mom and dad.

One of the best ways that I’ve come up with to get the kids to help out is a stamp chart. It looks like this:

Stamps could easily be exchanged for stickers, but we use stickers elsewhere and my girls really enjoy the process of getting to ink the stamp and press it on paper, so it’s more rewarding for them.

The kids can earn a stamp in a few different ways:

1. Picking up their own messes/cleaning up toys

2. Eating like a civilized person and not throwing stuff

3. Not whining or hitting, aka trying to express emotions with words

4. A day without TV

5. Filling a row on the potty sticker chart

The rewards on the chart are usually a fun trip or activity that the kids enjoy. We try to keep the cheap, easy rewards towards the top and more expensive rewards for the end of the chart. This requires quite a bit of help from the girls to actually get to go do something like go out to eat or go to the riverwalk. The chart ends on the last day of the month, so it’s possible to reach the end without acquiring every reward–and that’s okay, too. It’s okay to not get everything. I want them to see that sometimes you don’t win, and working harder improves your odds. Right now when one of them earns a stamp they both get it, but that will change soon.

This is intended as an active, exciting way to engage them in the process of learning how to help out and pick up after themselves. It’s also a precursor to earning an allowance, or “salary.”

Having said all of this, sometimes it doesn’t work. One kid is almost 3 and the other is going on 2, so they often know better than mom and dad or just want to be bratty (as indicated by the accompanying smirk they give), but it’s alright. Some kind of system is better and more successful than no system at all.

Low Carb Mocha Chip Frappuccino

Low Carb Mocha Chip Frappuccino

It’s been so long since I’ve been to Starbucks that I don’t even know if these are available anymore, but 10 years ago this was my favorite. I have finally found an amazing, healthy recipe to replace the insanely high sugar original.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Dissolve instant coffee in a small amount of hot water. You can also use brewed coffee.
  2. Put ice in bottom of blender/bullet cup.
  3. Pour cream over ice.
  4. Add remaining ingredients to cup.
  5. Blend until smooth. Garnish with chocolate crumbles.
SA Outdoor Adventures for Kids

SA Outdoor Adventures for Kids

Hey, hey, hey! Today, as with many August days here in San Antonio, it’s nice and sweltering. Sure, it may get down to 90, but you’d never know it with the humidity. Of course, the heat keeps us indoors in an attempt to avoid it a lot of the time, but it’s still important to get out and go somewhere. I’m a serious believer in the importance of exposure to nature for so many reasons, so we always try to go out and explore outside a couple of times a week.

Here’s my personal list of what makes something a great day (morning or afternoon) destination:

$$$–is it cheap, or even better, free?

Will my small children be happy there?

Safety, weather, and you know, preparedness things

We moved back in February, so I have certainly not scoped out the hottest mom spots in San Antonio by any means, but here’s our favorite spots to kill some time outside with the kid monsters!

1. Guadalupe River State Park

Okay, so not in the city, I know. But hear me out! This beautiful state park is easy to get to, just a drive up Blanco Road to 46. In addition it’s extremely family friendly: they have camping, hiking, a playground (currently closed, boo), a children’s discovery center, a ton of picnic tables, and of course, swimming. There’s deeper water for parents and older kids, but for smaller children there’s also a wonderful section of shallow water. My water-timid 3 year old gets to play and splash around without being worried here. We like to take a big mat and lounge in the shade. Hands down my favorite spot to cool off.

$$$–We have a state parks pass so it’s worth it for us to go. If you don’t, you will have to pay a day use fee.

Happy kids? Very. Always have a hard time leaving.

Preparation–sunscreen (please use a non-toxic kind!), swimsuits, shade, water, snacks, water shoes (don’t underestimate how painful river rocks can be on bare feet), and whatever water safety devices you feel appropriate.

2. Phil Hardberger Park

If you’ve never been to Hardberger Park with your kids it’s definitely worth a trip. This place is huge and even has two entrances, one on Blanco Rd and one on Military. There are dog parks and playgrounds on each side near the parking lots. In addition, the hiking trails just can’t be beat. There’s a large picnic area on each side, benches on some of the trails, and even a large overlook. We go hiking here a couple of times a week and always have a great time. Sometimes we do nature scavenger hunts here while hiking to engage the kids.

$$$–free

Happy kids? Usually. Sometimes a kid gets mad that she has to walk or ride in the stroller instead of being carried.

Preparation–sunscreen (or sun hat and sleeves), water

3. San Antonio Zoo + Brackenridge Park

We purchased zoo memberships as soon as we moved. It was a no brainer for us, we went to the LA Zoo all the time in California, and it wasn’t even particularly close! The girls absolutely love it. And with all the fun enclosures (sorry, animals) and features I can’t blame them. Plus, summer animatronic dinosaurs! You can take a (very short) ride on the carousel, see the pigs and goats at the petting zoo or ride the train. You could spend hours in the splashpad area. There’s all sorts of outdoor things over in the kid’s area, including adorable mini benches. There’s even a small discovery center for the kiddos. If that’s not enough (and let’s be real, you might be beat, but the munchkins have some magical reserve of energy just for moments like this) Brackenridge park is right outside!

$$$–just buy a membership. If you go twice it’s worth it.

Happiness factor? Kids always enjoy it. Even Matt and I are usually glad we went. Exhausted, but glad.

Preparation–sun protection, water

4. Eisenhower Park

I really enjoy this place. There are more difficult hiking trails if that’s what you’re looking for, easy paved trails if you need something simpler. There are nice, wooded trails, too. I like taking the double stroller here. There’s a nice little playground and a large climbing wall for older kids.

$$$–free

Fun level–decent. My kids are always happy if they get to play on a playground.

Preparation–sun protection, water

5. Orsinger Park

Now you should have a very good idea of where I live! This is our basic time-killing place. It’s got a large pavillion for events, bathrooms, a sandbox, and a very large, nice playground. Karissa is obsessed with the sandbox, but Madilyn always has to be coaxed into playing in the sand. There’s lots of lovely cedar elms and picnic tables scattered throughout the grove behind the play equipment. We always go for a little walk through the trails, too.

$$$–free (ca-ching!)

Happy? Oh, so very happy.

Preparation–a diligent parent might bring hydration? I usually don’t…eek. It’s okay, though, because water fountains.

Big Kid Bonus: Tom Slick Park

I’ve only been here once, but the playground was awesome. It was definitely better for older kids, but the play equipment was shaded and I was impressed. There’s a lake with a nice, easy trail to walk, exercise equipment, and what I’m pretty sure was a baseball diamond. This one is on the west side but was a really fun adventure.

$$$–free

Happiness–thumbs up

Preparation–sun protection, water

 

Crockpot Sausage and Cheese Pizza Stuff

Crockpot Sausage and Cheese Pizza Stuff

I love pizza. But you know, gluten and carbs and stuff. Fathead pizza is a great substitute and it’s not like it’s super time consuming, but sometimes I want the comfort food with minimal work.

Queue the Crockpot! What a wonderful invention.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 2 orange bell peppers
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • Garlic
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • 3 chopped yellow squash
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • Mozzarella
  • Parsley
  • Red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Cook sausage and set aside. Chop and dice all the vegetables and combine onion, peppers, tomatoes and tomato paste, and squash in crockpot. Cook on high for about 2 hours.
  2. Add garlic, oregano, basil and parsley. Stir in cooked sausage. Sprinkle with mozzarella and stir in. Top with more mozzarella. Crack the lid to vent steam and cook 1-2 more hours.
  3. Serve with red pepper flakes and parmesan.

Luxury Multipurpose Body and Hair Oil (and Makeup Remover!)

Luxury Multipurpose Body and Hair Oil (and Makeup Remover!)

Okay, so I don’t really do makeup much. I’m not well-versed in the cosmetics and beauty scene. However, I do like herbs and I like making my own stuff, so sometimes I make my own skincare products.

This can be used as a general facial cleanser with cotton pads. It can also be used as a natural makeup remover.

When I wipe my face with cotton pads after applying, it’s amazing to see how mich comes off on the pad. I don’t know how everyone else’s skin works, but if I have something like a pimple on my face and use this stuff for a day or two it clears right up.

Supplies:

  • A carrier oil (olive oil or coconut oil are great)–I really prefer coconut oil because I like the solid set at the end for easy application.
  • Dry herbs or essential oils: I like calendula, rose petals, chamomile, lavender, and jasmine flowers. Some other great additions include clove, thyme, sage, rosemary, and peppermint.
  • A way to slow-heat your oil. I use a  double boil technique with a glass bowl on the stove.
  • Cheesecloth
  • A small mason jar

Steps:

1. Select your oil and dry herbs. I like using ingredients that are well known for their anti-inflammatory properties, as well as cleansing and nourishing.

2. In a glass bowl, combine oil and dry herbs. Place inside a small pot or pan with about an inch of water. The water should not be touching the bowl.

3. Heat until water boils. Allow herbs to infuse for as long as you can possibly wait (mine is usually 1-2 hours, simply because I’m not patient). Make sure the pot always has water.

4. Remove glass bowl from pot. Remove from heat. Using your cheesecloth, strain the herbs out of the oil into your mason jar.

5. Add some essential oils if you like. Make sure to do this after the oil is off the heat, since essential oils are volatile.

6. Enjoy your new, luxurious oil!

Easy Low Carb Avocado Dip

Easy Low Carb Avocado Dip

If you’re looking for snack ideas for a low carb diet sometimes it can feel like quick and easy options are limited. One of the go-to snacks in our house is pork rinds, but let’s be honest, that gets so incredibly boring. I always get burnt out on pork skins pretty quickly.

That’s where the dip comes in: having a wonderful, creamy dip really ups the ante. This flavorful concoction contains both avocado and sour cream, packing quite the punch in terms of fat content. This amount is for 2-4 people, but can easily be multiplied for larger groups.

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Spices: I used 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp chili powder or cayenne , 1/4 tsp oregano, a pinch of salt, a dash of black pepper, and a dash of cumin.

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl mash avocado and lime juice with a fork.

2. Add spices and mix.

3. Add sour cream and mix until well combined.

See? Quick and easy!

Top Ten Baby Shower Gifts

Top Ten Baby Shower Gifts

We are just emerging from baby territory into young kids and it wasn’t long ago that we were having gifts showered upon us in preparation for an entire new phase of our lives.

Karissa is officially a kid and Madi, sadly, is no longer a baby in many ways. It’s a very bittersweet thing. But because we are fresh out of baby phase, I definitely still know what my favorite baby products are.

Disclosure: some of the supplies linked are affiliate links, meaning that, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you use this link to make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

1. Diapers

This is the practical parent in me speaking! Unless someone is doing EC, they’re going to need a ton of diapers. Why not give them a bit of a head start! We were given many, many different varieties and sizes of diapers at our baby showers for Karissa, and we didn’t have any left over. My favorites at the time were the Honest Company, they seemed comfortable enough, baby friendly, lots of cute prints/patterns, and most importantly (in my opinion), they didn’t leak like a lot of the other natural brands did. Since our kids are older now, I’ve actually changed to cheaper diapers, HEB store brand or Pampers depending on where we’re shopping.

2. Animal Pacifiers

I’ve written in depth about my experience with losing my breastmilk when Karissa was young. Because of this, she used a pacifier as a soothing mechanism frequently for a few months while we adjusted to the situation. I was bound and determined not to use pacifiers in our lives, but let’s be honest, sometimes life doesn’t care about our plans.

It only seemed natural to make sure that Madilyn had a pacifier that she liked, just in case. We settled on this cute moose pacifier  pretty quickly, and she loved it! Neither of my kids used pacifiers for long, maybe 2-4 months, but Madi still carried it around as a dear toy and chewing device for a long time. Worth every cent.

3. Books

We have a million books in our house. We have so many, in fact, that recently I made some cardboard bookshelves to try and keep them from being thrown across the floor every day. Which didn’t work, by the way–now the kids just take pleasure in removing them from the shelves to peruse and then toss on the floor. Argh.

Anyway, books are a great way to get a child interested in learning! I try really hard to read to the girls every day, and when I’m just not feeling it thankfully their dad steps in and handles things.

Some of our family favorites include: Little Yellow Bee, the GruffaloBlue Hat Green Hat, Dinosaur Dance (most Sandra Boynton), Hand Hand Fingers Thumb, Mr. Paint Pig, Karen Katz lift the flaps, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie

4. Baby Carrier/Sling

Hands down the number one most used item in my day to day life every day for the last (almost) three years is a ring sling. A family member gifted me a wonderful Maya wrap for Karissa’s baby shower and I was instantly in love. I actually ended up buying a second one, a lightweight summer sling, and a water sling.

Matt and I both tried many varieties of carriers and the ring sling is what we were both most comfortable with. The learning curve is so-so, but once you figure out how to comfortably sit baby in one it’s so fast and easy. I personally couldn’t do any of the front carriers well and I had a Moby wrap that I genuinely tried to get the hang of, but the way she sat in it always felt unstable for me. User error, surely. A big plus to the ring sling for me was that the kid sits on one side/hip, so my dominant hand and other side remained largely free. Usually it’s helpful for doing whatever work I’m trying to do or carry the other kid.

5. Multipurpose Healing Balm/Diaper Ointment

We use Kuumba Made salve for EVERYTHING. Any cut, rash, itch, or skin problem at all gets this salve slathered all over it. It’s just wonderful to not have to worry about having multiple tubes of stuff for different purposes when one great concoction will do the trick.

6. The Nosefrida

The Nosefrida is the modern parent’s solution to the uncomfortable problem of snot and congestion. This wonderful device replaces a traditional bulb syringe and is, in my opinion, easier to use and easier to clean.

7. Toys: Manhattan Toys, blocks, musical Caterpillar

This ridiculous caterpillar lived in our house until the batteries finally died, and then for a year after that, that’s how popular he was. As babies the girls both just loved the little mirror and the tune he played, and frequently it was the only thing that would calm them down when upset.

Some other wonderful toys for young ones include almost anything from Manhattan toys: we had the winkel rattle, classic baby beads, skwish classic rattle, and bababall. The bababall is still very popular with everyone for throwing because mom doesn’t get mad if soft toys are thrown in the house. These blocks are also still very popular. Blocks are really great. We used Megabloks for a while but swapped them out for Duplos now because I really like the size and options better.

Now that the kids are older, this LeapFrog music player, dubbed “the green thing”, is the most popular toy around. Someone gave this to Karissa when she was really young and soon after Madilyn was able, they began to fight over it. We actually bought a second one, which I kid you not to my horror perished in an open cup of water about two weeks after we bought it. We finally replaced the one that we lost with a pink one, which is now the “pink green thing”. The original one, now nearly 3 years old, is on it’s last legs, so I am both amused and embarrassed to admit that serious talks have begun on whether or not to buy another “pink green thing” to replace the original. I am probably making a mistake in revealing the most popular toy in our house, because we seem to heavily rely on Amazon’s stock of these and may rely on it until our kids turn 18 and move out of the house.

 

8. O Ball

My aunt gave us the O Ball  when Karisssa was 3 months old and uh honestly, I wasn’t all that excited. I mean, I got the concept of it, but it seemed really lackluster. So very, very wrong. This wonderful contraption mounts onto strollers, carseats, rockers, and probably bouncers (don’t know, never tried one) and so many things can be attached to it! This was a wonderful distraction for a year or so for Karissa, and then about 3 months for Madi because her sister would come over and take the toys that were hanging away from her.

This pairs wonderfully with the musical caterpillar from earlier. There were many, many hours of musical caterpillar hanging on O Ball when Karissa was small.

9. Rocker or bouncer

A lot of hours were also spent, for both of my girls, in a rocker a lot like this one. I can’t find the actual one that we used, I guess the latest and greatest model has replaced it. Any time I needed my hands free I could put them in here, usually with the O Ball to play with, and feel confident that they were comfortable and secure. Some naps were even taken in here, huzzah!

10. Money

I know, money is such a lame gift, but if you don’t know what they need they will be ever grateful for the donation.

Dinosaur Week!

Dinosaur Week!

Sometimes I like to do themes for the kids for a day, a few days, a week, or whatever. The local zoo has a fun summer thing set up where there are animatronic dinosaurs throughout the place, so I thought that this would be a really fun way to get the girls excited about going to the zoo to see the dinosaurs! If you aren’t near San Antonio, and thus don’t have a zoo or something to take them to see the dinosaurs, you can add a fifth day of dinosaur activities.

Warning: this post is a bit long extreme. I’m going to put a link to some of the recipes instead of inserting the whole recipe so that the length will be a little more reasonable.

Pro tip: my kids are young enough that we can add the word dinosaur to almost anything and make it more exciting, hence the general basis of my naming theme.

Disclosure: some of the supplies linked are affiliate links, meaning that, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you use this link to make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Day 1

Recipe: Prehistoric Peanut Butter Cookies

Recipe here.

Activity: Dinosaur Dance Party

My girls play this silly game where they put blankets on their heads and run around saying, “I’m a scary dinosaur!” They also really like to dance and listen to music. I thought, why not try to combine these two things? Plus, thanks to Sandra Boynton, we have a pretty good idea of how dinosaurs like to dance. So throw a blanket on your head and break out your best velociraptor moves!

Day 2

Craft: Dinosaur Sticker Collage

We found these awesome holographic dinosaur stickers at the dollar tree and have some others from Michaels. With the ridiculous amount of stickers I’ve collected, it’s hard to keep track of where they come from. These stickers seem like a lot of fun.

When we do focused crafts like these I like to do them with the kids so they can see my idea of how to do it. They do whatever they want, of course, but it’s fun to do together. First, with a green piece of paper, cut out a basic “ground” shape. You might need to do this for kids, too. On a second piece of paper (orange, yellow, or blue), glue this ground to the bottom. Now the dinosaurs have somewhere to roam!

Next, bust out the markers. We’re going to add some rocks, grass, trees, and a sun–or whatever you want to, that’s just what I’m adding. Landscape complete!

Add dinosaur stickers! Proudly display artwork on wall.

Activity: Dinosaur pool party

On this nice summer afternoon we’re filling up our cheesy eight dollar blow up pool and adding plastic dinosaur toys. Voila! Simple and still on theme.

Day 3

Craft: Dinosaur watercolors

I know, it sounds lame. I’ll be totally honest, too: it’s pretty lame. The kids will be happy, though. For this you’re just going to cut out the most basic dinosaur shape that you can out of construction or printer paper (you can trace, sketch, draw, or print one out if you need to–there are a ton of awesome free printable coloring pages available via a quick google image search).

Looking at Google images for assistance

Once you have your dinosaur, simply hand it to them with some watercolors. They will have a blast painting their own dinosaur. Once done, I like to let them (or do it myself) glue this to a second piece of colored paper and display on the wall once dry.

Recipe: Stone Age Soup

So, here’s the deal with Stone Age Soup…it’s really just a way to get everything that’s been sitting unused in the fridge into edible form. Squash, carrots, onion, frozen veggies, old meat or a scoop of gelatin…What I’m saying is that you probably don’t need to go out and buy ingredients. It’s a mom way of framing something dull into something a little more fun.

Day 4

Activity: Dinosaur Containers

These are what we’ve been using as our portable busy boxes lately due to the current dinosaur obsession. But it turns out every morning before breakfast they want to play with these while I cook. Win!

Recipe: T-Rex Treats

Recipe here.

Day 5

Day 5 must be awesome. It’s what all the days have been leading up to, which is why on day 5, we have zoo day! Alternatively, you can use these awesome endings.

Recipe: Dinosaur Pancakes

Recipe here.

I tried dinosaurs three ways: freehand, using a squirt bottle, and pouring into cookie cutters.

The squirt bottle probably would have been amazing if I used regular pancake batter, but I had some almond flour clump and clog the nozzle.

Cookie cutters worked the best, but the first batch I didn’t remove the cookie cutter quick enough and they got stuck.

Some of these attempts were just plain hilarious:

Strange monster and swirls
Turtle and witch “dinosaurs”

Activity: Paleontological Excavation

This might seem like a bit of work, but it’s really not so bad. Just bear with me.

First, you need to decide where your “dig” is going to happen. If you want to fill a tub with sand or dirt, that’s great. I’m going to pick a little patch of dirt outside because I think my girls will enjoy that a lot, and I’m not using it. Plus, it’s good for them to be in the dirt.

Next, locate some plain rocks that you can draw or paint on. I’m going to be lazy about it and just draw with a white paint marker. I have two kids, so I’m doing about 10 each. Draw some bones on there–the beauty of this is that they can be ugly/imperfect and it’s no big deal.

Bury your dinosaur “bones” in your excavation site. Be sure to spread them out a bit. If you’re doing this outside like us, stick some small sticks around the outside to mark the area and “rope” it off with some string.  Be sure to create separate dig sites for each kid.

Hand them a shovel and let them dig!