Host a Cookie Exchange

Cookie Exchanges are not just for the holidays – try hosting one anytime of the year.  It is great fun, a fabulous way to meet new neighbors and delicious eating!

It’s easy – just invite a small group over and have each person bring a different batch of cookies to share with the others.

  • guests need to bring enough cookies so that each guest can take one from each batch home as well as sample one at the party
  • send out invitations and provide recipe cards so they can write down the recipe for the cookie they bring
  • when guests RSVP, find out the cookie they plan to bring so there won’t be any duplicates
  • make tent cards so your guests can write down the name of their cookie

Have fun!

Guinea Pigs are Great Pets for Kids

Guinea Pigs for Pets

Pet Guinea Pigs for kids


Has your child been begging for a pet?  My son wanted a pet to be all his and after much discussion, we decided on a guinea pig and off to the pet store we went.  We fell in love with the Abbys – their tousled look was so adorable.  Their fur went every which way – lots of cow licks!  We needed a cage, a house, a water bottle, a food dish, some chew toys, bedding, hay and pellets – and of course the guinea pig – and we were all set.

Guinea pigs are lovable little creatures.  We often take Benji out of his cage to cuddle.  He squeaks with delight and sometimes will lick our faces.  He even will start to squeak when we come down the hall.  Guinea Pigs are fairly easy to maintain as their dietary needs can be satisfied with quality pellets, some fresh fruit and vegetables, clean timothy hay and fresh water.  It is important that the pellets contain Vitamin C as their bodies cannot manufacture it on its own.  There are also certain fruits and vegetables that they cannot eat – but lists are easily found on the Internet.

Their cages should be cleaned once a week – they do poop a lot and the bedding gets soggy from their urine.  It really isn’t time consuming cleaning the cage – but our son’s room does get dusty from the shavings and our vacuum gets clogged sometimes when vacuuming up the spilled shavings and hay.

We brush him often as Guinea Pigs do shed a lot.  Interesting enough, only the white fur on him sheds, the tan does not.  We have to clip his nails too as the grow long and curl under.  We are fortunate that he has white nails as it is easier to see where the quick starts so we don’t clip too much and cause bleeding.  Guinea Pigs teeth also always grow, so good chewing toys are necessary to keep them ground down.

In conclusion, Guinea Pigs are a great little pet for a child.  They are loving and easy to take care of.


Puppies and Kids

As I was growing up, my family always had at least one dog as a pet.  So as an adult, it just seemed empty to me to have a home without a dog.  My husband was not a dog lover, but he is now.  We recently got a new puppy, our third Gordon Setter, a spunky female named Piper.  We had 3 Gordon Setters when I was growing up and they were such wonderful family dogs, that I carried on the tradition.  Spyder was our first Gordon Setter, a rescue dog that was almost 5 years old when we got him.  We had a very large vet bill when we had him checked out as his mouth was in terrible condition and he needed 3 root canals – but we didn’t even think twice.  Spyder was the best dog we could have ever asked for to have around our toddler son.  He would tolerate anything and would only whimper now and then and give us a look like “do I have to take this?”.  After a couple of months, I had the idea that Spyder needed a play mate and we got Reggie, a bouncing little puppy.  Reggie was a good dog too, just more energy.  We also could trust him with our son.

Now 16 years later, we have a new puppy to grow up with our second son who is now 10 years old.  Piper is a sweet girl and we are again reminded that puppies are like toddlers – but worth every moment.  My sons will have the memories of growing up with a loyal friend and we will see if they carry on the tradition and get dogs of their own when they move out on their own.

So – having a puppy around your kids is a choice that should be considered carefully.  Puppies do have sharp teeth & claws, they can bite and scratch, and they can jump up.  They have accidents in the house, bark and things will get ruined.  But for us – it was an easy choice – man’s best friend will always be part of our lives.




the folks at Cow & Lizard

Kids and Boo-Boos

Much to a mother’s heartache, Boo-Boos do happen to their kids.  I was reminded of this as we were sitting outside the local coffee shop enjoying the beautiful morning and an iced coffee.  A little boy about a year and half old was there with his mother and grandparents.  He was walking between them, talking up a storm and walked right into the corner of the table which was just at the height of his forehead.  A big bump immediately appeared and oh it was heartbreaking to see.  You can’t keep your kids in a padded room and even with 3 adults watching one toddler, thing still happen.  It is part of growing up and it can happen anywhere.  With a little ice and lots of kisses and cuddles from his mother, the little boy’s boo-boo felt better and he was off exploring again.

I’m sure we all have blemishes on our bodies that we can recall from childhood accidents.  Mine is a scar on my calf from learning to ride a two wheel bike without training wheels.  What is yours?

Happy Labor Day!

Enjoy the day off.

The folks at Cow & Lizard

Encouraging Creativity Through Imaginative Play

Play is essential to healthy childhood development.  It allows children to find their creativity, while building upon their social, cognitive and emotional strengths.

Storytelling, nurturing and role playing are important ways of fostering imagination and learning skills.

Puppets are a great way to inspire parent and child moments and young storytellers.

Dolls and stuffed animals make perfect companions for nurturing or pretend play.

Play mats and soft block sets will encourage the development of cognitive and motor skills.

Dress up clothes will take the creative minds to the land of make believe.



Favorite Halloween Costumes

What was your favorite Halloween costume when you were a kid?  Mine was a Pilgrim costume by grandmother had made for me.  I still can remember the stiff gray dress with the white collar, apron and bonnet.  I felt very special wearing this costume as my grandmother had sewn it for me and I never saw anyone else in a Pilgrim’s costume to this day.  I probably wore it for 2 maybe 3 Halloweens until I could no longer squeeze into it.  I don’t remember any of the other costumes I wore as a child – only this special one.

My fondest memories of my oldest son’s costumes was a Donald Duck costume I made for him.  I couldn’t find a pattern, so I made it up myself.  I used fake white fur material to make the shell which I made a big tush that was stuffed to plump it out.  I then made a sailor’s top out of blue jersey, used yellow ribbon for the accent and a wider red ribbon to tie around his neck in a loose bow.  He wore orange sweatpants, white gloves and I made orange covers for his shoes out of felt.  We had visited Disney World earlier in the year from which he had a baseball cap with Donald Ducks bill and face on it – so he wore this on his head to complete the costume.  We got so many compliments on this costume.  His preschool class paraded around the local zoo and it was perfect – even the stuffed tush waddled when he walked. 

Homemade costumes are great – but there  are many fabulous ones you can buy. 

For the your little monster to roar around in – check out this awesome monster outfit at

Monster Costume

For your little princess, a darling dramaticsGroovy Girls costume to match her favorite doll – check Lakinzie at

Groovy Girls Darling Dramatics Costume

Other monster costumes and Groovy Girls Darling Dramatics costumes available at

Walnuts, Blueberries and Seashells

Every once in awhile, you hear on the news about a kids lemonade stand that gets closed down because they didn’t have a permit or something like that.  It always gets me angry.  I do remember all the things we used to do as kids to make some extra money and wer were never bothered.

Our family was taking advantage of a sunny day to go bicycling along the wonderful bike trails in Madison WI and Dane County and I noticed that the walnuts were starting to fall.  It reminded me of when I was a kid living in Decorah, IA at the time.  We lived on about 10 acres that had tons of walnut trees on them.  My father told my brothers and I that if we gathered up all the walnuts, we could sell them.  We spent our afternoons outside when we got home from school filling boxes and boxes full of the walnuts that had fallen to the ground.  It turned out to be quite alot of walnuts that we ended up hauling to the curb, but unfortunately, we were never able to sell them.

When we lived in Goose Rocks Beach, Maine – there was a blueberry farm down the road that all the local kids would pick pints of blueberries and get paid by the amount picked.  It was great fun and earning some money of our own was always great. 

My brothers and I also collected sea glass, shells, driftwood and anything else the sea had washed up and crafted little decorations from them.  We set up a roadside shop and sold the items to tourists passing by.  We called our shop DEC DEK – down east crafts by down east kids.  We each made alittle bit of money and at an age too young to get a workers permit for a summer job, we appreciated anything we could do to make money.

Hopefully kids will still be creative and ambitious in their pursuit of lemonade stands and other ideas for earning some extra money.  Valuable lessons and good work ethics at an early age.

Homemade Playdough Recipe

Here is a great recipe for homemade play dough.

Colored Playdough


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • Food coloring
  • Saucepan
  • 1 cup flour


  1. Combine water, oil, salt, cream of tartar, and food coloring in a saucepan and heat until warm.
  2. Remove from heat and add flour.
  3. Stir, then knead until smooth. The cream of tartar makes this dough last 6 months or longer, so resist the temptation to omit this ingredient if you don’t have it on hand.
  4. Store this dough in an airtight container or a Ziploc freezer bag.

When my son was in middle school, one of their projects was to give a demonstation in front of the class.  He immediately thought of  making this play dough when he was younger.  So he practiced making the playdough while talking through the steps.  The practice playdough was put into bags and he attached the recipe to hand out to his class after the demonstration.  Of course he couldn’t actually cook at school, so he mixed the ingredients and then produced a second pan with the already cooked dough – just like those cooking demonstrations on TV when they reach down and produce a perfectly cooked dish.  He was a natural and his teacher and class loved his demonstration.

Happy Day!

the folks at Cow & Lizard

Treasure Hunts

When I was a little girl, we lived in California for awhile.  The neighborhood we lived in was filled with kids and the elementary school we attended was right behind our house.  It was a fun time – roller skating in the streets, pool parties, riding our bikes to the park, playing at the school.  I returned to the neighborhood once when I was grown only to find that the school had been bulldozed and condos were built in its place.  The street showed no signs of kids playing.  It was sad as I had such happy memories.

One activity the neighborhood moms would plan for the kids was an annual treasure hunt.  We selected teams and off we went with the first clue in search of the next clue with the ultimate treasure our goal.  We had a blast as we ran through the yards trying to figure out the clues. 

Organize a neighborhood treasure hunt for the kids at your next block party.  The clues do not have to be difficult (take 100 steps away from the house, turn right, look under the rock, etc) and the treasure doesn’t need to be extravagant (I think we won a box of colored sidewalk chalk). 

Happy Treasure Hunting!

the folks at Cow & Lizard

Kick the Can

In the days before internet, cable TV, VCRs, Ipods, game systems, color TV, etc., we used to play outside most of the time.  One of the games we would play was called Kick the Can.  We always played it in the evening as the sun was setting and kids from all over the neighborhood came out to play.  I can still remember the excitement and thril from yelling “allie allie oxen free!” – not sure on the spelling.  Try a game of kick the can with your kids and see how it goes.

Here is how I remember playing the game – but I am sure there are many different ways to play it.

Choose a kid or a team of kids to be “it” and place a can in an open space like the middle of a backyard. The other kids run off and hide while “it” covers his/her or their eyes and counts to 100. “It” then tries to find and tag each of the kids. Any kid who is caught and touched or “tagged” is sent to the jail - an area for all the captured kids to remain,  in plain sight of the can. Any kid who has not been caught can “kick the can”. If they can do this without being caught, then one of the captured kids is set free each time the can is kicked — the first one in is the first one out, until the person kicking the can is tagged or all the captured kids are freed. We used to yell “allie allie oxen free!” when someone went free.  If “it” catches all of the kids he/she or they wins the round and then a new “it” is designated for the next round.

Put your own spin on this old game and have fun!

The folks at Cow & Lizard