Friday, November 21

Getting it together

I am finally getting my act together as a mom. I had an all day conference today. I hate being gone on Fridays not only because I miss our standing park day date with the other homeschool friends but because it makes Shabbat preparations so hard. Before today if I had to be gone all day on Friday it usually meant a “faked” Shabbat with a store bought Challah and dinner out on the way to shul. Not today. I left the house this morning with challah rising in the fridge, a crockpot meal ready to hit the button and asparagus ready to steam.

I am only starting to get my act together with this organization game called motherhood. If I truly had my act together my menu planning would have reflected my plans for today and included a crockpot meal instead of the planned roast turkey and I would have had dessert prepped as well. We had dinner at home and fresh challah but a store bought dessert. Still I am making progress and proud of it.

Thursday, November 20

Friday's Finds - Fairies


As all my loyal readers know I am obsessed with Fairies. Fantasy novels have been my preferred reading genre since I became an independent reader. I am currently reading the latest installment of Laurell Hamilton's Fairy series, Swallowing Darkness. I just started it so I cannot really review it yet. The series as a whole is nice mind candy. It is not a profound thought provoking series. But it is a captivating story which provides a nice escape. As a mom I sure need an escape sometimes.

Yet as much as I love fairies and fairy stories, I cannot stand the insipidness with which most children's books treat fairies. One wonderful exception to this general rule is The Barefoot Book of Fairies. It is an anthology of twelve stories from around the world about realistic fairies. These are classic stories retold in modern language.

One of my favorite is "The Fairies and the Cake Baker." The young mother is a town baker. The fairies, who of course love sweets, come steal the mom away to bake for them in Fairie. The mom uses her wits to stall and finally free herself and her family. Yet even at the end she shows respect to the Fairies and leaves them treats periodically.
I won't give away everything but I do want to share another example with you, "Fairie Mischief". Fairies are some of the most famous mischief makers around. In this story, the fairies share some of their favorite tricks.

This book is a wonderful way to share the timeless joy of classic fairy stories with all ages of children.

Do you have any favorite Fairy books or any book to recommend? Share your favorites here.

Wednesday, November 19

WFMW - Immersion Blender


I try to keep my kitchen as basic as possible. There are not many gadgets I use or store. I keep cleaning out my cabinets to get rid of more and more of them.

One of the tools that makes this possible is my immersion blender. I ave the Kitchenaid brand. When my old one broke, someone gave me a different brand as a replacement. I used it one time then went out and bought another Kitchenaid. I do not use my stand blender at all thanks to my immersion blender.

This is the time of year when my stick as a I call it gets a real work out. I use it to make all my applesauce. This year we put up 45 jars of applesauce. I also use it when making mashed potatoes, squash, and soup. I found a new use as well. I made my own pumpkin this year. I roasted it and then pureed it with my stick. Viola. No more need for canned pumpkin.

For more great tips check out Rocks In My Dryer

Monday, November 17

Menu Planning Monday

Laura over at Orgjunkie hosts Menu Plan Monday each week. I have been doing this for a few weeks now. It helps us keep track of what we are eating so that I can see where the favorites are and whaat experiments were a success or failure. Starting in January we are on a super strict budget so I am trying some food changes here and there around holiday baking / shopping to prepare.

Frittatas are one of those changes. Eggs are less expensive than meat and still something Daddy is willing to eat. So we have frittata on the menu every other week minimum. I plan it for Family swim night because they are good hot or at room temperature and travel well which means we can eat it in the car if we need to.

Meatloaf is another one of those money expanders I am trying to include in the rotation more often. I use homemade bread crumbs and egg as filler to stretch the ground turkey in the meatloaf.

Sunday – Spaghetti with homemade sauce / salad
Monday – Family Swim Night / frittata
Tuesday – Girl Scout Training / Chuck E Cheese
Wednesday –Meatloaf / green Beans / roasted acorn squash
Thursday - leftovers
Friday – Shabbat – Conference – roast chicken stuffing steamed asparagus
Sat - Gone

Saturday, November 15

Friday Finds - Thanksgiving

Please forgive me. This week's Friday Find is late due to technical difficulties. I hope you all will still add your favorite Thanksgiving finds. Our family needs some new good books for Thanksgiving.


Mary's First Thanksgiving – This book is set during the early 1900's. Mary and her family are recent immigrants from Ireland. This is the first year they are in America for Thanksgiving. Mary comes home from school angry saying she hates Thanksgiving and has nothing to be thankful for. Her family is extremely poor and has little food yet her parents help her find reasons to be thankful and show her how life is good and getting better.

I really like that the book shows an honest child’s perspective of envy and poverty. I also like that it shows Mary finding age appropriate yet meaningful things to be thankful


Fletcher and the Falling Leaves – This book is more an Autumn book than a Thanksgiving book but we hold it until November rather reading it earlier in Autumn so it fits to me. Some people have recommended this books a helpful tool for little ones faced with death / grief. It can be read simply as a season book or used as a jumping place for other discussion. It shows the circle of life as Fletcher deals with fear and grief as his favorite tree loses its leaves.





Thursday, November 13

Baby Wearing Week

Welcome to the inaugural Babywearing Week.

As Babywearing International puts it“Babywearing” simply means holding or carrying a baby or young child using a baby carrier. Holding babies is natural and universal; baby carriers make it easier and more comfortable, allowing parents and caregivers to hold or carry their children while attending to the daily tasks of living. Babywearing helps a new dad put a fussy newborn to sleep. It allows a new mom use both hands to make a sandwich. It lets an experienced parent or caregiver carry a baby on her back and wash the dishes, do the laundry, take a hike, weed the garden … all while keeping the baby safe and content"

There are several organizations that can help you find out more about babywear as well as which carrier is right for you and your child. I recommend NINO as well as API.

And I will take gratutious advantage of this opportunity to share some picture of me wearing Froggy.
This is Froggy at 7mths in the ring sling. I wish we had earlier pictures of her in the Moby.

She is 9 months here getting ready for her first plane trip with just Mommy.

And a shot of Daddy wearing her for her first H18 mths. She can walk well but not enough to keep up.

I still wear her even now at 3 years old. But not it is only on long long days at the zoo or museum or in the airport. Not at fun times when we get pictures to share. I miss wearing her more even as I love the precocious running fun we have now.

Wednesday, November 12

Holiday Baking

Some people have me to explain my system fo holiday baking. Here it is.
I start early getting organized and making my lists sometimes even before Halloween. I decide who all needs a cookie tray. Cookie trays for individuals contain 6 cookies of 4 different types for a generous total of 2 dozen cookies. The trays I make for parties or groups get a dozen of each type for a total of 4 dozen cookies.

So once I have my list of recipients made up I know how many cookies I need to bake. This years list totals 30 dozen. That includes teacher present, neighbor offerings, party platters and hostess gifts. It sounds like a lot but being organized makes it easy. As well I don't only bake 4 types of cookies. That would be boring to me.

I start now trying out new cookies and each time I try something that sounds new and fun, I also make a batch of a proven winner for the freezer. I freeze the batter not baked cookies. Drop cookies are frozen in drops. Rolled cookie batter is frozen in a sheet. Sliced cookies are frozen in a log. Freezing only the batter gets lots of the work done ahead of time while still giving a fresh baked taste in the final product.

Baking time is all of December. Having the frozen dough allows me to bake dozens of different kinds of cookies quickly. I will prepare a cut out cookie while a drop cookie is baking. Or I can slice up some fancy log cookies. And in one evening have a party tray of different kinds ready while still keeping the family cared for.

This is the list of cookie type I am planning for this year. The ones with question marks are the new kinds I am trying in the next week to see if they doable.

Sugar cookie cutouts
Gingerbread cutouts
Nobake peanut oatmeal
Chocolate chip kisses
Cranberry orange pinwheels
Cranberry drops ??
Pumpkin cookies
Chocolate mint snowtop cookies
Chocolate
amaretto bars
Cranberry magic bars ??
Pecan shortbread logs ??

WFMW - Humidifier


Our family is not sick often. We trundle on without any problems all year long. We spend lots of time outdoors and with the windows open.

Then Autumn comes. The windows are closed more and more. Finally we give up and put the heat on. And start to look and act sick. Until I remember to put the humidifier on too. The instantly we all start to feel better again. No more bloody noses, less coughing and sneezing. It is amazing. If the economy were different or we had more savings I might invest in a whole house humidifier. But for now what works for us is a simple $15 unit from CVS that sits on the floor.

For more tips, pop over and visit Rocks in My Dryer

Carnival of Homeschooling


I missed entering the carnival this week. I have just been too busy with my own schooling. Melissa has done a lovely job pulling together all the great submissions with her theme - Who let the dogs out. Stop by. You can visit with her dogs, a golden retriever and a goldendoodle as well as learn lots more about all kinds of dogs while you take a tour of neat ideas, fun games, and creative tips from your fellow homeschoolers.

There are tips for little ones learning their letters as well as older children taking a tour of the world. There are interviews and giveaways and lots of other things. Just because I missed out does not mean you need to.

Monday, November 10

Book Giveaway - Childrens' Winner!!



Please help send congratulations to Kris and her two little girls who will receive Animal Boogie as well as Heidi and her boisterous family who will receive Llama Llama.

I tried to use the random number generator to choose the winner. After 3 tries where it picked a winner I could not contact, I gave up and picked based on who had valid contact information.

I hope you have enjoyed all the book giveaways as much as I have. I did not win anything despite many many entries. I did find many new fun blogs to enjoy though. That alone has made it worthwhile to me.

I hope all the people who have won here enjoy their books. Whether you won or not I hope you come back to visit often.

Friday, November 7

Book Giveaway - WInner!!


Congratulations to Tracy of Frugal Fairie. She is now the proud owner of Super Natural Cooking. Her spicy vegetable soup was truly inspiring. She has lots of fun recipes and frugal ideas on her site so go check her out and tell her congratulations while you are at it.

Fridays Find - Yoga

This week is Book Giveaway Week in the blogosphere and coincidentally Barefoot Books just announced a free product giveaway. All my loyal readers know how much I love Barefoot books so clearly these became my Friday Finds

Living Barefoot Free Yoga Planet Banner 468x60 U.S.


Yoga Planet is a new addition from Barefoot. It is similar in concept to Yoga Pretzels but takes the concept farther. Instead of just yoga poses, it also adds relaxation tips for children and cards to help the whole family live more ecologically.

But neither of those are really books. The book that started it all is My Daddy is a Pretzel. It is a favorite in our household. Before acquiring this book, we had never done yoga or even considered it. Now Froggy pulls it out and asks to do yoga. So much so that later today we will take our first Mommy and Me Yoga class at the local Arts Center. Unlike most exercise books, the is a story here. You can read the book snuggled on the sofa and never move. The setting is a classroom where each child tells about their parents. Each yoga pose is related to a task or job the parent does.



"Niki says her mommy is a gardener. Sometimes my daddy's a tree."

The images are fun and captivating. Even a pre-reader can pick up this text and start learning. Yet it can also be a story enjoyed alone The best combination of everything

It is your turn now. Share your finds - be it for yoga, exercise or any other guide.

Tuesday, November 4

Book Giveway - Children

Here is a midweek pick-me-up to continue the joy of Book Giveaway Week.

This one if for the little ones. Do you have a little one in your family? Then share with them the joy of books. I will pick two winners. Tell me which book you want and bit about the child with whom you read. Earn extra chances to win by posting about this giveaway in your blog - leave the link to your post in a comment. Earn a third chance to win by subscribing to this blog.

Winners will be announced Monday morning.


Animal Boogie will let you shake, shimmy and boggie-woogie-oogie with the creatures of the Indian jungle! Enjoy a tale that is bright and fun, wacky and exotic! The vibrant, fun illustrations in this book are packed full of jungle animals to find and count. The rhyme bounces along introducing a colorful collection of intriguing animals through lively word play and repetition. A musical score is included in the book.
In this sequel to Llama Llama Red Pajama, llama llama gradually learns to become a partner with Mama LLama rather than battling her.

Carnival of Homeschooling - Fables

Apollo's Academy presents a fable based fieldtrip around the blogosphere with the Carnival of Homeschooling #149

Check it out!

Torah Study Week 2 Review

Now that Froggy is 3, we started Torah Study. We are using My First Parsha Reader. It was the only Parsha study I could find that was geared towards preschoolers. The language is more silted than regular books or even the bible story books we have. It took some convincing initially to get Froggy to sit for the reading but we persevered. My goal is to read each parsha at least three times. So far we have made that. The questions at the end of the parsha have not been useful thus far. I think they may prove more engaging and relevant when we do the series again next year. We have delved deeper. For instance, in Noach, there is no mention of the rainbow. As well, with Babel we talked about how bad ideas sometimes get a hold and crowd out the good ideas and how we have to help make sure the good ideas get heard.

After completing two full weeks, I am finally starting to see results. Only now is Froggy starting to ask about the stories. And what does she ask about, not Lech Lecha but Beraishit. She asks about Cain fighting with Abel. And about G-d punishing him.

With Lech Lecha, we start something new. We are creating a Hebrew word book. I had no intention of teaching Hebrew yet but since each parsha uses so many Hebrew words, I am without meaning to. Why not make it meaningful?

Books Books and More Books

If you love books and you love saving money then this is your week in bloggydom. It is Book Carnival Week and there are lots of free books to win

Brimful Curiosities is offering Nature Discovery.
Lipstick to Crayons is offering The Daring Book for Girls
Confessions of a Bibliophile is offering two books

Monday, November 3

Pumpkin Cookies

All year long I crave pumpkin foods. But I tend to be alone in that so I don't indulge. This time of year, everyone else wants them to so I am free to indulge to my hearts content.

Here is one of my favorite - Pumpkin Cookies

Ingredients

* 1 cup applesauce
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 cup pumpkin puree
* 1 egg
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1 cup raisins
* 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts

Directions

Add applesauce, sugar pumpkin, egg and vanilla; beat well.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.
Add to wet mixture; blending well.
Stir in raisins and chopped pecans.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Bake pumpkin cookies at 350° for 12 to 15 minutes.

Makes about 36 pumpkin cookies.

MPM - Comfort Foods


This is recovery week at our house. After the rush of all the Fall holidays and birthdays, we now settle into a time of calm and our menu reflects it. There is nothing fancy this week just some simple comfort foods that help us feel the calm we need. I will add more recipes as we make them.

Sunday - Soup and biscuits
Monday - Crab and Broccoli Quiche, Pumpkin Cookies
Tuesday - Chicken Fajitas, Black Beans, Rice
Wednesday - Tofu Stir Fry - This appeared on last week's menu but never got made.
Thursday - leftovers
Friday - Roast Turkey, Stuffing, Steamed Broccoli, Apple Crisp
Saturday - leftovers

For more menu ideas check out all this week's selection at Org Junkie

Book Giveaway - Cookbook


I love to cook. I love to experiment. So now I turn to you all inspire me. I want to see what you feed your family. And you can win Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson. This lovely cookbook can help everyone get more real food into the family.


Heres how to enter.

1. Post a recipe on your blog
2. Leave the link below in Mr. Linky
3. Place link to this contest somewhere on your blog.

You must do all three to be a valid entry.

And check back often. There will be lots more books to win all week.

Sunday, November 2

A Modern Day Barn Raising

Froggy's sovta gave her a swing set for her birthday. Today we had a couple of families over to help us put the frame up. It was like a modern day barn raising. The men put the structure together. I made some good wholesome food to keep the builders going. The children ran and played.

This is what we are replacing



Our Sturdy Builders



Laying out the tower


\ It is starting to look like something now


A break to enjoy some of the pleasures of autumn


And finally just as the sun starts to give out for the day, the super structure is complete enough that Froggy can give the wonderful new set a test drive. Daddy and I will spend most of next weekend putting on the final details but it is up and usable and that is what matters.

Thank you so much to those who came and helped today.

Park Day

Our local homeschool group is pretty small and pretty eclectic. We don't do much as a group although that is changing. We have started taking hikes and some of the older girls have joined a Girl Scout troop together.

What we do that we all can count on is Park Day. Every Friday we meet at a local park and let the kidlets just run. We are a hardy bunch and continue park day deep into winter. It is a young group. For most of the families, the oldest child is six or seven which makes it the perfect group for Froggy. From birth until recently, most of Froggy's friends came from a mom's group I found when desperate for support. These friends are in preschool now and not available much. I am glad she has her Park Day friends who are becoming closer and closer. I like the time with the parents who share a common world view, parents I can trust to understand.

Saturday, November 1

It's just a toy

I try really really hard to keep my mouth shut when I see what I deem to be bad parenting unless it is to a level where social services needs to be called. I could not yesterday.

We were at a local indoor play area with lots and lots of children. The mom i n question (we will call her shorty because she has a very short fuse) was having trouble dealing with her son and his toy. Shorty yelled at the boy to not throw the toy. Fine he could hurt someone. I kept my mouth shut. She yelled at him to be careful he was going to break it. Not so good but I still kept my shut by gritting my teeth. She lets him keep the toy and continue to play with it. Next she yanks the toy out of his hands and proceeds into a five minute rant on how he was breaking the toy. The rant was only five minutes because I interrupted.

It is only a toy. Toys are meant to be played with. If they get broken then they get broken. So be it. I am all for warning a child that the path they are on will likely break the toy and it won't be able to be fixed. But if they do then so be it. If a toy is not allowed to be played with or broken then it should not be given to a child. We should not yell at children and certainly not for playing with their toys in a manner than does not injury someone.

Congratulations!!

Please all help me congratulate PS. She is now the proud owner of Cooking with Herb. Thank you to all who entered. Keep an eye her for lots more giveaways. Monday starts book week giveaway.