Thursday, April 29
We are reading an eclectic collection this week. Our library finally got the new computer system up and running. That means all those requests I had been saving up finally got addresssed. It is sad that soon I won't be able to do that anymore. Our library is going to start charging for requests. It will change how we visit the library and not in a good way.
Little Pig is Capable is a hysterical tongue-in-cheek book sending out a plea to let our kids be just a bit more Free-Range. The story can be read (and the message received) with just the basic text of the book which is how we read it for the first couple of times. Then we added the text of parents' voices and the adults just giggled their way through. Froggy is too little to get much of the underlying humor but she loves the book.
Ten Days and Nine Nights is a very very simple book that tells the story of one family's adoption from the big sister's perspective. The simplicity of the book is what makes it. The text is a simple count down of the days and one activity per day till her new sister comes. The simplicity leaves lots of room for discussion and each family's perspective on the topic.
And for Earth Day last week I introduced a new poetry book that I love but is not going over so well with Froggy. The Earth is Painted Green is a beautiful collection of poems about our planet. The collection presents the year as the different shades of green. We have been reading a poem a day from "Planting Green" Here is one that did win Froggy over
I feel as though
the bush ere grown
especially for me.
I feel as though
I almost am
this little flowering tree
Come join the reading blog hop over at ReadAloud Thursday and Mouse Grows Mouse Learns
Tuesday, April 27
I am starting with extracurriculars since that is what prompted the review. I have signed Froggy up for swim team for the summer. This is a test for us on many fronts. It could fail (and thus make life simpler in many ways) for any combination of reasons.
- The team while it says it is not competitive and welcomes beginners may decide she is not developmental ready.
- Froggy may decide she is not up to it or willing to put in the effort/time
- I may decide that the time slot and/or commitment just does not work for our family
Summer Swim Team meets five times a week for one hour. My understanding is that we can easily elect not to attend all sessions each week but it is unlikely we will be able to participate and attend less than three. Worse yet all but one of the practices each week are in the evening right at what is now our dinner time.
That being the case it is a huge commitment, which then requires rethinking all other commitments. It is great time to try the concept since many of her other extracurriculars such as Religious School and Ballet will be ending around the same time.
Assuming that it works, we will need a new plan that will allow us to incorporate the concept. When we first enrolled Froggy in an extracurricular, we established that there should be one each of a sport, a musical activity and a scouting like activity at any given time and that within those categories she would be allowed to pick. Add in Religious School (which I view as non-optional) that makes a reasonably full schedule while allowing time for fieldtrips and short term special classes.
And yet I find myself torn. I want Froggy to continue with Ballet yet she and I both want her to start Suzuki Piano. She wants to take soccer and gymnastics and swimming. She wants to take ballet and piano. I can't say yes to two sports plus swimming but maybe I can say yes to one plus swimming? Can I say yes to both ballet and piano? I could if I could count ballet as her sport but there is swimming.
So here is our plan for Fall extracurriculars assuming swimming works.
If swimming does not work we will do
gymnastic (Fall) /Soccer (spring)
This is not ideal but it is a compromise I can live with and a very packed schedule for one little girl.
Monday, April 26
First a recap from the past week. I have been working on a paper and thus a terrible slacker in the kitchen. We never made the lasagna so it is back on this week's menu. I did try the Sloppy Joes though. I think they came out very well with almost no work at all.
**Update** I made the risotto. It turned out beautiful. The squash gave it an amazingly sweet taste. Next time I would add a bit more spice. Perhaps some cardamon or something to give it a bit of a kick.
Sunday Baked Chicken, Butternut Risotto, broccoli
Monday - Mom at Class - Tofu Stir Fry, rice, keem
Tuesday Lasagna made with homemade ricotta, a nice green salad, and garlic bread
Wednesday - picnic - cold roast chicken, pasta salad, veggie sticks, and fruit kebobs.
Thursday - Fish Sticks, niblet corn and carrot sticks.
Friday Our Vegetarian Shabbat - Challah, Rasberry Salad, Pasta of the Grape, Asparagus and Chocolate eggs
Saturday - Dinner at the Israeli Festival.
I am also finally going to try these in hopes of adding some variety to our portable breakfasts.
Wednesday, April 21
Froggy is reading Frog and Toad Are Friends to me. This is our first real introduction to the Frog and Toad series. They have been recommended to me several times but when I looked at them they left me uninterested. Yet during our last trip to the library while scouting through the "I Can Read" section I picked one up to try since it looked much better than many of the other alternatives. Froggy really likes it. The stories while not fantastic and thrilling to me are appropriate and acceptable (unlike Arthur or Dora). The text is challenging without being overwhelming for Froggy and there are just enough pictures to be interesting and yet not be a picture book.
And I am reading Little House in the Big Woods to her. I read the whole series when I was a bit older than Froggy. I am sure she will probably reread the series to herself when she hits that age but still it is fun sharing it with her. I am amazed and some of the bigotry and judgementalness that I did not rembmer being present. It provides opportunities for discussion. Laura is the same age as Froggy so we have been using that as a tie in and comparison. Laura has so much more responsibility than Froggy and it is motivating Froggy to do more for herself. It was wonderful for me as a parent to watch her talk about "sugar snow" with someone while reading a different Spring book that also had a late March snow storm. Reading this has pointed out how inconsistent Froggy's time sense is. We are now working on a time line to help her understand where all the different bits of history she knows fall relative to one another.
So that is what we are reading this week. Please check out Read Aloud Thursday to see what others are reading.
Monday, April 19
This week I am returning to a menu structure that worked well for us but fell by the wayside. We will have a vegetarian night, a fish night, a chicken night and a beef night.
Sunday - Burgers (which never got made last week) tator tots and peas
Monday - Mom at class - Pizza and salad
Tuesday- Sloppy Joes (made with leftover Brisket) niblet corn and green beans
Wednesday - Picnic Night, Tuna Fish, Crackers, Carrot Sticks, Apples and Cookies
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Challah, Lasagna made with homemade ricotta, a nice green salad, peach cobbler.
Saturday - a true Shabbat suedah out with friends and light dinner at home before Havdalah
Also this week I need to make lots of treats for the Annual CASA fundraiser. Here is last years list
Two Different Truffle Balls - maybe this one or this one
heart shaped brownie bites
bar cookie of some kind.
Wednesday, April 14
Can you find a neighborhood park close by where you can drop your child off unsupervised for even just a half hour to let them start being independent?
Why not? If the child is properly prepared there is no reason why they cannot be successful and safe yet I doubt many people will take this opportunity to venture into the Free-Range world. I worry that those who do will be considered unsafe and get in trouble with the legal authorities.
Raising Free-Range kids works for me. Check out other great tips at Works For Me Wednesday
Tuesday, April 13
We are reading some great stories to go along with our study and keep her interested while awaiting the metamorphosis.
From Caterpillar to Butterfly is a Stage 1 Science book that show the life cycle in a fun and interesting way. We checked out three different books of this type and as I expected this was the only one that we read multiple times.
Becoming Butterflies is part of the "Science Made Simple for Curious Young Minds" series. It is written as a story unlike the Stage 1 Science books. Froggy likes stories much better and will consistently choose these books over any non-fiction book. This series is the perfect compromise for us because while it is fiction the science is clear and accurate without the additions or falsehoods of the Magic School Bus series. Becoming Butterflies uses the Monarch Butterfly as its example specie and follows it through its migration.
Which worked wonderfully with a book we had already fallen in love with from a totally different direction. The Paper Princess Finds Her Way is a sweet story about a paper doll told from the doll's perspective. During her travels the paper princess meets a group of Monarch Butterflies and travels with them as they return to Mexico. We read this book many times before we even chose to raise the caterpillars. We pulled it back out to see the reunion again after reading Becoming Butterflies.
As well we have slowly been working our way through the "100 Books Your Child Should Hear before Kindergarten" lists . There have been some good ones but lots of loses as well. I have updated our list with the more recent additions.
Happily linking to FinerThingsFriday , What my child is reading , readaloud thursday
Monday, April 12
On a more positive note, I managed to get my green beans planted. We moved the Green bean lady to a more sunny spot in the yard. It is a much less convenient spot but it will hopefully yield a much greater harvest. We also planted four different kinds of potatoes. It is a little later than I had hoped to get these planted but better late than never. We are moving slowly towards increasing the amount of local produce in our diet much of which I hope will come from our garden.
The goal for this weekend is the cucumbers and zucchini.
Sunday, April 11
Ahhhh finally a normal week. Life is calming down and I can relax and try some new things in the kitchen. Quality Ground Sirloin was on sale at the market so that will feature heavily in this weeks menu. The weather is screaming spring and I want my menu to reflect that. We are trying hard to eat out less so I am planning lunches as well as dinners. We have a fabulous new backpack cooler that lets me easily and conveniently pack a picnic lunch for the whole family. This Shabbat we are having Salmon but for next Shabbat I need to come up with a fancy yet vegan meal to serve to our company. Got any suggestions?
Saturday - Tacos with homemade tortillas(recipe below), Black Beans, Mexican Rice, Simple Green Salad
Sunday - Tofu Stir Fry, rice, keem
Monday - (Mom at Class) Spaghetti with Homemade sauce and a green salad.
Tuesday- Burgers, Tator Tots, Green Beans
Wednesday - Swim Night Picnic - Cold Roast Chicken, coleslaw, Potato chips, cookies
Thursday - Pizza and carrot sticks
Friday-Challah, A new salmon recipe, rice, keem, asparagus,chocolate eggs
Saturday - leftovers or dinner out.
Rice and Beans (leftovers)
Pita Chips, Hummus and Carrot sticks
Hard Boiled Eggs, Apples and Challah
Roll Ups and pears
These fun treats shaped as hearts.
2 cups all-purpose flour (I personally use whole wheat)
3/4 teaspoon salt
heaping 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup oil
2/3 cup hot water
1. Mix all ingredients in food processor until dough ball forms (yes, with a lid on - this pic was taken after I mixed it). This takes less than a minute. I love how fast it is! Forget getting your hands all messy and nails gunky mixing ingredients yourself.
2. Knead for 2-3 minutes until smooth and well blended. The oil in the recipe seems to make it easy to knead on a counter without flour and made my hands oh so soft!
3. Cover with a damp cloth or paper towl and let rest for at least 15 minutes (or up to 2 hours according to other recipes).
4. Uncover and form into balls just larger than a golf ball. I used a scale and divided my dough pretty evenly. I found that 1 1/2 ounces works well to make small soft taco size tortillas and 2 - 2 1/4 ounces is a good size for burrito tortillas. I believe this recipe made 12 smaller balls or 8 larger ones. Cover again and let rest 15 minute to an hour.
5. Dust counter with flour and flatten ball with hands. With a flour dusted rolling pin, roll out to desired size (sorry no pic of that). I found that thinner is better (more real tortilla quality) but you definitely can roll too thin and tear it, so go slow and use enough flour to keep it from sticking. You can either roll one out at a time (but be careful you don't neglect the one cooking while you're rolling) OR roll each one out and separate with paper towels or plastic wrap before you start cooking.
6. Cook on a hot skillet or pan (hot enough that drops of water quickly sizzle and dance on the surface) for 30 seconds - 1 minute per side. Flip and pat down gently with your spatula when bubbles start to form. They cook fast and don't let them cook too long because they get crispy and not soft and flexible like you want.
7. Admire the tortilla goodness you've just created and feel like the domestic, frugal goddess you are!
Long ago, I read about the Green Hour and have tried valiently to provide that for Froggy at least on a weekly average. We succeed a minimum of 9 months out of the year and come close during even during the winter.
During April though it is more a question of convincing people to stay inside long enough to get the necessary chores done. Even I am balking at the minimal confinement necessary to grocery shop or prepare dinner. We live outside during this season, taking hikes with friends, cleaning up the yard, planting our garden, riding bikes and blowing bubbles.
I am a terrible picture taker so I won't be playing along with 5 Orange Potatoes but we will be heading out every day. If you are looking for ideas of what to do pop over for some great suggestions.
Monday, April 5
This is a rough week. I am leaving on Tuesday immediately following Yitzkor services to go to Florida for my grandmother's funeral. I am packing up as much of my Passover stuff as possible ahead of time. I will not return home at the end of Peseach which means Dad will have to pack up whatever is left. Can you tell I am a trusting fellow?
Sunday - KLP Meatloaf, applesauce, kale chips
Monday -Daddy cooks- Steak, oven fries and carrot sticks
Tuesday - Pesach ends at sundown - Dinner out with Grandparents - Mom gone
Wednesday - Grandma cooks - Mom away
Thursday - Mom is back (yippee) Tofu Stirfry, rice and Keem
Friday - Challah, Roast Chicken, green beans, roasted red potatoes, melted icecream cake made with coconut milk icecream.
Saturday - leftovers.
Sunday, April 4
One way people have recommended buying local in an affordable manner is through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group. We tried a CSA once and did not like it. There were no fruits and lots of stuff my family did not eat.
Well I looked again this year and found one (too late to join for this year unfortunately) that I like much better. They include lots of fruits in the share. But it is the added benefits that come with the share that sold me. Since the place where we have gone strawberry picking the past 2 years is not offering them anymore, I was looking for a new place and this one looks great and even claims to be low pesticide use. We will be heading out to several of their u-pick events this year and joining the farm next year.
Thursday, April 1
Goodbye. I am glad that your parting was swift and soft. We will miss you. I know these last 8 months have been hard without Mom.
You are an amazing woman. You were always cool even though you were a grandparent. You were never the fuddy old lady that some of the "Aunties" were. It made me smile and giggle to think of you teaching dance class while I felt old and decrepit rolling out of bed to tend to the Froggy.
You are an amazing woman. I had trouble dealing with just one miscarriage. Yet you had so many and the stillbirths as well. And yet you kept going and trying again.
I am sorry that I was not able to hug you and kiss you one more time but I know Mom was waiting for you and gave you lots of hugs and kisses.
You will be missed. We love you so much.
Your loving granddaughter