Thursday, March 31, 2011

Beaten at My Own Game

Two weeks ago, Big Brother put Little Brother's clothes in the hamper for him after their bath and told me he did it, "Because that's what Lent is about."

Last night, I reminded him several times to hang up his coat after playing outside. Finally, my mom offered to help him. A few minutes later, I gently chided him that he needs to be responsible for his own things and it wasn't Meema's job to put away his coat. His response? "But Mom, that's what Lent is about. Helping other people."

What could I say to that?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Creative Cousins: Montessori

Last week my sister and niece, "Birdie", came over for another session of "Creative Cousins." My sister has recently been reading about the Montessori method, so I set up a selection of practical life activities for the kids.

Water transfer with a baster was very popular,

as was transferring ice cubes with tongs,

but I think polishing pennies stole the show!

It takes lots of concentration!

Little Brother slept through the work session, but he woke up in time for a pizza lunch!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Signs of Spring

The first signs of Spring have arrived in our little home! Because our life revolves around the seasons of the Church and the rhythm of the liturgy, the first sign of coming Life is not the first daffodil or the return of our backyard birds, but the transition from Ordinary Time to Lent.

I love all the seasons in our corner of the world, but I have to admit that the tail end of winter and early spring is a bleak time. The snow is old and dirty. The exposed grass is brown, and the sky is gray. It is fitting that the Church is also stripped and bare during this time. On Ash Wednesday we are told, “Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.” We hide our Alleluia, and the statues and crosses are draped in purple. In our house, the winter ornaments that adorned the festivity stand are put away, replaced with grapevine, bare of leaves and reminiscent of His Crown of Thorns.

Then, slowly, the sky lightens. The first shoots appear. The rain washes away the last of the snow and the grass is greener. The time draws closer.

Finally, the world bursts forth in bloom, and the Church bursts with rejoicing, "Christ is risen! Alleluia, alleluia!”

Back in the Sandbox!

On the second day of spring...

On the third day of spring...

We've had several more inches of snow since this picture was taken three hours ago!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Time for a Carseat Reminder!

The new recommendations for children and car seats have a lot of people confused and, frankly, upset. I've been reading many negative comments from parents about keeping children rear facing past age one and about the extended use of booster seats. I was part of a lively discussion last night, and this morning a friend shared this article that very clearly states why rear facing is safest, as well as why children should stay in 5-point harnesses and boosters as long as possible.

Here are some relevant points:

The central point of the report is that at every transition — from a rear-facing harnessed seat to a forward-facing harnessed seat to a belt-positioning booster — children lose some protection. So the pediatricians recommend that kids remain in each stage for as long as their car seats allow.

"Every parent wants their kids to achieve things as fast as they can," said Dr. Ben Hoffman, a University of New Mexico associate professor of pediatrics who helped write the new policy. "That's fantastic for developmental milestones or for school. But for child passenger safety, that's the wrong attitude to have."
Here is a very frightening video that shows just what happens to children in a crash: The Importance of Rear-Facing (skip to 1:30 for crash test images).

My friend Angela also has a recent post on rear facing.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Baby Brother at 4 Months

Teething like mad and playing with everything!

Calendar Ring

Helping us count the months, weeks, and days...

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Classic!

Sure to be familiar to many as an old stand-by!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Book Cooks, Week Two

It was fairy tale week! We made Cinderella's Pumpkin Tartlets and Snow White's Applesauce. I didn't get any pictures again (the class is far too short and chaotic), but here are the recipes:

Cinderella’s Pumpkin Tartlets (from Fairy Tale Feasts)


2 cups pumpkin
½ cup evaporated milk
2 eggs
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ginger
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. nutmeg

¼ cup ground walnuts
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. cold butter

4 pie crusts


1. Preheat the oven to 425.
2. Mix all the filling ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
3. Grind walnuts in a food processor. Add the brown sugar and butter cut into small pieces. Grind until crumbly.
4. If your muffin pan is not non-stick, butter the insides or spray with cooking spray.
5. Lay out the pie crusts and cut them into rounds.
6. Gently press the rounds into the muffin tin.
7. Put 1 tablespoon of filling in each shell.
8. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the topping.
9. Bake for 10 minutes.
10. With the tartlets still in the oven, lower the temperature to 350 and cooking for 12-15 minutes more, until a toothpick comes out clean.
11. Cool for 5-10 minutes before removing from the tin.

Snow White’s Applesauce


4 apples - peeled, cored and chopped
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


In a saucepan, combine apples, water, and cinnamon. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are soft. Allow to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Preparing for Lent

Today, just as I was sitting down to finish writing about our plans for Lent, I read this article from Like Mother, Like Daughter. It is so well stated! I've read it several times, and I think I will print it for my seasonal file as a yearly reminder!

Instead of setting out to teach your children about Lent, just try living Lent.

I didn't have a wild plan in place for Lent, but every year it is very tempting to add more, to "do Lent." This year I'm giving us permission to live the season.

Reading the Bible. Attending Church. Praying the Stations of the Cross. Offering small sacrifices to each other. Growing in virtue. Growing in love.

Okay, yes, we're still doing a few things. I'm giving up my Amazon habit and donating my homeschool allowance instead. We're not having our Friday night pizza and ice cream. The boys are following a Lenten calendar. The boys are making offering boxes tomorrow to take to Mass each week and we are burying the Alleluia. We have a simple almsgiving project planned.

It was tempting to add more, but the children are very young. There are many years to do more substantial projects and more opportunities for giving to the poor. This year, we're going to live the liturgical year and walk with Jesus during these 40 days.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Back to Co-op!

After a hiatus of a few months due to the birth of the baby and our move, we were back at our homeschool co-op Friday. The group is made up of around 60 families and offers a variety of classes from preschool to high school. We love it! This session, I am teaching "Book Cooks," a cooking class that draws inspiration and recipes from favorite books. Big Brother is also taking chorus and and arts and crafts class. During this session, I'm planning to share the plans and recipes from my class for your enjoyment and inspiration as well. (The picture shows everything I had to bring with me! The kitchen is fairly well stocked for equipment, but I still needed a hand mixer, blender, two saucepans, containers for the kids to take food home, not to mention all the food!)

Since March 2 is Dr. Suess's birthday, this week was of course devoted to Seuss! I wanted to do something different than the standard green eggs and ham and since Fox in Socks is the current favorite in our house, I looked there for inspiration. What did I find?


It took me a bit of time to figure out how to translate blue goo to my class, but I settled on goo you can eat and goo you can play with.

Blue Goo (to Eat)

4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold blueberry juice
3 cups blueberry juice, heated to boiling

1. Sprinkle gelatin over cold juice in a large bowl; let stand one minute.
2. Add hot juice and stir until gelatin completely dissolves.
3. Pour into 9 x 13 pan or individual serving cups.
4. Once the juice feels cool to the touch, add the blueberries.
5. Refrigerate until firm, about three hours.
6. Enjoy with whipped cream or plain!

Blue Goo (to Play)

2 cups cold water
1 packet of blue drink mix (such as Kool-Aid)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
4 teaspoons cream of tartar

1. Mix together the water, the drink mix, and the vegetable oil.
2. In a sauce pan, mix together the flour, salt, and cream of tartar.
3. Slowly add the liquid to the sauce pan and stir.
4. Cook the mixture over medium heat until it looks like mashed potatoes. Remove from heat and cool.
5. When the dough is cool, knead it until it’s smooth. This will last a long time if you store it in a covered container.
Noodles from the tweetle beetle battle may have been easier, but this was much more fun!

I also adapted a recipe from Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook for Cat in the Hat Comes Back tub cakes. Enjoy!

Our Little Carpenters

My boys spent several hours this week removing and reattaching the stove knobs from their play kitchen (while listening to The Mouse and the Motorcycle over and over). Deconstruction and reconstruction isn't unusual at our house, but I was startled that our 2 1/2 year old was skilled as his older brother. When did that happen?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lamentations of the Father

A friend of mine shared this article from The Atlantic, and it gave me quite a laugh!

My favorite:
Do not scream; for it is as if you scream all the time.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Creative Cousins

Now that we have moved to our new house and are much closer to family, my sister and I have decided to start a bi-monthly craft/project time with our kiddos. Her daughter is two, and when the cousins get together it is sure to be a fun (and crazy!) time.

On Sunday, we had our first session and decided to try a project from Art for the Very Young. I love this book; it has so many creative ideas for art with young children. The project we chose was a "mono-print collage" in the style of Monet. We each had a copy of A Picnic with Monet
to share with the artists and my sister brought our old copy of Linnea in Monet's Gardenas well.

The project took a bit of time to set up. We had to cut lily pads from tissue paper and mix small amounts of tempera paint with water and honey, all the while trying to keep the kids from sampling the honey (mine), spilling the water (hers), and grabbing paint brushes (everyone).

Finally, everyone was smocked and ready to go!

The first step was to paint the back of cookie sheets with the paints.

Then they gently smoothed a piece of construction paper over the paint, flipped it over, and pressed several lily pads onto their ponds.

The kids enjoyed the project, but we were astonished to see how well the project captured the spirit of Monet's work.

My oldest's had the colors down exactly, which made us laugh since we had been encouraging him to use more paint to more thoroughly cover his cookie sheet. In the end, though, his method worked perfectly and we dubbed him the day's artistic genius!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New House Tour: Downstairs, Part 1

(Disclaimer: the window treatments came with the house, and I haven't had the energy to tackle that headache yet!)

The view from the front entry... Stairs to the right, living room to the left, kitchen straight ahead.

The living room... Dining room is through the doorway on the back right.

View from the playroom looking into the kitchen and through to the dining room. The white door to the left of the tall cupboards is the powder room. The two doors on the left are the garage and basement.

The playroom is constantly in use (of course), so it's hard to get a shot that doesn't look like a tornado just came through. I'll get there! Our hutch finally arrived yesterday for the dining room, so once I finish unpacking in there, the tour will continue.