Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Growing Vegetable Soup

Ever since I read Lois Ehlert's book Growing Vegetable Soup to the boys about a year ago, I've wanted to make this recipe with them. Yesterday I finally got around to doing it. The boys helped me gather the ingredients (not from our garden, but from farmers market), wash them, cut them, and cook them. I even made homemade bread to go with the soup, because I think (and I know Mark agrees) that the only thing better than homemade soup is homemade crusty bread to go with it. It was a lot of fun making dinner with the boys and being able to focus on them more than the dinner, since this was an activity aimed at them. Often, I'm so focused on getting dinner ready that I don't have much patience for their "help".  


I love the faces these boys made when trying so hard to cut their veggies...

...and then we cooked them into vegetable soup!

Unfortunately, the boys did not think it was "the best soup ever". In fact, they barely ate two bites before asking ever so politely, "May I be excused, please?" Oh well. More for me. My hope is that they enjoyed the experience of making the soup together, even if they didn't enjoy the soup itself. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

This Kid..

...is cheesy!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Last Days of Summer

We're enjoying our traditional September heat wave, and soaking up the last days of summer, quite literally. Tommy isn't pictured because we refused to get in the water. He missed out on a lot of fun!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Autumn!

I didn't realize it when I set out to do this project, but today is the first day of Autumn! We (unknowingly) celebrated by making caramel apples, which was a lot easier than I expected. It's amazing how many treats we look forward to buying at speciality shops or fairs that are simple (and usually better) when made ourselves.

We cooked and cooled the caramel, dipped the apples, and then twisted them in sprinkles. I had some caramel leftover, so we dipped pretzels in it. Then we still had about three cups of caramel leftover, so I saved it in a jar to be used later on delicious treats like apple pie or ice cream. 

Let the fall yumminess commence!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Quotable Kids

I wish I could record much of what the kids say all day, because they are a riot. This is only a tiny sampling of the things they say, which I happen to remember to write down when I have a chance. There is also a good number of quotes which I daren't repeat because they consist largely of talk about potty issues and body parts. Lovely, huh? Then there are the conversations about heaven and hell, which are way too complicated (and confusing) to record. Suffice it to say that the boys are at a fun age where talking to them is an adventure.

Kid Quotes:
From Tommy:
"Mommy, I pushed Benji. But then I said I was sorry and gave him his blankie. So it's okay." 
Tommy: "Mommy, I want to go all the way down the trail." 
Me: "We need to turn around now.  (Jokingly) we can go further once we condition Benji's muscles." 
Tommy: "But I really want to go more." 
Benji: "No, Tommy, I need my muffles!"
Me: "Tommy, look at that big dragonfly!"
Tommy: (looking thoughtful for a few moments) "Do dragonflies roar at you?"
(While reading Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 which has the line, "These apples taste like heaven!"
Tommy: "That's silly! Heaven is in the sky! We can't eat heaven!"
Tommy: "Mommy, I don't want to go to the kind of school where you drop me off and leave me alone. I want to school with you at home."

Things I never thought I'd say:
"Tommy, please don't hang that dolly on the banana holder."
"Ben, your elbow does not belong in your cup."
"Tommy, please do not stab your eye with that fork."
"Benji, honey, please don't lick the car."
"Tommy, please don't put your mouth on ______ [the floor, your brother's face, the dog, the sink.....]

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Feeling Crafty

Since the our move four months ago and all of the upheaval of schedules that ensues with that process, I've been slacking off in the craft department. Well, I made up for it this week. It's probably because I've been stuck at home with a runny-nosed child for the past five days that has put me in the mood to break out the tempura paints (and the very non-washable acrylic paints). It's been interesting to see the great care that Tommy puts into his painting these days - I remember just six months ago when he put little care into painting or coloring. Benji is mostly interested in mixing colors to achieve Brown. This week we painted the letter B (to make up for missing our preschool co-op) and learned about mixing blue and yellow to make green. We also painted rocks, which was the boys' idea.

Notice the tongues sticking out in these last two photos. ;-)

Monday, September 13, 2010

How Does My Garden Grow?

In the two weeks before we left for our San Diego vacation, Mark and I did a full-court press to get our garden built and planted. Nothing gets us motivated like a hard deadline. We had to demolish our mystery deck - a freestanding deck that stood out like a sore thumb in the back of our yard for which we could think of no use or purpose - and clean up all the trash underneath it. In its place we built four raised garden boxes, one deep one for root vegetables and three one-foot deep boxes. We filled them up with soil and planted our seeds just three days before our vacation. When we came back home a week later, we had rows of sprouts!

Deck almost completely demolished

Helping sow seeds

This one wasn't much help with sowing, but he did love to play in the dirt


Spinach (or broccoli? I can't remember) in the foreground and chard in the background.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Making our House Kid-Friendly

My kids are getting to an awesome age when their ability to do things is catching up with their whining of "I do all mine self!" desire to do things independently. After reading a few books about the Montessori method of learning, I was inspired to make our home accessible to the boys so they can take care of their most basic needs. And, let's face it, so we wouldn't have to do things for them that they are perfectly capable of doing for themselves. Makes our job (and day) so much easier! 
Here are some examples:

Craft supplies are organized in this bin which is at their eye-level and that they can pull out whenever they want. One bin contains markers, crayons, colored pencils, and writing pencils, another blank paper, another coloring books, and yet another Tommy's beloved Kumon books. The bins with the green stickers are ones the kids know they can take out whenever they want without asking. There are some bins with red stickers (not pictured, but which contain things like Play-Doh or paints or glue sticks) that they know they need to ask first before taking out. I really like that they have the ability to decide when they'd like to draw or color and they are able to get the supplies out for themselves.

Sweatshirts on a low shelf in our hallway closet. Now no kid can complain that he's cold because now he can get himself his own sweatshirt!
Kid-sized cups and bowls in a low drawer. Whenever I hear a kid say he's thirsty I direct him to the drawer to get his own cup and fill it up at our fridge's water dispenser. Even my little guy is now tall enough to reach the tap!

Towels in an accessible drawer so spills can be cleaned up by the spill-er, instead of Mommy. I can't remember the last time I cleaned up a kid spill, although I do have my own share of spills (which include an egg splattered all over the floor last week...ick). 

Clothes drawers at kid eye level. Tommy is able to completely dress himself, so he often picks out his own clothes from the drawers and puts them on. This comes in handy at times when he gets his clothes wet during play (he hates being wet)...instead of me having to undress/dress him in dry clothes, I just tell him to go get new clothes and dress himself. He often comes out with backwards shorts and an inside out shirt, but that's okay.  I dream that someday they'll also be able to put their folded clothes away in their drawers. We dream big around here.

Eventually I would like to have a low shelf in the refrigerator dedicated to snacks the kids can grab whenever they whine about announce their hunger. But for now, the basket of apples on the kitchen counter is working just fine.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Chariot for a Frog

I saw this little guy sitting on the windowsill by the boys' table yesterday and it make me smile. I'm pretty sure images like this are one of the things I'll miss when the kids are grown up and I don't have toys littering every corner of my house anymore.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Family Vacation

We got home late Friday night from our first long family vacation. It was a blast! Last Sunday we drove Mark's parents' RV down to the San Diego area to visit some beaches, LegoLand and the San Diego Zoo. We had a lot to learn about traveling in and living in an RV. Although I can't say our vacation was relaxing, we all had a great time and got to experience lots of amazing things together. We're looking forward to doing more trips in the RV and having more family adventures together. 

We tried to make the vacation time special by doing things we don't normally do, like letting the kids watch lots of shows and eating sweets throughout the day.

This was taken right before Ben mortally wounded Tommy's Tag Reader - up until it broke, it was the activity of choice while they were stuck in their seats during the 9-hr long drive.


Pier at Pismo Beach - the boys had enjoyed looking down through the cracks of the boards at the water sloshing below us

More vacation treats - popcorn before bed!

Pancake and egg breakfast before the day starts - one of the benefits of driving around with a kitchen in the back of your vehicle.

Tommy's favorite thing to do at LegoLand was to drive these tiny Lego Volvos around - he was a pretty good driver, too.

"Look, Mommy, I'm picking Bob's nose!"

A favorite (and only) souvenir from the zoo - giraffe puppet that collapses when you push the button under it's base (for the life of me, I can't find a name for this toy). This little guy was named "Bambi" by Ben, Tommy's version is "Frederick".

There was a little bit of this - not as much as we would have liked, though. We were guaranteed at least one hour of pure and blessed silence during the each drive when the kids would pass out.