Saturday, March 26, 2011

What Are We Reading?

The Little One's second birthday is coming up, and as he gets older, he is able to understand and get excited about more and more complex stories.  I was delighted to find a basically new copy of Llama Llama, Red Pajama  while I was out thrifting the other day and even happier that it is now one of Noah's favorite books.  

Noah love the rhyme scheme and the funny voices that I make- and I personally love that it is a book that talks about the young central figure feeling nervous after going to bed and wondering, "What if Mama Llama's...GONE?"  And the mom's response that, "Mama Llama's always near, even when she's not right here." 

I'm hoping that eventually this will sink in to Noah's brain and help ease the tears that seem to happen every night when he wakes up (which is pretty much every night.)  I can't hope that I'll be just as lucky when I am looking for the others in the series, but I am so glad that I found out that this book has actually been worth the hype.

Noah's "Mama Llama" is doing some exciting reading as well.  With the surprising success of last year's garden, we are hoping to expand even further this year and hopefully produce enough to sell and donate some of our excess, and to preserve a lot of the rest so that we can eat off of what we have grown periodically during the winter months. 

At a recent trip to the library I picked up, Guide to Minnesota Vegetable Gardening, and also  a couple books on preserving what we grow. 

I'm really want to learn more about preserving without canning.  I think I am intimidated by the idea of boiling everything and canning, especially with Noah underfoot, and I also know that a lot of the nutrients are boiled away.  We are planning on getting a deep freeze, but one accidental nudge of the power cord or outage and there goes everything. 

So, we are hoping to rely on our dehydrator, Jim's smoker (well, that is more for fish and meat) as well as our WONDERFUL vacuum sealer we got for Christmas.  We felt like we learned a lot last year, and yet this year again I am feeling like I have so much to learn.  I'm hoping to learn from others that are more experienced with this aspect of gardening (hint, hint) so please, send me all the info., advice and input you can.  I need it!
Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Noah's Day

If you know me at all- you know I like to blog and to create in general.  You also probably know that I am a proud Mommie of my Noah and think that he is the coolest little guy I've ver met, and for good reason.  However, I also know that not all of you want to read about every little thing he does, and every little project I do with him-- many of you are not parents out there or educators. 

So, to prevent you from gritting your teeth every time you see a new post from me thinking that you are about to be force-fed another description of how I introduced the color yellow to Noah and how he got it right away, I have made a new blog just for that very purpose.  You'll still see some brags about the Little Man here- you didn't think I was going cold turkey did you?  But the more instructional, project oriented posts are going to be over there.

In part, the blog is to brag about my little man, and in part it is to hold me accountable for doing more than simply turning on the TV, since he would really like it if I would let him watch nothing but Busy Town Mysteries all day long.  It is important to me that he develop a love of learning and be ready for school when the time comes, and we are working as a family to lay the foundations of this early on.

It is still mostly in the works, but I am excited about good things to come from it.  And now you can sigh in relief that you don't have to read about how I made Noah a makeshift rice table. 
Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Minnesota Music~

What are we listening to around here?

Dreamland-- this dreamy CD of favorite songs for little one's was put together and sung by a co-worker of Jim's  ex-sister-in-law.  Or something like that.  Whatever the relationship, this music is a favorite of mine and Jim's to play for our little man, and isn't pandering to children with too cheesy tunes.  Instead it offers semi-contemporary choices like "The House at Pooh Corner," "Baby Mine," "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes," and "Rainbow Connection.  Created during the time Tristiana Ward, the singer, waited for the birth of her own son, you can feel the emotion involved in each song, which is what plays so well for us.

MacPhail's Sing Play Learn.

Sing, Play, Learn with MacPhail--  full of cheesy tunes and lyrics that get us up on our feet and dancing with Noah, we love this free CD from the MacPhail Center for Music's programs.  It is free when you attend one of their informational events in a local library.  And while we will probably never dole out the cash to have Noah take one of the classes, it is nice to have the music at home to enjoy.  My only criticism of this CD is that it is pretty apparent it has been made by some really white Norwegians in a few of the songs as they try to sing diverse songs.  However, the silliness is still good for a dance or two to use up some of that pent up winter energy.

~Recipes~ Peppery Chicken Soup


I love making soup.  I don't really know why, but it has always been one of the things that I like the make most of all.  Noah has inherited my love of the stuff and says hopefully, "houp?" when he sees me making something on the stove and makes a stirring motion.  My kid will someday be a gourmet chef, of just make good stuff for his own little ones.  Recently I made a new winner, which I thought I would share. 

For this recipe we used leftover chicken breasts we had from a previous dinner, as well as leftover Velveeta cheese, which normally I don't like to use, but we had it on hand from pizza burgers-- a recipe my mom used to cook.  Yum!  All of my amounts are approximate, as I cook to taste, rather than by rote. 

2 Chicken Breasts
3 TB butter/Margarine
6 oz Velveeta
4 Pequillo peppers (these are sweet red peppers you can find in a jar at Costco and most grocery stores)
1 small bunch Spinach leaves
4 oz Kielbasa or other sausage
6 cups whole milk
Chili Powder
Lawry's Seasoning Salt
Onion Salt (or fresh onion)
1/4 cup white rice

Chop chicken breasts, peppers, sausage and spinach and set aside. 

Melt butter in a skillet.  Add flour to butter and cook for approximately 5 minutes, until the color of the butter reaches a rich golden brown. Add a bit of milk and whisk.  Slowly add the rest of the milk and reduce heat to a simmer.

Cube the Velveeta (I simply pinched off pieces and put it in the pan) and whisk regularly for a good melt.  Be sure to not heat the pan too hot and scald the milk or burn the bottom.  As the soup begins to thicken, add first the rice, then the chicken, sausage, peppers and spinach. *

Season to taste. Be careful while seasoning that you don't over-salt with the sausage as well as the spices. 

Serve with tortilla chips and a nice glass of white wine.

* The next time I think I will cook the spinach slightly and drain the excess water from the spinach, or use frozen instead of fresh.  The water in the spinach caused me some problems while cooking.
Friday, March 4, 2011

All I want for Christmas is to take Noah to Cross Country Ski (or something like that)

Sometimes out here in MN I joke that we live in a real life version of a Richard Scarry book- with travellers on bikes, Tall Bikes, unicycles, motorized bikes, recumbent bikes, walking through skyways, segways, Rollerblades, boats on the Mississippi, skateboards, trains, snowshoes, skis, cars, buses and the light rail- amidst a bunch of other modes of transportation that I am forgetting. 

I bet you didn't know that we are often ranked as the number 1 or number 2 cities for biking in the United States, did you?  You probably thought things like the frigid cold temperatures would keep people indoors, but really it just makes people modify their rides a bit, and certainly their clothing.

And that is precisely what I have been looking to do, with little success.  This winter I have been looking into ways to get Noah and I outside when even without the frigid temperatures the sheer depth of the snow would make playing really hard on the kid.  For some reason I am really attracted to the idea of getting back into cross country skiing, which I haven't done in years upon years. 

However, before I shell out the money on a nice set of used skis, I have to think about what am I going to do with Noah while we do this.  I can't wear him in a sling, I can't have him perched up near my shoulders in the baby backpack, and the stroller would just sink. 

So I decided to look into a way to convert our stroller to be a sort of bobsled or dogsled.  You can find commercial versions of this online, but the cheapest version runs about $250.  Ouch. 

I was happy to find a tutorial that shows how to make a homemade version, which can be welded to a stroller frame, and another from here in MN that doesn't require any damage to the wheels.  I'm not sure if we'll be able to get it done by this winter-- things are crazy busy right now and blessedly the long winter is coming to an end, but during the spring, thrift store skis are in abundance and we can be outside for longer working on projects without risking frostbite, so I'm adding one to the Honey-Do list.
Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wednesday = Fun Day

Around here, with my classes falling typically on a Tuesday, we have designated Wednesday as Mommie-Noah fun day, with no work being done by Mommie and lots of games being played and trips taken.  This week I asked him if he wanted to "Go?"  in the car or stay home, and he quietly said to me, "Home."

Here is a glimpse of our fun fay:

Noah was a bit sniffly, but in a good mood for most of the day.

Someone tried to call me about a work matter, but Noah fielded the call and told them I was busy in a meeting with Elmo. 

Then we did a fun activity that featured our letter of the month-- B for Bubbles! 

He did enjoy it more than this photo lets on, but his face here was really cute to me for some reason. Noah tries to blow the bubbles, but sometimes accidentally sucks up the soap through the straw rather than blowing, so Mommie is often in charge of making the bubbles and Noah the popping.  There is something still satisfying even as an adult in seeing how big of a pile of bubbles I can get going, especially with the challenge of Noah working against my efforts.

It also has the added benefit of helping him get clean after a snack or after painting.  And aren't these great smocks-- they are so cheap too that I don't feel bad spending the money on them, rather than using some of Jim's old shirts that he has worn through the elbows, or pulled all of the buttons from.

We also did another Letter B activity-- we did a lot of sorting and pouring out of our Box of Balls and Blocks into Buckets, one of which was Blue.

And of course, Books!

Look-- its a choo!

Noah loves to find the Da in his Richard Scarry book.  I loved this book as a child, and it is interesting to me how the stories that I loved aren't necessarily his favorite, but he still loves the book.

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