Monday, May 31, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday: Dips

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

We're linking up again with Muffin Tin Mom and sharing what we had for lunch today.
Click on one of the links above to see other families' muffin tin meals. If you're wondering why we eat out of muffin tins - well, they're perfect little compartments for kid size meals, it's easy clean-up, and it's about making lunch a little more fun for them.

We decided to have a "dip day." Here is Tornado's tin - what he used as his dippers (keeping in mind he is 9 so his 3 year old and 5 year old siblings had slightly smaller versions): red bell pepper strips, apple slices, celery and carrot sticks, toast strips, Tofurky sausages, cherry tomatoes, tater tots, broccoli, cauliflower, and multi-grain chips. (The other two had the same things except Dash didn't have tomatoes, and neither of them had bell peppers or celery.) They didn't quite finish everything so I just stuck their tins in the fridge for an afternoon snack.

And here are the dips. They were talking nonstop about what was what. "Now what is this one again?" Tornado suggested I should have labeled everything. He's always good for ideas.

Starting at the top left corner: ketchup, cashew butter dip, Cheezy Hemp Nacho Sauce, vegan ranch. Next row: walnut pate', vanilla yogurt with fruit spread drizzled on top (this was a favorite), peanut sauce (Tornado said it was too spicy; Daddy said it was delicious.), and guacamole.

Recipes: CASHEW BUTTER DIP - I just mixed cashew butter, applesauce, and agave nectar. I thought it was yummy. Tornado agreed, but for some reason, Dash and Sissy didn't want to try it. I'm just going to but the rest on a sandwich for them later.

CHEEZY HEMP NACHO SAUCE - Visit Kristen's Raw for the recipe. We make this a lot, and we love it!

WALNUT PATE' - HERE IS THE RECIPE I used. It's basically just blending walnuts with one teaspoon each of lemon juice, olive oil, and tamari plus spices. I'm going to start making this all of the time. The kids liked it, and I did, too!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dash's Last Day of School and No Ice Cream Milkshakes

Life has drastically changed around here the past week. (I'm not going to lie; I have had to be on my toes, planning activities, making sure to keep my little bundle of energy on task and out of's not easy. We're praying for peace about what to do for next year.) Dash had his last day of preschool. It was definitely bittersweet. I was looking forward to no more morning rush, but I was really sad, too.

I felt very teary-eyed all week. His little world as he knew it was about to drastically change. He had to say good-bye to the friends and the teachers he has come to LOVE. And I felt very attached to the little fellas, and the parents, and the teachers, too. We'll probably never see most of them again. I've got a lump in my throat right now, typing this! I have mentioned before that my heart was not fully in board for putting the kids in school this year, but I definitely don't regret Dash's year at all. It has been GREAT for him, and I can't say enough wonderful things about his school.

One of the coveted spots on the playground - getting to be the one who pushes the others on the tire swing...there was always someone waiting for their turn in that position.

Dash, with one of his best buddies
saying good-bye to one of his teachers

His other teacher...we just LOVED these two. They were wonderful teachers. They always seemed patient, and I never saw them in anything less than a happy, motivated, engaging, encouraging mood. I will put Sissy in their class when she gets old enough, if they are still there, and it works out.

I'll post graduation pictures this weekend. It was ADORABLE.

In other news:

One of our FAVORITE snacks these days: banana ice cream milkshakes. At all times, we have peeled, frozen banana pieces in the freezer. We throw them in the blender with a little milk (We use soy, almond, coconut, hemp, or rice milk.) and go from there. Just leave it like that, or our favorite is probably just cocoa powder (Or you can use chocolate syrup if you're going the decadent route...I can't really tell much of a difference, though.).
My weight-loss desiring self usually doesn't go for the ones with nut butter added, but the kids love them.
I think it's amazing how similar they are to real milkshakes. Just healthier (and much cheaper!). They don't necessarily taste overwhelmingly like bananas, either, after you add the chocolate.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

stART: Crictor (the snake)

stART is hosted by Michelle at A Mommy's Adventures...Visit her site for more literature-based activities.

My Mom and Dad bought this book for the kids while they were on vacation last week. Crictor is a Reading Rainbow book, written by Tomi Ungerer. The story takes place in France. Madame Bodot is given a boa constrictor, and she keeps it as a pet. She takes him everywhere she goes and even knits a sweater for him. At the end, he saves her from a burglar, and the town makes a statue in his honor.

When I told Sissy that we were going to read a snake book and do snake activities, she looked at me with "No, we are NOT" eyes and gave me a simple, "No." It wasn't so much a disrespectful "no" - more like a "You've got to be kidding me. Do you know me at all?" However, she did like the book and was quickly won over by making BEJEWELED snake BRACELETS.
I printed this pattern from Danielle's Place onto green cardstock. She decorated them with markers and glued on jewels. We taped the ends together.

Beyond the art project, we also...
made snakes with Play-doh. I introduced them to the ruler, and we measured our snakes because Crictor "grew longer and longer and stronger and stronger," and Madame Bodot measured him.

I like the simple illustrations.
They even put their snakes in their own beds.
Crictor goes to school and learns how to shape the alphabet on the previous pages, then learns how to count, too.
The kids tried making a few letter shapes of their own.
I printed off this snake shapes worksheet from Danielle's Place. The plan was to have Dash make the shapes from the pipe cleaners and have Sissy match them up. However, there was a little meltdown in the Dash department, and he was no longer involved. I made the pipe cleaner shapes (it's harder than it looks!), and Sissy matched them up while we said the names over and over.

Dash had gotten mad about something earlier, and he ended up ripping up his snake bracelets in anger. Then he was upset he didn't have a snake bracelet anymore, and he was crying because he wanted one. I told him it was too late. Hysterically, he was trying to pour out more glue to decorate a snake (which is in shreds). I put the glue up in a high cabinet so he couldn't reach it. This is what I caught him doing, trying to find a way to get up there.

I've got my work cut out for me.

More From the Spiralizer

RAW spiralized yellow squash lightly tossed in olive oil and Himalayan Salt with hemp seeds sprinkled on top

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Soccer to T-Ball

More Dash/soccer pics...We really enjoy watching the little guy play sports. I love and admire his energy and his interest. I just asked him for a quote; he said, "I like soccer because you get to kick it around and stuff and get it away from the other people."
I think soccer will be his favorite sport in the long run. He's got the perfect little soccer run. And he says that is what he likes the best, so far.
Soccer season has ended, and now it's t-ball.
smiling at Momma
It's obviously adorable watching little kids play a sport they don't entirely understand yet. Dash still sometimes starts to run toward 3rd base after he hits it, no matter how many times he has done it. He listens, though, and concentrates. I can tell he wants to learn how to do it right.
And then the game post-haircut...After his first practice, he ran off the field to us, and his first words were very matter-of-factly, "I liked that."
Ryan says he actually looks like a soccer player out there playing t-ball. I love being back amidst the atmosphere of a baseball game; I've missed it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday: Seeds, Plants & Flowers

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

This week's Muffin Tin theme was Seeds, Plants, & Flowers.
I'll start with the dirt dessert made from Dr. Oetker's chocolate pudding and ground up chocolate chips.
Before they ate, the kids ceremoniously planted pumpkin seeds into the "dirt." And the napkin flower isn't too impressive, but I tried!
Quinoa salad with grated carrots plus SPROUTED lentils (Can you see the little sprouts?). Little celery seedlings are also sprouting up.

More lentil/quinoa salad with avocado grass covering (but no avocado on Dash's). Strawberry, apple, and cucumber flowers. Dash also picked his cucumber flowers and "replanted" them in Tornado's garden.
Check out the other muffin tin meals at Michelle's Journal Corner!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tot School Week 2: Teddy Bears, Piggy Bank, and Treasure Box

Tot School

Sissy and I went to STORY-TIME at the library this week. We listened to a lot of charmingly-presented stories (by our amazingly creative story-time lady) about bears. She sent home little BEAR books for them to color and these little bear finger puppets for them to decorate.
We checked out a TEDDY BEAR book. This was a cute book that uses real teddy bears as the illustrations. And it is a very interactive, learning book, with questions that require the reader to count, think about adjectives and opposites such as top and bottom, and teaches them little bear facts.
Since my brain seems to only work thematically, I printed off this BEAR SIZE SEQUENCING activity from CHILDCARELAND. They match up the colors (which we discussed and are trying to nail down - she almost knows her colors, but she still gets some of them mixed up) of a small bear and a large bear. Then she also matched up the reverse colored bear pairs and set them on top of the others. We alternated picking up which bear was larger - then which bear was smaller.
I also printed off this Bear Shape/Color Matching Game from Childcareland. We're also working on learning shape names as she doesn't know all of them yet. She's left these games out on her table for a couple of days, and she plays with them on her own now. In fact, just a few minutes ago, I could hear her using them as paper dolls, making them talk. I could hear her saying something about "Papa Bear."
We did several BIRDS and NESTS activities this week for Muffin Tin Monday and stART. If you missed those, here is our NEST-THEMED muffin tin, and here are our NEST PROJECTS.

Tornado read The Best Nest to his brother and sister. His reading confidence has shot up a lot the past few weeks. He is so proud to be reading bigger, longer books. He comes into the kitchen while I'm cooking or cleaning, and he reads a book aloud to me.
My Aunt Patsy has sent the kids so many fabulous gifts in the mail for their birthdays. This Melissa & Doug porcelain piggy bank was one gift Sissy received for her 2nd birthday, and for some reason, we never got around to decorating it. She was thrilled when I got it out for her. Thank you, Great Aunt Patsy!
She worked so hard and for so long painting her pig, and when it dried, she decorated it with the stickers provided.
I bought this cardboard box at The Container Store for $3.99 and let the kids decorate it. This is going to be their TREASURE BOX. Previously, their "treasures" we use for special rewards were haphazardly spilling out of a plastic bag in the closet. We want to get more serious about the reward system for positive reinforcement. (We're still doing our CRAFT STICKS for t.v./computer time, also.) If they make it the whole day without arguing with Mom and Dad or going to time-out, etc., they get to pick out something from the TREASURE BOX. That doesn't mean their behavior has to be perfect. For example, they are fighting, and I ask them to stop and apologize to one another. If they say, "Yes, ma'am," and improve in that moment, it is stricken from the record. It's the talking back and refusing to stop bad behavior that is overwhelming us right now. (For the record, Tornado has been the only Treasure Box recipient this week.) We're working on it...
The kids worked on their box for a good 45 minutes. It was a good group activity. Sissy was enchanted by the container of jewels I presented to her. They used a Q-tip and glue squirted on a lid for the jewels. (I save margarine and Whole Foods to-go container lids for paint and glue, thanks to a tip from Annette.)

Inside the box: things from the dollar store like fun pens, markers, stickers, coloring books; books I've bought in bargain bins; organic fruit roll-ups; Matchbox cars; and felt food for Sissy's kitchen set.

Up next week: We're starting our Princess Unit tomorrow!

For more little tot ideas, visit 1 + 1 + 1= 1!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

stART: Nest Activities

This week for stART we did BIRDS and NESTS.

We read a nice, peaceful book, Robin's Home and then made nests. Jeannine Atkins has some other activities on her website like this one: I love to think and write in a sort of nest I make by piling up pillows. Do you have a place where you feel safe and happy? Draw or write about your favorite “nest.” And the book recommends simply just cutting short pieces of yarn and having your child hang in them in a tree.
We actually started out earlier this week by reading The Best Nest. Muffin Tin Mom's Linktheme this week was BIRDS and NESTS. HERE was our nest-themed muffin meal if you missed it.

I have mixed feelings about this book. It has good illustrations, and it has a cute ending with a nice "be content/you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" kind of theme. BUT it really bothers me how rude Mrs. Bird talks to her husband. She complains and makes him find her a new home. Although she realized she loved her original home after all, she never ends up apologizing at the end. This was a good discussion for us about how NOT to communicate with your family (or anyone). Maybe I'm taking it too seriously, and the kids only seemed to notice the cute little song the Mr. Bird sings, but I felt like I needed to point it out to them, anyway.

After we read Robin's Home, I had the kids recall all of the items the birds from both books used to make their nests. I sent them off to gather any of those items they could find. They returned with grass, mud (and even added some pine needles and leaves), yarn, stuffing, and even hair from my brush (A little gross - but they actually liked pulling it out of the brush, and it does make a nice nest.). They glued their nests together onto cardboard squares I cut from a cereal box, etc.

Dash found a little worm in the mud from his bucket.
They worked really hard on their nests, and they turned out great. The picture doesn't do them justice because you can't completely see the depth and sides.
We happened to have several leftover blue Easter eggs (a little large!) so they put them in their Robin's nests.
Dash happened to do a Bird Unit at Pre-K recently. They made these little bird nest helpers.
They just cut bits of string, ribbon, and fabric and tied it up in the kind of net that holds oranges, etc. in produce. Dash picked the tree where he wanted the ball to hang.
We had been saving some gluten-free bagels (that we didn't care for) in the freezer for just such a project. We usually do this every winter for the birds. They spread peanut butter on their bagels...

and rolled them around in birdseed.

They kept wanting to eat the peanut butter and lick their fingers, but I told them not to because it was cheap p.b. that had been in the fridge awhile just for the purpose of projects. After they finished, they were both suddenly starving for nut butter so I dished them out some of their sunflower seed butter, and they each had two little cups full.
For more stART projects, visit A Mommy's Adventures by clicking on the stART button at the top!