Monthly Archives: November 2011

Sparrow is 4 months old

We’re late. This was supposed to be done on the 25th, but Disneyland and travel and Thanksgiving happened. We just love this sweet little guy. Still has some of his newbornishness. Two teeth poking through on the bottom. Teething has been pretty rough. Eyes are still grey-blue for now. Long and lean instead of short and squat like his siblings. Most of his 3-6 month clothes fit him everywhere except his long legs. Has his papa’s big ears. We get a mix of comments of who he looks like from Stephen’s dad, to me, to Stephen, to Ethan. Is not a big laugher like his big brother, it takes a lot of work even to get a little giggle out of him. Loves to watch his siblings.

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Dishes with a touch of sarcasm

How did I ever get the dishes done before Bean graced me with her superior managerial skills?


“This one next, Mama. You have to wash the inside too. There is still some food right there. Scrub it please. Rinse it. You have to put it in the rack. Right there. It goes on top. Now wash this spoon please…”

As one person from our new church community group (that has only met Bean briefly three times) put it last night, “She’s the boss.”

Stephen sometimes jokes that we may have the next Hilary Clinton on our hands.

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Kiss my fist bump

I give Bean a kiss on the cheek which prompts requests for more kisses from the kids.

Bean: Kiss on my other cheek.
Sprout: Kiss on cheek
Bean: Kiss on my nose
Sprout: Kiss on nose
Bean: Kiss on the mouth
Sprout: Kiss on mouth
Bean: Kiss on my head
Sprout: Kiss head!
Bean: Kiss on my finger
Sprout: Kiss fist bump!


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Rigatoni with butternut squash, bacon and caramelized onions

During a recent nap time, I went through all my cookbooks, found all my favorite recipes and those I had not yet tried that sounded good based on their ingredients or the picture. And what did I do with all these recipes? I made a giant, five page alphabetical Word document index. It’s organized like this:

Recipe title (main ingredients), Publication Title page number.

Yes, I am that crazy, anal retentive, type A, overly organized, and all the other adjectives I am sure you can have fun coming up with for me.

I am so happy I did this because I found lots of new recipes and having the main ingredient list next to each recipe allows me to find them based on what is in season.

So this recipe is based on one I found in a book I have had for years that went largely ignored.

Rigatoni with butternut squash, bacon and caramelized onions
Adapted from “Rigatoni with Squash and Caramelized Onions” in Food & Wine Best of the Best Vol. 9 which is a compilation of recipe books and this one is originally from Recipes by Susan Spungen, the founding food editor of Martha Stewart Living

-1/2 lb rigatoni
-1 butternut squash
-2 garlic cloves, pressed
-1 tbsp butter
-1 onion, halved and sliced
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1 sprig rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
-dash or two pumpkin pie spice
-2 thick slices bacon, chopped
-1 cup stock (I used vegetable)
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
-salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Cook pasta in salted water two minutes less than recommended time on package (it will continue to cook in the oven).

While the pasta is cooking, peel, chop and remove the seeds from your butternut squash.

Brown the bacon. Remove from pan and drain. Set aside. Add the garlic, onions and butter to the pan and brown. Add 1/4 cup water and cook 5 more minutes.

Remove the onions from the pan and set aside.

Add the oil, squash, half the rosemary, salt, and pepper and sauté until tender when pierced with a knife. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Simmer around 8-10 minutes. Add cream, bring to a boil and simmer one minute more. Remove from heat.

Combine with bacon, pasta and all remaining ingredients thoroughly, reserving 1/2 cup cheese. Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake 30-35 min until the top is golden brown and the sauce is bubbly.


Serve with a salad of mixed greens, apple, pomegranate, green onions and sunflower seeds dressed with olive oil, salt and vinegar. You may also want a bit of warm bread at the end to sop up the sauce.

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Ship making

Today was all about the Mayflower. We talked about how the Pilgrims had to rely on the wind to push their ship all away across the ocean to America.

We made a couple egg carton ships. I saw the idea on this blog which I think I probably got to from Pinterest.


As I was telling the kids about the sailing and the wind, I figured out that these little boats will actually “sail” if you blow on them just right. The kids had fun blowing them across the table after that.


They also had fun filling them with various pretend people.




Then we also made some Mayflower handprint paintings.



First I did a wash of light blue acrylic on some watercolor paper. After that dried I let the kids do the ocean with their blue and green water colors. Then we used brown acrylic to do the handprints. I glued the sails on after they dried.

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Little Pilgrims

We are studying the first Thanksgiving (the pretty and glorified version anyway) this week and into next.

Most of the Thanksgiving books were checked out from the library and I had to go yesterday with all three kids. So I got a lesson in previewing books…

A quick glance at this book, which was in the Thanksgiving section of the holiday books shelf, led me to believe this book was about the Mayflower crossing. Nope! I started reading it aloud to the kids after we got home and quickly realized that it is likely about Cubans fleeing to America on a fishing boat. While they do arrive on Thanksgiving, it wasn’t exactly the topic I wanted to be broaching with my three and almost-two-year-old.

But we did find a couple good ones that are perfect for this week.


This First Thanksgiving Day: A Counting Story by Laura Krauss Melmed and The Very First Thanksgiving Day by Rhonda Gowler Greene.

Today we followed these Martha Stewart tutorials for a paper pilgrim hat and paper pilgrim bonnet.




This picture cracks me up! Check out Sprout’s “smolder” (you’d have to have seen Tangled to get it).


And then we also made a paper plate pilgrim girl and boy using this tutorial.



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Sickness got the better of us, but we still managed to get some more projects done.

Despite my somewhat diligent efforts to keep the germ factories (aka Bean & Sprout) away from the baby, every chance I turned around they were touching him and coughing in his face. So the inevitable happened and he got sick too.

His sickness somewhat overlapped with Sprout’s so Stephen wound up staying home to help out.

It was so sad. Sparrow could barely breathe or cough. And even the doctor said there was pretty much nothing that could be done for an infant with croup besides breastfeeding, humidifier, cold night air, lots of love and very little sleep for us.


I was so stressed out and extremely exhausted the last couple days.

Then yesterday things started looking up. Sparrow finally started getting some cough-interruption-free sleep.


And he started smiling again.


And he stopped wheezing. It was a huge relief. The other two still have a nagging cough, but Sparrow seems much, much better. Breast milk antibodies for the win!

Here are a couple more pumpkin crafts we managed to get done that made good occupiers for the older two while we took turns taking care of Sparrow.


Felt, yarn & pompom pumpkin patch. The kids glued the pompoms on the brown felt “dirt” and I added all the details. Then we used it to talk more about the pumpkin life cycle.

This next activity got us transitioning to Thanksgiving which we will talk about next week.



The kids painted orange inside of an orange circle that I painted for them. We let those dry and then I used green paint to make handprint leaves. After they dried we talked about some of the things they are thankful for.

Sprout is thankful for the trash truck (watching the trash truck come is one of the big highlights of his week on Friday mornings, he gets so excited), toys, clothes, food, books, painting, Bean & Sparrow, sticks, Mama & Papa, cars and the step stool.

Bean is thankful for music, toys, cars, movies, flowers, Mama & Papa, her bed, sparkley shoes, good food, dresses, Sparrow & Sprout.

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Pumpkin pie & pumpkin math

Today the kids persisted in being sick and yet energetic.

This morning we made pumpkin pie scented paintings. Part of this idea I borrowed from this project and part of it I thought up on my own.

So first we started with yellow and brown construction paper. I traced one of my salad plates with a pencil on both colors. I cut the brown circle out perfectly round and the yellow circle I cut outside the line and wavy. Then we used a glue stick to attach them together. Whenever we do gluing, I use it as an opportunity to reinforce the concept of counting. I totally remember my preschool and kindergarten teachers doing the same thing. I say, “Press down here and let’s count to five together,” or something like that.


Next we mixed up our pie scented paint.


It is a mixture of white glue, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract, water, and orange and brown paint. I talked about each ingredient with the kids and let them smell the spices. Then I let Bean mix it up with her brush and they painted their pies.




I know they aren’t much to look at, but the kids had fun and they smell nice.

Next we did a little pumpkin math activity that I found in this free pumpkin printable. The kit had a pattern for a paper die and a chart to graph the number of instances for each face of the die.



Sprout can count and match, actually a little better than his sister, but this activity was still a bit over his head. Having him be our thrower, though, was a great way to include him in the activity.


Bean was our grapher and dutifully colored each square as we charted and rolled.


This all happened before we made our one necessary trip out of the house to Target for vitamins, juice, and wipes (and of course wound up walking out of the store with more than those things) and our weekly veggie pickup. Then naps got ruined by the car ride, lunch was delayed a couple hours and the whole day went downhill from there including Sprout figuring out how to climb out of the crib.

Sprout was a crying, clinging, snot faced, coughing, sad, pathetic mess, by the end of the day, but I did manage to distract him for a few minutes by letting him help me make a real pumpkin pie. He was super proud of cracking the eggs in particular, so much so that he ran to Stephen when he got home and shouted, “Papa! I cracked egg!” instead of his usual, “Papa’s home!”


But it’s generally known that when it comes to baking, I’m terrible at it. I used to think it was because of my limited ingredients due to the kids’ food allergies, but I don’t have that excuse anymore. This pie was way too spicy and it didn’t really set up so it was goopy. So there you have it, I’m not good at something. Not perfect.

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That’s how a pumpkin grows

This week we are learning about pumpkins. We’re a little late since every book, song, resource, etc seems to tie pumpkins to Halloween and Jack-O-Lanterns. Weird when, to me, the most important thing about pumpkins is pie!

Anyway here are some of the resources I found to help us in our learning this week. Sorry homeschooling is taking over the blog right now, but it’s funny that when we actually DO something I feel like I have stuff to blog about.

This is a really cute animation and song about pumpkins.

Yesterday I made a trip to our library and found some pretty good books about pumpkins. These are some of my favorites:

Pumpkin Fiesta by Caryn Yacowitz
I liked this book because it deals with the pumpkin life cycle, introduces a little Spanish and another culture and it has nothing to do with Halloween.

Patty’s Pumpkin Patch by Teri Sloan
I like this one because it integrates the alphabet into the story, the illustrations are beautiful and while it mentions Halloween and Jack-O-Lanterns, it takes the pumpkin concept past that holiday to harvesting seeds for next year’s crop, etc.

Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell
This one is short and cute, perfect for Sprout’s attention span. It also talks about Halloween, but deals with apples and pumpkins generally too as a part of Autumn.

Today we colored a page with “p is for pumpkin” and circled the Ps we saw on the page. Then we made this pumpkin life cycle craft.







*Edited to add: Today I discovered something else I like about homeschooling. While you may not be able to tell from the pictures, both kids are sick. They’ve got croup. Mostly it is just making sleep interesting around here. During the day they have plenty of energy and craziness. Bean is likely going to be missing all of her regularly scheduled classes because of it. What I discovered today is that even though we’re sickies and basically quarantined for the week, we can still learn, have fun, create, get out our energy and have a plan for the day. I’m not going crazy because they are not going crazy with boredom. Of course if it was truly debilitating sickness, we’d stop, but for the most part I’ve found my kids handle sickness well unless they’re really, really sick. Our main reason for quarantine is for the benefit of everyone else and not sharing our germs. So even though we stayed home sick our day was pretty jam packed.

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Hand and finger print trees

This was another idea I saw on Pinterest.



We used tempera paint to do the handprint trunk of the tree, green watercolor paint for the grass and stamp pads for the finger print leaves.

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