Thursday, September 17, 2009

Money, Budgets and Wrapping Paper

In Anders' folder in his backpack today his teacher sent home a packet with information on a fundraiser the school is going to be doing. I think it's to raise money for things that the budget doesn't cover--I didn't see any clear explanation in much of what I skimmed through. Our budget doesn't have room for $15 tubs of cookie dough right now. And if we could afford that, I think I'd rather just give money toward whatever project is needed, if it's something I'd support.

Pretty much anymore, the kids aren't really allowed to go out and sell things. It mostly falls in the parents lap. And if I were going to be selling things, well then, I guess we'd have a second income right now. Even if the kids were encouraged to go out and take ownership, I don't think a Kindergarten can really understand why and what they're doing.

So unless someone needs to renew a magazine subscription or is really interested in some Christmas wrapping paper or frozen garlic bread, we'll probably be sending the order form back blank. At least this year.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Recipe: Cheezies

This is a really simple recipe, but my kids usually enjoy it, and it's one they can be involved in making.

Take several slices of bread (as many as will be eaten). I prefer something other than sandwich bread: rye, Italian, artisan, whole wheat, etc. More than likely your kids will eat it, even if it's a bread they don't usually eat.

Cover each slice of bread with cheese. Sliced American is easy. But Swiss or cheddar are good. Go with whatever is on hand and will complement the bread well.

Take some toppings and create a work of art: black and green olive smiley faces, red and green bell pepper stripes, pepperoni polka dots, etc. Or just leave it with the cheese only.

Place in an oven/toaster and turn on the broiler. Watch carefully. It doesn't take long for these to be done (when the cheese is melted/browned to your desire).

An easy way to get some calcium & a little protein, as well as sneaking in a few veggies.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


The boys and I went to the St. Louis Park splash pad at Oak Hills Park this afternoon. It was the last day it's open this year, and the weather was nice enough for us to go and play for a while. These are great days. Fall is a wonderful season (though, we're technically not in it yet).

It also made me realize that it won't be long until we're relegated to being indoors most of the time. The boys and I enjoy being outside as much as possible--even in the winter. Fall will bring plenty of hikes and time in the park. Winter will bring sledding and playing in the snow.

Having a kids in Kindergarten in the mornings will change things as well. We have to be around when the bus arrives. So afternoons will be our main outing time. Thankfully there are the passes from the library; they really make things affordable to do.

Monday, September 7, 2009

To Motivate a Child

Some of my goals for the summer had been to help Anders learn to ride his bike without training wheels, to be able to do the monkey bars and to learn to swing by himself. He's kind of able to do the monkey bars when he's motivated, and he can pump on the swing when he doesn't get too focused because then he becomes frustrated. He won't let me help him on the bike if he's too scared to try, which is most of the time. I try to only use encouraging words and tell him that I believe in him. That doesn't seem to work. He's got to want to do it on his own, and apparently I can't motivate him to want that (well, maybe money or the promise of new Legos or Star Wars toys could work, but we're not going down the bribery road). So if you've got any pointers, I'd love to hear them. Until then, I'm working with my 2 1/2 year old. He wants to be able to do those things.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Recipe: Anders' Casserole

Here's the recipe that Anders asked for supper on his first day of school. My mom made it for me when I was young, and it's now the one that my boys almost always will eat. It's a pretty simple recipe, using stuff that's probably already in your home. It's easily modifiable. And leftovers are good.

Anders' Casserole (basic recipe)
1 lb. ground meat (hamburger or turkey)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup rice
1 can corn

Brown the meat in a saucepan. We typically use ground turkey for less fat, but hamburger is just as good. It can be browned with chopped onion, salt and pepper. I sometimes add Worcestershire sauce. Drain the fat.

Add the rice, soup and corn. Add one can of water. Heat on medium high until it starts boiling, then cover and reduce to low.

When the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, serve it up (about a half hour to 45 minutes).

Variations: You can use different veggies. I often grate carrots into it to add a little extra veggie content. Green beans work. Presumably so do mixed veggies. Different cream soups can also be used. Different types of rice as well.

Any sort of spices can be experimented with. I have tried various mixtures of garlic, turmeric, chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, sage, thyme, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.

Cheese can be added. I've even put in mayo as well as enchilada sauce. My boys often like it with soy sauce.

This can also be done in the oven on 350 for about an hour.

Sending Our First-born off to School

Today we sent our eldest son off to school for the first time. He was ready. He didn't even balk when the bus pulled up--he just climbed right on board. No tears or fears. Not even from mom & dad (my wife happened to be working the closing shift today so she was here when he left and come home from school). A few from the little brother, but that was because he wanted to be going on the bus, too. He knows he'll be getting some schooling at home this year: we call it Pappa's School of Hard Knocks. He headed out with big brother this morning wearing his own backpack. But he was disappointed to find out that he didn't get to ride a bus to his school today and that his school was just the old desk in the corner of his bedroom. But he did get a field trip--to the grocery store.

Everyone had been asking us how we'll handle sending our first-born off to school. It really wasn't too big of a deal (though it may have been if we had given ourselves time to reflect on it this morning--especially about how time is flying by so quickly). I think this transition is going to be hardest on the little borther, not having his big brother around in the mornings. At least for a while. I think it's also going to make my job harder only having the 2 1/2 year old around now, since he'll be more in demand of my attention. He was talking nonstop the whole time in the car this morning as we were going to get groceries and run errands.

Our oldest is ready for school, though. I know some people understandably have a hard time sending their kids off to school. Some don't even do it, opting to home school, simply because they're afraid of their kids getting tainted. And that is a concern of ours--the things he will pick up from the older kids on the bus (thankfully it's only K-3rd grade). But that's why we're making having one stay-at-home parent a priority for our kids. We want to make sure they are brought up with the morals we want them to have. We want them to learn from us first and foremost. We want them to know that we're investing in them.

Our pastor Efrem Smith pointed out last Sunday, if we're investing in our children as parents and being good stewards with them, we have nothing to fear. Efrem said, "Why does peer pressure always have to be negative--that we're afraid of what the world is going to do to our kids? No. The world needs to be afraid of what our kids are going to do to them. That's positive peer pressure."

So maybe that's one of the best reasons to do this stay-at-home dad thing: I get to train my children up in the way they should go so that I don't have to worry about them when they're off on their own. There are still plenty of lessons to learn, but he'll do fine. He'll succeed. And he'll have us there to cheer him on the whole way.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

School's Coming

Today I took my 5-year old to school to meet his teacher and see his classroom. Information was given both ways and school supplies were taken. It was all for getting ready for Kindergarten, which starts in two days. He told his teacher that he's "half excited, half nervous." We're probably all in the same boat as far as that goes. Even his little brother, as you can see in the picture, is a bit excited. But I know he'll have some adjustment as he finds himself home alone in the mornings with just me and no brother around with whom to play. Anyway, changes are in store for our family this week.