Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Carving Time

Our neighbor gave us some extra pumpkins for the boys this week. We decided instead of carving them to try something different. I grabbed a screwdriver and made a few strategic holes in the pumpkins. Then we brought out our tub of Mr. Potato Head parts. The fun part is that the can keep playing with them. They often end up with parts in odd places, but they enjoy it.

And if you're not roasting the pumpkin seeds afterward for a great snack, you're really missing out.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

And A Pile to Jump In

It's amazing how many hours of entertainment can be provided by a rake (and an autumnal tree).

Friday, October 16, 2009


Last night in our bedtime routine, Anders read the first 18 pages of Go Do, Go! I don't think they're at that point in Kindergarten yet of reading books, but he's able to do 3-letter words very well. We practice in the bathtub (they have foam letters that stick to the side); he requests it most times.

Having an English education major for my undergraduate degree, reading is important to me, of course. We read to the boys at the beginning of their rest time and before they go to bed at night. So they're learning their alphabet and reading skills a little early. Other things have been a priority, too (like bike riding and manners), but they don't seem to pick up on those as quickly. I guess they'll come. Parenthood has been a good lesson in building patience. Development is never on my terms.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Educational TV

Nils (my almost 3-year old) is watching SuperWhy on PBS as I type (I occasionally let him watch a couple PBS shows). He's identifying the letters before they're said on the show and even connecting what letters make what sounds. We've been working on that for a while, and it's good to see that he's getting it. I think some of the shows on PBS have helped--not that I advocate for letting kids watch TV all the time, but limited usage of the right shows do have an impact. Of course, without parental involvement it doesn't come together as well. Now that our 5-year old is off at Kindergarten, I don't get to see the fruits of my work with him as readily, so it's nice to see it coming along with Nils. At it's a good reminder to keep doing the work (and give him those moments to watch PBS kids once in a while--hey, if nothing else, its a half hour to get some cleaning done).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

5-Minute Bread

There are several recipes (all about the same out there) for 5-minute bread. It's an easy recipe that you make up the dough, refrigerate it and then pull of a chunk to bake when you need it. The dough doesn't require any kneading, so it really is a simple recipe. Quick and easy and nothing beats the taste of fresh, homemade bread.

Cheesy Chili Lentils

So we're trying to eat healthfully while on a budget. It's not usually easy to make meals that fall in those categories while being something the boys will eat. I came up with this recipe on a whim the other day. It turned out pretty well. My wife wanted me to write it down because she liked it. It was simple, too. I did it in the slow cooker so it could finish while I did other things. Of course, I didn't measure things out, so I'm guessing on amounts here.

1 1/2 c. lentils
1 1/2 c. water (add more as needed--the usual ratio is 1 c lentils to 1 1/2 c water)
1 can diced tomatoes (I used a can of chili-ready tomatoes from Aldi)
1/2 c. diced onion (as desired)
seasonings--chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne powder, cumin, oregano (whatever you like in your chili)
Add any other chili items you might have on hand: peppers, black olives (my kids like them at least), corn, etc. I stayed away from beans and meat since I was trying to go cheap and the lentils had protein anyway.

Place everything in a slow cooker on low for a couple hours at least.
Serve topped with cheese (I used a shredded Mexican mixture from Aldi) and cornbread (I made the recipe on the corn meal container).

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Taco Lasagna

I made up this recipe last week (I'm sure there are real recipe versions of it out there) to use up some leftovers from a taco night a few days earlier.

Grab 1 package of tortillas and any taco-type foods you have on hand.
I used a stoneware pie pan to cook it in. Anything that's about the same diameter as a tortilla shell will do.

I started by spooning some enchilada sauce onto the bottom of the pan (salsa could also be used) to help keep the food from sticking.

Place one tortilla shell in the pan. Begin layering.
Here's how I did mine:
tortilla shell
taco meat & cheese
tortilla shell
refried beans & enchilada sauce
tortilla shell
mexican style tomatoes & corn
tortilla shell
enchilada sauce, black olives & cheese on top

Bake at 350 for about a half hour (until the cheese on top is melted nicely).
If desired, top with lettuce, sour cream, avocado slices, etc.

You can really make this however you desire. It turned out nicely and the whole family enjoyed it.