Wednesday, November 25

Naturally Curious Tots - Pine Trees

One of Froggy's favorite activities while out lately is to find which trees are ready for winter and which trees are still working on getting there. According to her, a tree is ready if all the leaves have fallen off. Trees that still have their colorful display of Autumn leaves are still working on getting ready.

This did not work so well when we came across an evergreen shrub on a walk (For some reason the shrubs at her front door do not trigger). I took the opportunity to explain the difference pointing out how thin the leaves were so the snow could fall through without getting caught too much.

So now several days later she has added a new category to the mix, those that don't need to get changed. We often collect acorns on our walks so on our most recent walk when we were comparing evergreen with other trees, I showed her a pine cone under the tree

This led to an intense need in Froggy to match each tree she knows with the kind of seed it makes. She was slightly disturbed that the Maple tree's seeds were visible in Spring not Fall but has already declared her intention to play with them.

Tuesday, November 24

Our Thankful Tree

We started a tradition when Froggy was two of having a Thankful Tree. Working on it this year has been so much fun. Froggy is old enough this year to make a meaningful contribution. Listening to what she chooses melts my heart. That she just keeps wanting to add more and more is so sweet.

The tree itself looks nicer since I took more time with the prep and used my cookie cutter to make the leaves. Setting it up earlier and watching it blossom with leaves has made me smile.

So another thing I am thankful this year is our Thankful Tree.

Sunday, November 22

Menu Planning Monday - Thanksgiving and Pizza

This is a short week for menu planning. We will be with the family for Thanksgiving and then heading to Walt Disney World from there. Which means no more cooking for me after Tuesday until December 7th.

Monday -Chicken and Sweet Potatoes - We never got to this last week. I failed to plan ahead enough to take the chicken from the freezer.
Tuesday - Pizza with homemade sauce - we still have some leftover from the last batch I made
Wednesday - Leave for Grandparents!!!

Since it is a short week I thought I would include my pizza dough recipe. It is so simple. I love pizza night. I make the dough in the morning and I am done. Daddy and Froggy make pizza together as their special bonding time.

1 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon pure olive oil
3/4 cup warm water
2 cups flour (I grind my own which means it is whole wheat but any works)
1 teaspoon instant yeast

Put all the ingredients in the mixer. Mix slowly until flour is incorporated with whisk attachment. Switch to dough hook. Turn up the mixer a bit and let it knead for 6 minutes. You are done. It is that easy.

We bake ours on a stone from Pampered Chef. It makes the crust so much crispier but we love it even on a cookie sheet.

I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving. Check out what everyone is planning for this festive week at Orjunkie

Saturday, November 21

Christmas Reprieve

I was just granted a reprieve. I thought I was going to need all the holiday presents ready in time for Thanksgiving since we are seeing the family then but had not planned to see them at Christmas.

The Daddyman decided that even though it means three long drives in three months, we will be visiting the grandparents for Christmas as well as Thanksgiving. That means I now have extra time for finish gathering all the presents. The only ones I need to take now are the niece's birthday gifts.

Friday, November 20

Field Trips

I love fieldtrips. Yet I so rarely get my act together to schedule it. We live in easy driving distance of the National Mall and all the wonderful Smithsonian museums. However, with them always available there is no motivation to go now.

The Discovery Theater is also right on the Mall. So I have committed to several of the age-appropriate shows. The limited nature of these shows ensures that we actually get there. We went for our first show of the year today. Froggy got her first taste of HipHop with Secret Agent 23. She even got up and danced a bit.

We had planned to have a picnic afterwards and then head home to Park Day. But before the show even started, Froggy asked if we could go to the dinosaur museum after lunch. The picnic was wonderful. I wish I had brought our camera. Froggy danced with statues in the Sculpture Garden. I had to keep reminding Froggy that we only had limited time and that we could not see everything in one day. I kept telling her we would come back and this time I could even give her a date. This is the reason I homeschool. She wanted to visit all the museums. I want this joy to last forever. The unexpected learning is the most real and joyous.

We finally made our way over to the Natural History Museum. We spent about an hour in the new Ocean Exhibit. Froggy fell in love with Phoenix, who introduced her to Baleen. It took lots of questions for her to understand what makes these whales different and how they eat. But she just kept asking and asking until she was comfortable with her understanding.

Once we finally did make our way over to the dinosaurs, we got to see a scientist preparing a fossil with an autopsy saw (not this one but just like her). It was really cool. We had fun deciding which dinosaurs we should be scared of (only the carnivors). Herbivores are apparently nice even if they look frightening. Those big spikes are only for defense.

I am very much looking forward to our next trip.

Wednesday, November 18

WFMW - Thanksgiving Crafts

With preschoolers, learning about the holidays is a very hands on process. Reading stories is all well and good and gives an introduction but doing makes it come alive. I am strong believer in allowing children to participate in preparations for any event as much as possible both to ease the parent's burden and to help the child prepare and learn.

We are going to the grandparents for Thanksgiving which means there is no holiday shopping or cooking here with which a little one can help. We have also limited our decorating since we will be gone from before Thanksgiving until right before Hanukkah.

So instead we are making place cards and decorations to take to Grandma's. We will be making Apple Turkeys. Ours are somewhere between this and this. I like the marshmallow face but I like the construction paper tail better. We are putting the names right on the tail. Eyes are raisins and the nose is a candy corn.

For our first attempt I tried laminating real leaves which I thought would be super cool. It didn't really work since the seal on the laminating did not stick.

So we fell back to construction paper. We used a cookie cutter as our guide for the shape. I think they turned out nice.
Froggy thought eating the ones that did not work was the best part.

Sunday, November 15

Menu Planning - Crockpot Love

I love my crockpot. Three out of the four meals I will cook this week get to use it. It makes my evenings so much easier. Froggy tends to get cranky and need much more of my attention later in the day. Doing all the prep work for dinner early in the day gives me the ability to provide Froggy what she needs happily.
  • Sunday - Out with Friends
  • Monday - Class for me - Homemade Pizza and salad for the gang. I will make the dough and the sauce early in the day. Then Daddy and Daughter get to dress the pizza together as their sp
  • Tuesday - Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew and Broccoli
  • Wednesday - Picnic at the Pool - We never got to the chili last week. I will reheat the chili and then pack it in the thermos. All the fixings will go in the picnic basket and we have an easy hot dinner pool side when we finish swimming. It is so much nicer than fast food on the drive home.
  • Thursday - Spaghetti, Sauce (from Monday) and Salad
  • Friday - Pot Roast, Challah, Butternut Squash with Baby Spinach -
  • Saturday - Gyros and All the Fixings

Sunday, November 8

Menu Planning Monday - Post Houseguests

We finally have our house back to ourselves for the first time since late August. Since we are going to the granparents for Thanksgiving all I have to do work on feeding my little family for awhile.

Our freezer is a mess and I would love to defrost it but have no where to put all the food while I do so we are working on trying to eat out of the freezer while at the same time I am trying to take advantage of some holiday food sales.

Sunday - Homemade pizza
Monday - Shepards Pie and Salad (from the freezer)
Tuesday - Tofu Stir Fry/ rice / Keem
Wednesday - Pasta, Homemade Sauce, salad, garlic bread
Thursday - Brown Sugar Salmon, Rice, broccoli
Friday - PreK Shabbat Dinner at Synagogue
Saturday - Chili (from freezer), chips and salad