Showing posts from 2015

Enjoying Shakespeare

Froggy has been enjoying Shakespeare since a much younger age than I thought possible before I had children thanks to the suggestions and guidance of our curriculum.  We started our Shakespeare experience with the Nesbit and Lamb retellings.  With these rich retellings in her experience, Froggy was able to attend and truly enjoy the live performances of our local Shakespeare theater company.

And this year, our Shakespearean adventure has entered a new chapter.  We are reading Othello in all its original glory with the help of No Fear Shakespeare.  The side by side approach allows us to enjoy the rich beautiful language while still understanding the story.  It is a major jump from the retellings and therefore we are taking much longer working our way through the play than in previous years but it is worth it.  I was concerned that the complicated language, the switching back and forth, or the lengthy speeches would be a deterrent.  It hasn't.  I suspect in large part thanks to the…

Food Finds

Since we came back from Kansas, we have been having some fun experimenting with new recipes. Not  all of the experiments have been good but here are a couple that are major keepers

The first surprise win was our new favorite pasta sauce.   Froggy really likes pasta with red sauce but didn't really eat the sauce much.  When I offered her this new sauce, she chowed down on it and licked up the sauce.  She now eats the same amount of noodles with at least half again as much sauce and has no idea she is getting any veggies.  It is a double win for the Ima.

The second win is a breakfast burrito recipe I have fallen in love with these.  I could eat them every single day.  Froggy asked to try mine and gave it a double thumbs up,  With her eating them as well, I may need to start making a double batch. I started with this recipe and then tweaked it to suit our family

Breakfast Burrito

8 eggs
1 med onion - diced
1 bag frozen corn
black beans (an amount to balance out the corn)

Trial 2

Flavor Question: Can I make the peach flavor stronger by simmering the peaches on the stove?

Texture Question: How can we make the edges less brown and still keep it cooked inside?

Flavor Hypothesis - If I simmer the peaches on the stove, the peach flavor will get concentrated because we simmer off the water.

Texture Hypothesis -If I bake the bread for one hour at 325 instead of 350, the inside will be done and the edges will not be crispy yet

Experiment  Summary -We simmered the frozen peaches on the stove top between medium and medium-high until they thawed.  We then pureed them and the heat down to low.  We had the peaches on the heat for approximately half an hour. The flavor is definitely more intense. The peaches were hot so we had to be careful not to cook our eggs when we poured the peaches in. We mixed the dry goods into the rest for 40 seconds this time. We then separated the batter into two loaf pans evenly by weighing each pan as we added the batter.  We baked them for …

Trial 1

Flavor Question: Can I make the flavor more even by pureeing the peaches and evening out the fruit (putting in more cherries and less peaches)?

Texture Question: How can we make the edges less brown and still keep it cooked inside?

Flavor Hypothesis -  If I Puree the peaches and divide the fruit in half I will make a more even flavor in the bread.

Texture Hypothesis - If I bake it at the same temperature for only 50 min the insides will be done and the edges will not be burned yet

Experiment  Summary - When making the bread this time, we used 1 cup of sweet cherries instead of1/2 cup of  tart cherries.  The peaches were pureed and measured 1 cup. I forgot to put in the nutmeg with the other spices, but luckily I remembered just before we mixed so we were able to fix it.  We mixed for for 35 seconds this time. We wrote down the empty bowl bowl weight wrong and accidentally put too much in one loaf pan.  The loaves were baked for 50 minutes at the same temperature (350 degrees)

Flavor C…

Food Fun For Froggy

Froggy and I are working on a really neat project while we are trapped inside this winter.  She and I are going to write our own cookbook.  The plan is that it will be a deliciously educational way to teach scientific method, math, writing, and practical life skills.

We are going to work on  one recipe at time using the scientific method to analyze the changes we make as we  tweak and perfect the recipe.  The math will come in part as we change quanities and make conversions and weigh all the ingredients.  And the writing will be the best part as Froggy writes the scientific reports and as well as the recipe reviews.

Stay tuned next week as we tackle our first recipe, breakfast loaf. We are starting with a very generic loaf so that Froggy can use her creativity and develop her own unique flavor profile.

Happy Adoption Day

After a rocky, roller coaster three months, Little Bit is not officially, legally part of our family forever! She has been part our family in our hearts from the moment she was born.  Now she is part of our family in the eyes of the law as well. 


I am not sure if it is being a big sister, part of turning 10 or just time but Froggy has suddenly gotten more mature.  As a part of that, she decided to get her ears pierced!
 She was extremely brave during the process and been really responsible about caring for them.

Three months - sort of

Little Bit is officially three months old today.  Sort of.  But really she is a brand new baby only two weeks old.  She is 8lbs and 19 inches.  She eats and sleeps and has very brief awake phases.  She has beautiful hair that is just long enough now to fuzz and feels delicious when you rub her head.

She has been part of our lives for three months but she has only been home for roughly two weeks which helps remind us (if not the rest of the world) that she really is just a brand new baby.

But now that she is really supposed to be here ( ie full-term) she is doing so much better.  She still has major reflux and still needs oxygen support. But we are adjusting.  We figured out the wrap and she loves being worn.  She can be more upright which helps the reflux and she breathes more calmly and easily being worn.  And it also means I can keep life functioning at least somewhat.

Fairy House Jack O' Lantern

For ages I have been collecting ideas for how Froggy and I can make natural invitations to play.  Today we finally acted on one of those ideas.  We took one of the gourds from our still life painting and turned it into an amazing Jack O'Lantern.  Kitchen Counter Chronicles supplied the idea and instructions.  Froggy supplied the creativity and labor. 

I think it turned out awesome.  And as a bonus, we roasted the seeds and had a yummy snack.

Pumpkin Still Life

Froggy loves art and is always happy when doing an art project.  Yet she does not often choose on her own to create.  One of the benefits of the enforced slow-down that Little Bit is my willingness to provide artistic opportunities for us to do together.  Because it really does need to be together.  If I put out the supplies, 50/50 odds she will choose to partake.  However, if I suggest we do a project together, 95% chance, she will happily participate.

Today, we did Pumpkin Still Life paintings inspired by Buggy and Buddy. I explained to Froggy what a still life is.  She was stymied by the idea of trying to draw something 3D in 2D.  I explained that was the challenge and offered some techniques other artists employ.  Then we started.

She chose a interesting composition for her piece and was pleased with the reults. Froggy's is the one on the right.


Little Bit has only been part of our family for a very short time but she has changed our lives in big ways. She has helped me become a better parent not just to her but to Froggy as well.  Two months in the NICU forced me to slow down.  Even now that we are home Little Bit is not allowed out of the house except for doctor's visits so we are still moving at a slower pace.  The enforced slow-down has been an amazing lesson in patience.  This new found patience has made me a better parent to both my girls.

Recipe Redux - Enchilada Bake

Our family has been doing more vegan meals and one of our new favorite dinners is Enchilada Bake.  It is based off of this one from two peas and their pod.  But I made enough changes to the recipe that I wanted to note them here (specifically for Abba who is doing more of the cooking this Fall).  It makes enough that I can bring it for a potluck or Mitzvah Meal for the large families in our community. It is two meals minimum for our little family.

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, seeds removed, diced
1 orange pepper, seeds removed, diced
1 bag frozen corn
Juice of 1 small lime
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans red enchilada sauce

Add quinoa and water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and simme…

When does no mean never?

It is so hard sometimes to know the right path, to open your heart and hear the divine message.  How do you know if the horrible suffering you are experiencing is a test you need to push through or a sign you are headed down the wrong path?

It is really really hard to be told no over and over and over again while other people are being told yes all around you and not believe NO is your only option.

When is it time to pack up and go away?


I made my first ever attempt at pickles. We were given a bunch of carrots that I am experimenting with.

The first batch was a sweet recipe from Well Preserved and the second batch is a rosemary garlic variety from the same book.  The third batch is a very traditional recipe I found here.  We have only tasted the first kind as the others still need to sit and develop a bit.  We are going to do a taste test at Shabbos dinner this week.

Parenting Musings

During my morning contemplations, I was struck with the differences in how I parent the visiting children who come into our lives versus how I treated Froggy at the same age. These thoughts did not sit well

For a variety of reasons, legal requirements foremost among them, these young visitors are tucked into bed, kissed goodnight and then left; left to their dreams, good or bad, left to their unknown thoughts and feelings, left at time when not leaving is a sign of trust.

These visitors were never abandoned but I am not sure they knew that, believed that deep in their hearts.  I do know that I tried to make that clear but that does not mean I succeeded. With Froggy I always made sure it was clear and never left any room for doubt.

Biking Adventures

This summer marks a mighty change.  Last year we pushed hard to enable Froggy to make a decent length bike ride.  But it was still a challenge rather than a fun activity.  This year, she rode a whopping 4.5 miles without any serious struggle. Each week we are taking a bike ride ranging from 2-6 miles typically with a stop at a midpoint destination but sometimes it is just a fun circle.

Muddy Feet

There is one good thing about mud season.  It gives some of the best tracks.  Here are a couple we saw one a recent hike.
This one was easy for Froggy to identify. We get lots of deer around here.

Pi Day

Yesterday was the Pi Day of the century.   In order to prepare we made Pi Skylines.  I hung a poster of Pi. Froggy was giggly at the idea of turning a number into a picture.  This is probably the first time she has actually worked with graph paper.  I did not realize that until we were well into the program.  I worked along side Froggy but did mine silhouette style in all shadow. You can't tell in the pictures but the birds in the sky are little Pis.    We had chocolate pie for dessert.  I forgot to take a picture of it so I will share the recipe photo (mine are never this pretty).  I hope you enjoyed your Pi day as much as we did.

A new look

It was a big change for Froggy today.  She got her haircut short.  Goodbye braids Hello Curls

Soil Testing

Froggy and her friend, M decided to compare the soils in their gardens.  These contraptions simulate the rainfall while catching the runoff. 
The shorter container is from Froggy's garden with potting soil while the taller container is from M's backyard where she uses plain dirt. You can see how much more erosion there was from the potting soil. Froggy finally understood why we have to keep refilling the pots.

The Boston Massacre

This year we are studying Colonial Times through the Revolution.  This week's topic was the Boston Massacre.  We read the overview and then Abigail's perspective and then played the neatest game.  It's purpose is to compare the different images and accounts of event in order to determine what actually happened.  the whole family played together and we all learned something.
Did you know there are several different artistic renderings  showing different perspectives of the event?  I certainly did not. This engraving by Paul Revere is the one we all know and recognize.  It is almost the only one anyone knows.   While this image, more accurately depicts the events according to the eyewitness testimony. 
It is interesting that the actual witness testimony recorded during the trial shows a very different version of the events than I was ever taught in school.

Swimming with Ben

One of our special people this year is Benjamin Franklin.  After struggling through Poor Richard's Almanac and hearing about his life in his language, I decided we need to do more to make these wonderful inventions come alive.  So I ordered
Amazing BEN FRANKLIN Inventions: You Can Build Yourself  .  It is a great book which gives some background on how and why Benjamin Franklin invented the items he did and then offers a wide variety of ideas to try out.  Our first adventure was making swim paddles because young Ben loved the water and swimming.  He wanted to go faster so he invented both hand paddles and fins. Froggy has yet to test hers out because winter is not the best time for heading to the pool.

Civil War Battles

We really are focusing on the Revolutionary War but our area is covered in Civil War battle fields so there is always some Civil War history going on. Despite the cold, we and a group of friends walked Bull Run battlefield.  They have a great Visitors Center with an interactive map that shows the progression of the battle and how the terrain was used by both sides.

Science Sunday - Bouncy Balls

Doesn't that headline sound awesome?  Don't they look like fun?  Froggy and I certainly thought so.  We had all the requisite supplies so we jumped in.  .    We have made lots and lots of batches of slime. And this looked and felt identical. Tons of fun but not what we expected. The only difference between their "recipe" and standard slime is the addition of cornstarch. It is supposed to make the slime dry enough make a good firm ball. The slime did dry out some after we refrigerated it but it still went splat rather than bounced

Linking to All Things Beautiful Science Sunday Meme

Snow Day

It finally snowed a decent amount.  The first time all winter.  It was probably on 4" or so but it was enough that Abba even got to stay home.  We all went sledding at our favorite sledding hill  And even with my hurt foot I went down too.  Part of what makes this hill great is that it has different paths of steepness depending on how brave you are.  Froggy finally worked up the courage to go down the fast hill.
And no snow day would be complete without riding the plow hills

Mardi Gras!!

In honor of Mardi Gras, this week's baking adventure was a King Cake to share with our friends from Louisiana.  We chose a traditional recipe with a cinnamon nut filling. When Froggy asked why,  I explained that this was a fun holiday that is popular in Lousiana where Aunt P grew up.  Froggy commented that it looked like they were trying to copy Purim. I replied that many people see the similarities.

Valentines Day

Many Observant families won't celebrate Valentines day but we do. To me it is a secular holiday about friendship and love  At least that is what I tell Froggy.  This year it was all about homemade.   Abba and I do not usually give each other presents But I could not resist.  While helping Froggy get the materials for her string heart, I got inspired and needed to make this one.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of Froggy's before she gave it to her friend.
We also scrapbooked a fun card for Abba And made cut out heart cookies with red and pink sprinkles.

Tu B'Svhat

For the first time in a long time, we invited friends over and made a fun seder.  The whole family worked together to make a fun centerpiece.

We used a fun guide as the basis for our seder.  And had tons of fun sings songs and doing crafts.  We made bird feeder necklaces (currently decorating the centerpiece) and planted seeds.  I put out a variety and let everyone pick their own favorite.  Froggy and I picked the standard parsley but we also planted date pits as well.  They have not sprouted yet but we are tending them faithfully. 

New Friends, New Tech

Froggy had her very first Google Hangout today with a new friend in Quebec.  They both avid readers without many local Jewish friends.  We were a bit caught of guard with the technical challenges.  We were expecting a text-based chat and ended up on a video call.  Froggy was surprised and extremely shy.  She finally warmed up and I think they hit it off.  Hopefully we will have more chances to talk.

Art with her Aunt

One of Froggy's favorite parts of our regular winter breaks trips up north are the special trips she gets to take with her Aunt Adrian.  Adrian is not related by blood but is part of what we call our chosen family.  She has been part of our lives for the last 20 years.  She has such a special relationship with Froggy and is the only person Froggy and I both trust implicitly to recommend new books.

Today they went to see the Gardner Museum which was according to Froggy, "cool cool super cool."  It is an old house turn museum with amazing tapestries, statues and a mosaic courtyard that captivated Froggy. They toured the first floor where the Greek statues were deemed "weird" and the portraits were awesome.

To make the trip even more special they stopped for ice cream on the way home at a place where Froggy had choices.  For a little girl allergic to dairy this is truly special.