Monday, May 30, 2011

In Memoriam

With gratefulness for all who have given their lives so that we may have freedom...

Montessori Monday

I feel like some of my Montessori Monday posts are starting to get repetitious, although I know that will change as we move into summer and fall when Finn is home more and we're working more closely on units and moving to new activities. For now, I just want to be able to look back and see the progress he's made, what interested him at different points, and be able to reflect on work's that were significant for him.

Finn finished his MightyMind work this week, although he didn't want it removed from the shelf because he wants to go back to it. I definitely see SuperMind in his future since he enjoyed this work so much.

He laced beads for a while one day this week. I can't say that this is one of his favorite works, but he will entertain it for a card or two occasionally.

The lacing shapes that we stumbled upon in NYC, proved to be a much bigger hit than the beads. I didn't get too many pictures since he wanted me to knit alongside him (how sweet is that?!).

The cards lace into a book when you are finished lacing each card. As soon as Finn heard that, he wanted to finish the work in one sitting. After working for 1.5 hours, we had to break for lunch and nap, but he finished the remaining cards in the afternoon. He had his book by the end of the day and was thrilled!

He still loves the cutting work and actually is more than 3/4 way through the book now.

I found this stainless steel tray at a thrift shop this week. As soon as I showed Finn, he gathered up his wooden rainbow hearts to sort into the tray.

And of course, we spent more time juicing this week. Finn juiced a grapefruit this time, which he learned is much bigger and provides more juice than an orange.

He carefully strained his juice into a pitcher, then poured it into his glass.

He didn't even ask for sugar to sweeten the juice, just happily slurped it right up.

What are you working on right now? Check out One Hook Wonder for more Montessori Monday links.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Saturday lunch

I was amazed at some of the selections appearing at the farmer's market this week, peaches, squash, multiple varieties of blueberries! Woohoo, I think summer is almost officially here when the farmer's market gets so full. Soon the fresh garden tomatoes will be here and then we will reach the pinnacle, although I'm not complaining about the greenhouse tomatoes we currently enjoy!

This week, the fresh blueberries from the market found their way into vegan blueberry muffins, recipe from the BabyCakes cookbook. (The title of this book is a little misleading as about half of the recipes call for spelt and are not actually gluten-free.) Our muffins were made with locally ground organic spelt, staying as close to our farmer's market goal as possible.

Our salad this week consisted of greenhouse tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions and basil drizzled with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Delicious! Basil and balsamic vinegar so compliment one another in flavor. It's like a summer party right in your mouth.

Peaches! You could smell them in the distance before we ever reached their booth at the farmer's market. We picked the yellow peaches which were a bit riper than the white and we wanted to enjoy them right now! Finn actually carried one around the market with him and kept sniffing it. (Note to self: pay attention to the dishes next time! Placing red-streaked peaches in a red bowl and yellowish-brown muffins in a yellowish-brown napkin lined basket. Back to Photography 101 for me!)

Additionally, we sauteed zephyr squash and onions from the market with garlic and olive oil.

The culmination of farmer's market goodies this week: pure heaven!

Friday, May 27, 2011

{this moment} - the lettuce pickers

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. See Soulemama to play along.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

my favorite summery Asian salad

Once the temperatures climb into the 90s, where they have hovered all week long, I start trying to find recipes that require as little stove and oven time as possible. Thankfully, the farmer's market is fuller each week of fresh local veggies and what hasn't arrived at the market yet is waiting at my local Whole Foods.

When the heat begins to soar, one of my favorite summer salads to prepare is this Asian-inspired veggie and cellophane noodle (or bean thread) salad. Unfortunately, none of my kids are sold on it, except Finn who will pick around the raw cabbage. That just means I'll have some for lunch tomorrow too, which doesn't hurt my feelings a bit!

The great thing about this salad is that it can really be made with almost any veggies on hand. The secret is in the dressing and the cellophane noodles. On this particular occasion, the veggies I had available were red cabbage (which I almost always include in this salad as it lends great substance), a medium zucchini, 2 smallish carrots, a half of a green bell pepper and half of a pound brick of tofu.

The drained and cubed tofu was tossed in a sauce of 2 tbsp coconut oil and 1 tbsp soy sauce and baked in the oven at 450 for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the tofu was crispy on most sides.

Summery Asian Salad Dressing

2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp ground ginger

Shake vigorously in a separate container before pouring over the veggies and noodles.

Soak the noodles according to the directions on the package and cool. Toss with julienned and thinly sliced veggies. Pour dressing over salad and chill for one hour. (Or 20 minutes in the freezer if you are rushed, like I sometimes am. :)

Garnish with mung bean sprouts, or extra sesame seeds, or whatever will make the salad your favorite summery Asian salad.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

::right now::

::lush green plants, enjoying the frequent rains::

::nutbabies in the windowsill, catching the afternoon sunshine::

::a wax fish, swimming in his felt pool::

::discovering hidden meadows of daisies::

::biking down the hill at full speed::

::self-cut bangs (without mama's permission)::

::a balancing act::

::a skateboarding Tonka::

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

our over-scheduled children

Late spring has arrived and with it the busy schedules that seem glued to the end of school year. Late spring also bring the beginning of the summer swim team season with which I have a love-hate relationship every year.

We have 4 children, as most of you know. Two of our children are content to play at home, outside, creatively and as they see fit. They want nothing to do with extracurricular activities save the occasional art camp or lego camp.

We have one child who is too young to know whether he enjoys that kind of thing, and we aren't the kind of parents to push activities before they start asking.

But we have one who is quite the joiner. He would swim, run and climb all day, every day so long as he could find someone to run him to and fro. And well, I'm just not the to-and-fro kind of mom.

Just carting everyone to school seems like enough of a chore, and I relish our nightly family dinners, evenings in the yard and bike riding, weekends visiting farms and nearby woods.

When this summer approached and Paulie expressed his desire to both join the swim team and a local running club, we had to have a serious discussion about his choices. Not only were both sports logistically impossible, as both had an almost nightly commitment, but quite frankly since quitting my job, I've looked forward to all of the things we might do as a family this summer and either sport is quite an undertaking.

So we settled on allowing him to join the swim team for the third year because the season only lasts until mid-July and only takes 2 nights per week (and 1 weekend morning) until the end of the school year in 3 weeks.

But I have to tell you, as we're scrounging for quicky dinners to make it to swim practice on time, I wish we could have more unscheduled time. Oh, I know there are families with multiple kids who are running here and there nearly every night of the week with this sport and that music or art lesson.

And I sometimes wonder, when do their kids have time to just be kids?

When do they have time to romp through creek beds, to send lego men down rapid waterfalls, to throw rocks in pools of water, to use unsettled rocks as surfboards, to pretend to be beavers building a dam, to splash an unsuspecting sibling, to wander down a root-laden path, and to take a break over a juicy piece of watermelon?

I want my children to feel confident in following their dreams even if that means my schedule is put to the test, but not at the expense of experiencing the best moments of their childhood. Because when I look fondly back on my own childhood, it's not the (admittedly limited) extracurricular activities that I recall as my greatest joys.

I remember wandering trails in the woods, splashing in creeks, building forts, constructing dams, rolling in mud, and picking vegetables and fruits straight from vines and trees, usually with my brother and cousins.

And this is the legacy I want to gift my own children.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Montessori Monday

Once again, we started off the week with orange juice-making. I think this is the most popular work in the house right now.

Once Finn makes his orange juice, the big siblings want in on the action, and they usually make juice until we're out of oranges (which is why this work is only a once-a-week work).

But oh how delicious it is while it lasts!

Finn still enjoys his sandpaper letters almost every day.

He continues to struggle with the rhyming cards, although that doesn't stop him from trying. He tends to want to find the same initial consonant instead of the rhyme.

We found an inexpensive lidded brownie pan and some sand leftover from another project to make a letter writing work.

Finn enjoys tracing the sandpaper letter with his finger then drawing the letter in the sand.

We observed the basil he planted making an appearance. We noticed that every sprout that popped through the dirt had 2 tiny leaves.

We also found a little nutmeg grater for Finn to work with. He really enjoys carefully grating the nutmeg into dough, and so far he's kept his finger clear of the grater. This grater is great to use for Montessori work because the nutmeg stores in a tiny compartment in the top of the grater.

What are you working on this week? Check out One Hook Wonder for more Montessori Monday ideas.