Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Summer Squash and Corn Chowder

One of my favorite things about the summer is the farmer's market. I love going every week to get fresh fruits and veggies. And then I like eating them! One of my favorite ways to get that farmer's market bounty is in this soup: Summer Squash and Corn Chowder.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Board Books that Won't Make You Bored

Our Guest Blogger today is Hilary, MaryAnn's sister.  Hilary, a former librarian, is Mommy to one book eating toddler.  She's here today to share some of her favorite board books with us - books that are fun for toddlers and their parents!

Who says board books have to be boring for adults? The BabyLit series brings literary classics to a youngster’s level, all the while playing off of the adult’s broader knowledge of the story.  Though short on actual plot, this version of Romeo and Juliet incorporates many iconic elements of Shakespeare’s famous play that parents will appreciate.  Look for other fun titles such as Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre

Friday, August 15, 2014

My Three-Year Old's Bible

Today I thought I'd share with you a Bible that we have been reading that we have really been enjoying. One that is perfectly suited for my three-year old: The Read with Me Bible.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Cheater Korean Beef Bowl

Looking to add some new recipes to your shortlist for the new school year? If so, I have a perfect one for you that you won't want to miss out on trying. Reasons this recipe is sticking with us this school year:

1. It's Korean-ish, and while we eat Thai and Indian and Chinese and Greek and Kenyan food, I've never made anything Korean. So adding this to our monthly menu is a fun way to diversify a bit more.
My kids have a couple Korean friends, so they were super excited to eat this meal. I think it makes them feel more connected?

2. It's delicious. Everyone liked it, ate their whole serving and asked for more. Too bad we don't do any main dish seconds at our house (we do allow unlimited amounts of vegetables, for those of you who think we're mean parents :)).

3. It's very inexpensive. Beef. Rice. Some seasonings.

4. It's really easy and really fast to make. This is important when Jakey starts his classes up again and isn't there to help distract kids while I cook in the kitchen. Cooking is fun in the summer. Cooking is not fun during the school year. :)

Okay, on to the recipe, right? A few pictures first...

The older girls got in on this recipe, and here's Ada, being my expert stirrer. She loves to stir and does not stop until everything is thoroughly mixed. 

I've started giving Aly the job of cooking hamburger and while she did touch the pan once the first time, she hasn't done it since then. I was a little nervous to let her get started in using the stove, but I thought, well, why not? I thought, She's interested and I know that many 5 year olds around the world are doing way more dangerous things. I think she can handle this. And she does!

Again, Ada stirs the seasoning mixture into the cooked burger. She thought it was awesome that she got to stir something in a HOT pot. 

And, our delicious dinner finished and ready to eat!

This recipe comes from a blogger I just discovered and who I'm really liking so far! The name of her blog is Damn Delicious (sorry, I don't curse, but I mean, that's the name of her blog so whatever) and her recipes are interesting, simple, and look really delicious. I've made some small adaptations. 

Cheater Korean Beef Bowl

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tb sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed ginger (I use this)
1 heaping teaspoon of roasted garlic (I use this)
1.25 lb ground beef
3 green onions, thinly sliced
sesame seeds for garnish
cooked rice

In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger.

Brown ground beef and garlic together in a skillet. Drain excess fat (this is important!). Stir in the soy sauce mixture and simmer for a couple minutes. Serve over rice and garnish with sesame seeds and green onion slices. 

Seriously, try this one out on the family and see what they think! :) Happy cooking. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

A School Paperwork Organizational System that Works

Last year about this time, I shared a few ideas on staying organized throughout the school year. Because I was not yet a parent of a school-aged child at that point, those ideas were mere suggestions passed down by other wise bloggers.

I choose one of those handy-dandy organizational systems for this past school year and it worked out so well that I wanted to share it with those of you who are still looking for something that actually works and is easy to stick with all the way through May (or June, if you're lucky like us :)).

The file system.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Book Review: Goodnight, Ark by Laura Sassi

I'm always on the lookout for good children's picture books that are based on stories from the Bible.  I must admit, though, sometimes I'm a teeny bit nervous to review these kind of books because many of them are not very engaging.

Goodnight, Ark, written by Laura Sassi and illustrated by Jane Chapman is one of the few that has really kept my kids' attention- it's really funny! Sassi takes us inside of Noah's ark… and it's not a tame picture! The first night on the ark, Noah nestles into this bed, only to have his sleep interrupted by wild animals! How will he ever get them all back into their beds?

Moms and Dads will like this book because we can probably relate to Noah. Who hasn't had small "wild animals" bound into bed with us in the middle of the night during a bad thunderstorm?! Kids will love it because of the catchy rhythm and rhyme, the top-notch illustrations and because one of the animals is…. a skunk. Ha! It's pretty funny, especially for kids who think that stinkyness is hilarious (or is it just my kids?!). It ends in a really sweet, cozy way- perfect for bedtime.

Overall, this is a super cute book that is a great way for the story of Noah's ark to really come alive instead of seeming like a story from the past that is sterile and impersonal. :) I've read some reviews that were disappointed because it "played with the Bible"… but my take on this is that if a book gets my kids excited about stories of the Scriptures, I'm all for it!

Enjoy this book trailer; see what you think!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Note: This post contains an affiliate link. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Permission You Might Need to Do this School Year Well

Author's Note: Please be aware that not everyone will need this post. Some of you are super good at saying no…and some of you are too good at saying no, so good that perhaps you need a post that gives you permission to take a risk and say yes. But, for those of you who say yes too much (you so know who you are), this one is for you. 

August hit and I've found myself starting to gear up.

New schedules.
Being back at home with the kids by myself all day.
Morning routines.
After-school crankiness.
Library storytimes.
Organizing class parties.
PTO meetings.
Halloween costumes.
Paperwork organizing.
Stress because we're ALL busy and have things to do.
Preschool "homeschool" lesson plans**
"Mom" small groups at church
Family small groups

While I really like most of these things, the expected stress comes because all of this is simply an add-on to our already busy life.

Last school year was really challenging to me. Not only did we have a million life changes, I also did a horrible job at drawing boundaries. I ended up not sleeping as much as I should have and stopped engaging in the rhythms of my life that were life-giving because I was too busy.

This year will be different... because I've discovered a beautiful secret and I want to share it with you.