Saturday, April 23, 2011

Earth Day

Last week we trudged down the street and through the rain to a little local park to help plant trees for Earth Day. We ended up planting the trees in the woods between the river and the bike path in order to crowd out invasive plant species. The morning turned out to be great fun and Milo was a great helper. As a thank you for volunteering we received coupons for free Jeni's ice cream at an Earth Day celebration today, also great yummy fun.

Each year (okay for the last two years) for Earth Day, I have given Milo an eco-themed picture book. Coincidentally these are Sesame Street published books and they are both huge hits here. Whether it is the familiar characters or the content of the books we have been reading Grover's 10 Terrific Tips and Plant a Tree for Me on repeat lately. (You should be able to find the Grover book in the Target dollar aisle and who knew the Muppets had their own wiki?)


In other earthy news, our pea sprouts are now ready to be planted outdoors, but I so loved them when they were wee little plants. I don't usually start seeds indoors, but this has been a great project to do with Milo. We water them, talk about their growth and what things they need to succeed and bear fruit - er veggies.

We've come a long way since this was our Earth Day message:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

To Continue?

So here it is, four whole days past the 16th and no month update has been posted. Although we have been busy and our sleep schedules seem to be undergoing another upheaval, this is mainly because I can't decide if I want to continue the monthly updates or not. On the one hand, I really like having the photograph each month and some written reminder of what Milo is doing and what we've been up to. On the other hand, I seem to be repeating myself quite a bit because at this age toddlers build on skills rather than come up with something totally new. If I do continue, I'll change the format a bit. I'm thinking bullet points and picture rather than a whole post each month and I'll stop counting by month (I can't imagine saying he is 25 months old - the boy is two, very two).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Go Ahead and Touch

As the mother to a curious two-year-0ld, I spend a lot of time saying don't touch. I don't particularly like saying don't touch, but many things in life aren't for touching and some objects are just plain dangerous. So don't touch it is, at least most of the time. One afternoon after nap, I thought we would do an activity particularly made for touching and tactile exploration.

Several of the blogs I read are really into sensory boxes, so I thought I would give it a try. A sensory box is simply a container full of various textures - typically dry rice or beans and then whatever else you want to add (I used felted wool balls, quarters and larger beans amongst green split peas). To be honest, at first I really didn't see the point of these types of activities (plus I don't like the idea of food - no matter how cheap - going to waste). Milo wasn't a fan at first either, but the more we played and talked about the different objects we were feeling the more he liked it. The part he liked most though was getting a spoon and stirring it into a "soup" and then dividing into smaller bowls. While also an interesting activity, it didn't meet the goals of sensory, so I tried to direct him back to using his hands and searching for the different objects amongst the split peas.

All in all, it was a fun way to pass an hour, but I'm not sure sensory boxes will be a mainstay at our house. I'll keep trying to incorporate new textures and perhaps he'll come to like the activity more as he gets older. In the meantime, I am trying to think of a new craft to use all those split peas.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Meatless Dinners

In late high school and college, I flirted with being a vegetarian. I didn't really like eating meat and when there was an option, I chose veggie, but I didn't go out of my way to be consistently vegetarian. Eventually I came to like meat and became more comfortable with preparing it so that meat is often consumed at our house. However, there are many people who believe you can't really be a yogi and eat meat (it goes against the principle of ahimsa or non-violence). I'm not ready to ditch the meat entirely, but it's not a coincidence that I planned two meatless dinners for us this week when coming off of a weekend spent at yoga teacher training. Here are those two meals:

Pasta and Kale and Olives
1 box whole wheat pasta cooked according to package directions
1 bunch kale
1 can of fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 onion chopped
2 garlic cloves
small container of pitted green olives from the grocery store olive bar, chopped
Parmesan cheese
olive oil

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent. Add rinsed and chopped kale, tomatoes and olives. Steam covered until kale is softer and a more bright green color. Season to taste with salt, pepper, dried basil, red pepper flakes. Add cooked, drained pasta to pan, drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine. Top with grated cheese.

Verdict: Chris and I loved this one! So yummy and so simple. If you want more veggies, you can double the amount of kale. Milo happily ate a large serving of this and then asked for meat. He's a carnivore, that one.

Black Bean and Rice Enchiladas

2 cups cooked brown rice
1 can black beans or 2 cups cooked dried beans
1 cup taco sauce
1/2 cup salsa
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
Any desired add ins: frozen spinach, onion, corn
Flour tortillas
Cheddar cheese

Combine rice, beans, taco sauce, salsa and sweet potato (plus any add ins) in large pan. Cook until potato is tender adding liquid as needed, about 20 minutes. Spoon filling into tortillas and place seam side down in baking dish. Top with more taco sauce and desired amount of cheddar cheese. Bake until cheese is bubbly about 15 minutes.

Verdict: This is a hit here: we've been eating it almost once per week throughout the winter. I love that I can up the nutritional value by adding various ingredients and it keeps the dish from being the same each time. I've done this with corn tortillas also, but they don't stay together as well in the pan. The key to this recipe is having the rice already cooked. Typically if we have a stir fry with rice on Monday, it means we are going to be eating this on Wednesday because I just cook extra and save it.

So two nights of eating meatless this week means we're having cheeseburgers on the grill tonight!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Free Range Spring

Last week the bright pansies Milo and I planted on Monday were covered in a surprisingly large amount of snow by Wednesday.

Today there was rain and thunderstorms. In between showers we pulled on rain boots and headed out back for puddle jumping and splashing. As long as Milo holds my hand, I let him play in the alley that runs behind and beside our house. The best puddles are there.
A woman walked by with a disapproving look and muttered how brave I was. Brave for letting my son play in the rain? For letting him be a kid and jump in water to see how it splashes around his feet? I don't think that qualifies as brave, just as a fun way to pass the hours on a rainy Spring morning.