We are finally getting some good snow here in Southern MN. Before we had snow, it was so hard to get the kids to go out and play. Which I understand why, it was cold out and there was no snow! What do you do outside in the winter with no snow?! But ever since the last snow fall, they have been out everyday. I don't even have to make them! Today they were out before 8:30am! Clare writes "outside" on her calender for every day of the week. Ah, the joys of childhood, having only one thing to do on your to do list. Over the years of playing outside we have learned a few tricks to keep snow out of their boots/ankles and gloves/wrists. Our secret is.....DUCT TAPE! Yep, we tape their gloves to their coats and tape their snow pants over their boats. Clare got so warm yesterday she came inside to cool off. My husband also built an awesome snow fort for them. So far it fits 2 kids. They are working on 2 more snow forts and will soon have a neighborhood in our back yard. Yesterday they were pretending they were a family of bears preparing for hibernation season. They were gathering and storing food and finishing up the fort. I also gave them a spray bottle filled with water and food coloring. They decorated their food with green water.
What is your favorite winter activity to do as a family?
My hubby took the girls on their very first ice fishing trip. Our friend has an ice house on a lake about 1.5 hours away. We didn't know what to expect but the girls loved it! They came home at about 10:30pm and my oldest stayed up until 11 telling me all about it. Then around 3 am, my 4 year old came down, half asleep, and told me about it.
They told me all about the snowman they made, the ice house, the minnows, the fish they caught (3 crappies and 1 walley) the canned foods they cooked on the ice house heater, the hot chocolate, the flag that went up and down when they caught a fish and so much more! Clare, my oldest, asked if fish pee she learned that fish do not urinate. They release ammonia from their body through the gills.
After my hubby filleted the fish, my 4 year old looked in the bowl containing all the unwanted fish parts and wanted to keep them all for a craft project! My hubby said no, but eventually gave in and let her bring home the fish tails. This is so like Becca. She will take anything and turn it into a craft project! So today we baked the tails on a very low setting to dry them out. Then she painted 3 and put one in our nature book. Becca also came home with a dead minnow in her coat pocket! She is not your typical girl! She loves everything that crawls, slithers, and that is slimy. That minnow was sealed with tape and put into our nature book as well. Clare came home with 2 minnows to keep as pets. So far, one already died!
Today their writing assignment was to add a page to our nature book about the ice fishing trip.
They can't wait to go back!
When I get the picture of the girls holding the fish, I will post it for you all to see!
Have you ever taken your kiddos on a fishing trip? In the summer time or winter time? What did they think?
My hubby and I have always enjoyed cooking from scratch. It was no big deal when it was just us, (which didn't last long) and had a lot of free time or even when we just had one kid. Our free time started to disappear, but we still wanted to cook our "from scratch" meals. Our kids know what real food is. They usually will not eat food from a box or even snack foods that are loaded with sugar and artificial flavors. (We definitely do eat kraft mac n cheese and a frozen pizza every now and then) So we decided to turn Monday into our cooking day. We have been doing this for the past 3 years. This is the day we make enough meals, snacks, and breads to last the whole week. Yeah, we make a huge mess in the kitchen this day, all of our silverware and every single mixing bowl ends up dirty, but it makes preparing meals so much easier and we have way less dishes to clean during the week.
What do we usually make? Well, we always make homemade tortillas, a big pot of vegetarian chilli, granola bars, a quick bread, treats, snacks, enchiladas, pizzas, lasagna, soups, hummus, and the list goes on. We usually make enough to freeze for future use. We our always good to our future selves!
Our menu for this week was: homemade tortillas, vegetarian chili, carrot bread, chocolate clusters, and fattiar. (Labanese meat pies) We still have enchiladas, granola bars, and oatmeal cookies in the freezer if we need them. As a nursing momma, I am hungry all the time. So I really love having all these healthy and yummy foods ready to go. Sometimes the kids will say, burritos again!?! But they always gobble them up. I love that we are still able to eat healthy meals, but not spend hours in the kitchen preparing them on a daily basis. I also love that my kids know what "from scratch" means and prefer meals made by us and not from the frozen food isle. I hope they will continue this tradition with their own kids!
My hubby is part Lebanese and I love Lebanese dishes. We make grape leaves, kibby, hummus, and mujaddara on a regular basis. Here is a recipe we use for the meat pies aka: Fattiar. You can also use spinach and other veggies for the filling.
From: Favorite Syrian Recipes Cookbook
Recipe for Fattiar
4 cups flour, (we used 1 cup heirloom red fife and 3 cups unbleached white)
1/2 pkg. dry yeast
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1+ cup water
Mix wet ingredients together, add to flour, knead well. Form dough into lemon sized balls. Cover with dish towel. Let raise for about an hour or until double in size.
Meat and potato filling:
3 cups ground beef
3 cups grated raw potatoes
1/2 cup grated onions
1 T. salt
1/3 tsp pepper
2 T. lemon juice
After grating potatoes, rinse well. Mix all filling ingredients together.
When dough is ready, roll out into circles about the size of a corn tortilla on a floured board. Place about 2 TBSP of filling in the center of each circle. Pinch sides to make a triangle. Bake on oiled pan at 375 for about 20 minutes. ENJOY!
Is there something your family does weekly to make life easier? Do you have a favorite food/recipe you can't live without during the week?
We have been celebrating Valentine's Day here for the last couple of days. The kids made their own boxes and had fun making and handing out valentine's to each other. I surprised the kiddos with a heart shaped breakfast: biscuits and eggs. They loved it! They said it was the best Valentine's Day ever! Which is something we here often over here on holidays and birthdays. I am glad it doesn't take lots of candy and gifts to satisfy my kids on holidays. A little bit of handmade gifts and a whole lotta love is all it takes.
I made the biscuits with locally grown wheat flour. My new favorite flour to use in all my recipes. It is so yummy!
This is where you can purchase it and find out more: http://goodearthmill.com/
What did you do for Valentine's Day? Does your family of a tradition?
From: Clear Creak Coop Cookbook
1 c. Good Earth Heirloom Whole Wheat Flour
1 c. all purpose unbleached flour
1 t. sugar
1 T. baking powder
½ t salt
5 T. unsalted butter (cold, in small pieces)
3/4 c. half-and-half
Preheat oven to 450F. Toss together flours, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add half-and-half, stir gently. Gather into ball. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface. Knead 30 sec. Pat into 3/4 in. thick rectangle. Using 2 3/4 in cookie cutter, cut out 8 circles, using all the dough. Arrange biscuits about 1 in. apart on baking sheet. Bake until puffed and golden, about 12-14 min. Cool on wire rack.
We finally quit caring about that imaginary person that may or may not buy our house at some unknown time in the distant future. I think we let that person influence our decisions way too much. Of course it's important to consider the value of your house when doing anything to it. We don't want to devalue our house for a lot of reasons, but we also want it to be OUR house. So we quit caring about that cheap carpet in the craft room and when the kids get paint on it it's no big deal. We pulled the carpet out of the living room and now it doesn't really matter a whole lot what happens to that old wood floor. If and when we redo it there is nothing that can be spilled that will survive the amount of sanding we'll have to do anyway (except maybe a can of stain....) And if we choose not to redo the wood floor, we'll just cover it all anyway. So in other words: we really lightened up about our house. Hey, it's for living in right? So to set the new tone we started a big mural right in our living room. It's going to be a four season field guide. One wall for each season. It includes below and above water and ground. So we'll have hibernating critters, swimming fish, flying birds, burrowing snakes, worms, soil and rock layers, roots, and lots of plants. We'll keep you updated on the progress.
This is a great and easy way to entertain kids (and adults) for hours. Its really as simple as it looks. Cut out eyes, noses, and mouths out of magazines, glue magnets on the backs, and have fun! Some of the funniest faces come from using make up advertizements. It's also really funny if you can get a hold of a dog's mouth or something like that and add some pretty eyes. Get creative!
This was an experiment which hasn't yet proven to be successful, but is still very much in the process. The goal is to train the wild birds to eat out of our hands while we sit on our deck. The method is simple. We made two dummies; one that looks like John and one that looks like Clare. We dressed the dummies up, printed and laminated images of John's and Clare's faces to put on the dummies heads, and put the dummies on the deck. Then we doused the dummies and the railings with bird seed. At first there was nothing. But eventually we had lots of birds eating on the deck and hopping all over the dummies. Now we just have to pick a time either replace the dummies, or join them. I think the important thing is to do it when it's really cold out. The birds are much more bold then. The problem is that it's much less comfortable then. We'll keep updating on the progress of the bird feeder dummy.
We had a wonderful Christmas! I bought most of our gifts on Amazon. We actually didn't even go to the mall or any other store to shop, except the local craft store. After all the time spent on shopping online, the handmade gifts were everyones favorite. My plan for next year is to make most of the gifts I give to our kiddos.
I know many of my readers and customers have been waiting for this post. Here it is, finally! I have been busy with our new baby, but I am getting adjusted to our new schedule so I can get into blogging again.
I had a great pregnancy with much love and support from friends, family and all my customers. Thank you so much!
We were blessed with our baby boy on October 26th. He arrived a few days late, but he was well worth the wait. I wasn't sure if I wanted to share such an intimate experience with the online world, but since I am a natural birth and home birth advocate, I wanted to let everyone know how beautiful and enjoyable the labor process can be. I experienced another wonderful, natural labor at home. It was my 3rd home birth with the same midwife.
I didn't go into all the details, but here is my short version of my labor story with baby #4.
During a mild contraction, my water broke with a "pop" at about 3:30 am on the 26th. I was half asleep, so at first didn't think anything of it. I thought it was just the baby kicking. (He was a crazy kicker while in my belly) When I finally woke up a bit more, I realized it was something more than that. I raced to the bathroom, while yelling to my hubby "my water just broke!" Kind of like what you see on the movies. He woke up, well half way, and thought I said something about a robber in the house or something. He has never been a good morning person so it took him a while to get going, while I was pumped up, telling him everything that had to be done.
I called my midwife, she told me to lay down, relax and wait for the contractions to begin. I was so excited to meet my baby this was hard to do. I finally settled down and focused on my breath. All I could do was wait for the ctx to start. About 30 minutes later, they arrived. Before they got to intense, I was able to walk around and help John a bit with preparations. But that didn't last long. They became more intense so I got into a comfortable labor position and just breathed with them. After a bit, my 2 daughters came down from their room, on their own. My 6 year old had a bad cold and was crying about that. That bothered me, just like any little thing can during labor, if you let it. My mind shifted from calm and collected to "oh crap, I can't have the kids here" But I knew better. I had prepared for this day and knew that that mind set would do nothing for me but make the process longer and more painful. I quickly shifted back to peaceful thoughts and my breath. I must have sent peaceful vibes throughout the house because the girls calmed down and realized what was going on. We had prepared for this day a lot by watching labor videos, looking at pictures, and talking about the baby A LOT! They were so thrilled to meet this little guy, they were ready to help us out. And they did! They rubbed my back, got a cooler more comfortable outfit for me to wear, helped me keep a smile on my face, told me "I love you" and much more.
Soon my my midwife (lives in Northfield) and her apprentice (lives in Mankato) arrived. I just kept focused while everyone else, including my 2 daughters age 4 and 6, were preparing for the new life to arrive. My hubby was filling the birth pool (this ended up being a bigger task then we thought) my girls were fetching supplies for the midwife and rubbing my back. I was ready to push so it was then time to move into the tub. The tub felt great and instantly relaxed my body. After changing positions and pushing, ( I don't remember how long) my baby boy was soon born @ 6:05am. A couple minutes later, my 2.5 year old son, came down from his room, on his own. It is like the kids sensed what was going on and wanted to be a part of it. He was thrilled to see that he had a little brother! About 10 minutes later, I delivered my placenta and was ready to get out of the tub and cuddle on the couch with my new bundle of joy. I felt great, he nursed right away, everything about him was perfect. After the midwives cleaned up, (you would never know a baby was just delivered in my living room) we weighed and measured him: 9 lbs 4 oz. Much bigger than we had expected! That proves that someone as small as me : 4ft 9in can deliver a big baby naturally!
I would say this labor was close to perfect. I was surrounded by wonderful and caring people, my daughters were my little doulas, I was given lots of love and support, it was short (3:30-6am) and had no complications.
Even though this was my 4th baby, each time I still read and prepare for labor. You never know what you will experience. I wanted to share with you the books I read and would definitely recommend:
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond by Nancy Bardacke
My husband and I wanted to add some adventure into our lives so we decided to start taking day trips with our family once a week. Once we started, we found out that there are tons of places to visit all within a 30min-2 hour long drive. This is definitely doable with 3 kids and a 32 week pregnant momma! It gives us something to look forward to and helps motivate us to get more work done during the week.
One of our first day trips was a visit to Blue Mounds State Park located in Luverne, MN. It was about a 2.5 hour long drive. Our day started off in the lake. Since we went on a weekday, we had the lake to ourselves most of the time! John caught some minnows and the kids made little swimming holes for them. We also saw some turtles on the shore of the lake. After swimming, we went on a short hike to some small cliffs. First thing the kids started doing was climb up them. Our youngest, 2.5 yrs old, just climbed up and never even looked back and did not want any help! The girls climbed up and believe it or not, I did to, even with my pregnant belly. Something about climbing and being out in the wide open makes you feel so free and is a great place to relax and slow down.
We had to watch out for cactus, I was the only one who stepped on one. Probably because I was watching out for the kids!