Archive for September, 2010

To view the previous post in this series, click here. ~K

All the joy and wonder of pregnancy is happening for the first  time and it marks the transition in your life between without-a-child and Mommy.  Whether you end up with one or five kids, this is the only “first.”  So be greedy, grab with both hands and shovel in as much of these wonderful experiences as you possibly can.  You’ll never have another first pregnancy!

Moments to treasure…

Take many opportunities to laze around and do nothing. Such a luxury will be scarce for many years to come!

The ability to rest when you need to and sleep in when you can.  If another pregnancy is in your future, it’s unlikely that you’ll have the freedom to pamper yourself like you can now. (You’ll be taking care of another little one!) 

The opportunity to spend quality, uninterrupted time with your husband.  See above.

The physical changes.  Some are surprising, some are fun, and some may have you groping for your phone in the middle of the night to call your doctor. Still others may have you and your husband rolling on the floor with laughter. You might feel kind of strange sometimes or you might feel perfectly normal for nine months (except for all the internal gymnastics and increased waist line) or you might feel like that stretchy super hero mom in The Incredibles! Whatever you feel, treasure it. It’s all a sign that a life is growing in you–for the very first time!

All the fussing and attention you receive.  When I was pregnant with my first child, a friend gave me this advice and predicted, good-naturedly, “you’ll never be fussed over like this again!”  She was right!  While friends, family and even strangers  shared our joy and anticipation of the next three children, I was never again the focus of so much attention as I was during that  first pregnancy. Soak it up!

The extra curves.  I think this is self-explanatory! If not, ask your husband.

I can’t wait to hear about what you enjoy the most as your baby grows!




Read Full Post »

We keep it simple.  I plan challenging physical activities, or the kids participate in organized, professionally directed programs.  Sometimes we do both!

A fun playground: climbing, swinging, sliding, running, rope ladders, balancing bars...the physical challenges are enough to keep them moving for at least an hour.

Playgrounds are a favorite P.E. location.  If the big kids get weary of their own play, I use the equipment to create obstacle courses and time them using the stop watch on my iPhone.  The young one is never bored!


Nature preserves are another favorite location.  Opportunities for physical challenges abound and the kids are eager to find them! 

Balancing Act: This kept them busy for quite some time, first walking then running then pretending to sword fight while running...

Of course, these locations have the added bonus of providing an outdoor classroom!  Sometimes I plan a science lesson or nature study to coincide with a good walk through the preserve.


In terms of organized sports, our kids have participated in indoor soccer, wrestling and dance.  But currently, I am directing their P.E. activities and having a great deal of fun doing so!  (Hint:  it’s even more fun if you participate!)  I’ll post a follow-up soon in which I will detail our P.E. plan for this semester.

Moving right along,


Read Full Post »


Read Full Post »

Several months ago a friend asked us to advise him on preparing his toddler and infant for reading.  My husband, who has many years of experience as a teacher and in the field of educational research and assessment,  responded first.  You can read what he had to say below.  I’ll post my response next week.  Happy reading!  ~K
I know K will answer you in full pretty soon.  I will offer a theoretical perspective that will give background to the practices K will share with you.   Reading proficiency has been well-researched; that research has revealed some important characteristics of a well-developed reader.
1.  Reading is a decoding skill.  The “key” to reading is to “crack the code” so to speak.  This means that the young reader is figuring out how to separate and combine sounds.
2.  Since the organization of sound is imperative to good reading, a child who “listens” to reading typically turns into a good reader. Therefore, part of (our family) reading program is to read to our children before they can read.  This excercise does two things: (1) it familiarizes the developing mind to the sounds of words and (2) it models to the developing child that reading is valued behaviour in the home.  Our kids see us reading all the time.  They have picked up this habit.
3.  Vocabulary is increased when children make up and create words.  For example, let’s say your child hears you read a simple Dr. Seuss book that repeats a rhyming sound:  “the cat in the hat picked up a fat bat to hit a rat”.    With the repetition of the “__at” sound the child will mimick and make up words…some that are real words others that are not.  For example, you will hear, “nat, tat, gat, vat, sat, mat”.  This should be encouraged because it is essential to the decoding process.
There is more I can share when your children get older but the essentials from birth to about 4 years are listening to reading and mimicking reading.   You may have noticed your 2-year old pick up a book and pretend to read…this is a healthy sign of good reading development.   2 may be a little too young, but you will see it as she gets closer to 3.  Our 3 year old can’t read but she pretends to by opening a book and telling a story.
K will probably mention a tv series called “Between the Lions”. http://www.pbs.org/parents/lions/program/   This educational show on PBS does a very good job of utilizing current research on developing young readers.
Also, here are a couple of titles about the research:
Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children
by Susan B. Nueman, Carol Copple, and Sue Bredekamp (National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2000)

Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children’s Reading Success
by M. Susan Burns, Peg Griffin and Catherine E. Snow (Eds.) (National Academy Press, 1999)

Hope this research angle provides a good supplement to K’s response.
You  can read Part 2, my response, here. ~K

Read Full Post »

Morning Meditation

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,

for I have put my trust in you.

Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.

Psalm 143:8 (NIV)

Read Full Post »

I could eat these several times a week!

 I love beans.  I like them well-seasoned and:

  • plain
  • with french bread
  • with tortillas
  • with rice
  • with a “Rustic Italian Loaf”  (is there a “Sophisticated” or “Metropolitan” Italian Loaf out there?)
  • with cheeses, chutneys, salsas, sour cream, plain Greek-style yogurt, chow-chow, chopped jalapeno, chopped onion, crumbled bacon…
  • with cornbread
  • in soup

Beans are good!  If you like them too, try A Simple Pot of Beans to get started.  From there you can dress them up to your liking, make chili, vegetarian tacos and taco salad, soup, refried beans, or as the starting point for this easy, delicious soup.

Creamy Bean and Vegetable Soup

  • 1 Recipe A Simple Pot of Beans
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream (optional; adds a little bit of richness and makes it extra-delicious, but you can leave it out for a vegan and/or lactose-free option)


Prepare A Simple Pot of Beans, retaining the cooked carrots and garlic at the end of the cooking time.

Place enough cooked beans and broth in a blender to equal 2 cups.  Add the carrots, garlic and cream.  (If not using cream, add about a half-cup more of cooking liquid.)  Puree the mixture, adding broth as necessary to achieve a smooth texture.  Return puree to the pot of beans and heat mixture on low until heated through, careful not to boil.

Garnish with slight swirls of cream and chopped green onion.

Happy cooking,


Read Full Post »

NOTE:  When I originally posted this recipe, the soaking and cooking information was specific to the beans I used in the pictured soup.  This was a mistake. Dried beans may vary in the time they require for both soaking and cooking.  Packaged dried beans usually include these specific directions, but if not, or if you purchase beans in bulk, please consult this excellent site to determine the best soaking and cooking times for your beans.  I am deeply sorry if your Simple Pot of Beans was ruined due to my inadequate directions. ~K  

Once I described to my friend a favorite meal of my Mom’s pinto beans.  She laughed and called me a country-girl!  It was the first time I realized that not everyone thinks that a simple meal of deliciously seasoned beans is near perfection.   If you do, however, you might appreciate this recipe.  It’s simple, inexpensive and the results are delicious and versatile.  

A Simple Pot of Beans  

  • 1 lb dried beans (white, pinto, black, etc.)
  • 3 stalks of celery; if possible, include the leaves
  • 3 large carrots, quartered
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 good-sized cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-4 cups of  low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt, to taste
  • Optional toppings:  sour cream, plain yogurt (I love Fage Greek-style, 2%), shredded cheese, salsas, chutneys, chopped onions, crumbled bacon…


Thoroughly rinse beans, checking for bits of dirt, or even small pebbles.  Place beans in a large soup pot or dutch oven and cover with cold water.  Leave the beans to soak overnight.  In the morning, drain the beans and rinse once again.   

Place beans back into pot and cover with water up to one inch past the top of the beans.  Add the remaining ingredients through the bay leaf.  Add two cups of stock if additional flavor is desired (recommended, but not necessary).   

Bring beans to a low boil, then cover, with the lid slightly tilted, and reduce heat to medium low so that beans remain at a simmer.  Add additional stock or water as necessary to keep beans covered by about an inch of water.   

I try to fish out all of the peppercorns as well, but I usually miss a few. The cooking time is long enough to elminate their biting heat, but I'm always concerned that someone will catch a fiery one!

For the exact cooking time, check the package of beans, or consult this site which lists soaking and cooking times for all varieties of dried beans  

Remove garlic, vegetables and bay leaf from pot.  The carrots and garlic can be retained and pureed with some of the beans for this soup.  If needed, season with salt to taste.    

Add as many toppings as you like or eat them unadorned.  I strongly suggest a side of your favorite bread for a simple, delicious, hearty meal!  

NOTE:  These beans keep quite well in refrigerator and freezer.  I like to store some away to use with Taco Salad and Chili at another time.  

Happy Eating!  


Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »