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Archive for June, 2012

One of our annual traditions that kicks off our summer is to fill out our reading logs for the Seattle Public Library. Once the kids have read ten books (or listened to, or have had someone else read to them) they earn a free book that they choose from a box of new books at the library.

We narrowed down Ethan and Sean’s list to the ten most popular books from the huge amount of books they have had read to them. The program started earlier in June and finishes on August 1st, however we read a lot at our house so I narrowed down the list for the boys by choosing ten favorite books that we’ve been reading over and over for the last few weeks.

Ethan and Sean’s Reading Logs (they are identical):
I Stink by Kate and Jim McMullan
I’m Big by Kate and Jim McMullan
I’m Fast by Kate and Jim McMullan
I’m Dirty by Kate and Jim McMullan
The Three Little Pigs by Bernadette Watts
C is for Caboose by Traci Todd and Sara Gillingham
The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires
Seven Little Mice Go to School by Haruo Yamashita and Kazuo Iwamura
Seven Little Mice Have Fun on the Ice by Haruo Yamashita and Kazuo Iwamura
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld

Ethan and Sean choosing their new books (spot the Glittersweet bag on location!)

Ashley has discovered Rick Riordan. Actually she has known about him for a while but James and I read the Percy Jackson series and decided to have her wait until now to read the books. We have a feel for what books might cause her trouble sleeping and this series fell into that category. However, she is delighted that we have consented now and is rereading and rereading to her heart’s content 🙂

Ashley’s Reading Log
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan
The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
Diary of a Wimpy Kid:Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth by Jeff Kinney
Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson

Caitlin is currently rereading the ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ books. Both she and Ashley read the series last summer on our 5,000 mile road trip to Colorado and back (they read a lot of books that trip!). She also chose a book for her log by Owen Paul Lewis. Her school brings authors to school to encourage their young authors and she seemed impressed by this one. She also included another book that was read to her in school by her teacher (Hank the Cowdog). I love that books that are read to her still have a strong enough impact to warrant a place on her log. Last on her list, she chose two books from her brothers’ logs that she had read to them. My heart has ripples of warmth as I think of such sibling ‘love through reading’.

Caitlin’s Reading Log
A Series of Unfortunate Events 1: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
A Series of Unfortunate Events 2: The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket
A Series of Unfortunate Events 3: The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket
A Series of Unfortunate Events 4: The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket
A Series of Unfortunate Events 5: The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules by Jeff Kinney
Davy’s Dream by Owen Paul Lewis
Hank the Cowdog: The Case of the Raging Rotweiler by John R. Erikson
Seven Little Mice Go to School by Haruo Yamashita and Kazuo Iwamura
Seven Little Mice Have Fun on the Ice by Haruo Yamashita and Kazuo Iwanura

After the library we took our books to the nearby park and enjoyed the sun, which we haven’t seen much of yet this summer!

Ashley was thrilled to choose The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan as her free book. She had borrowed the copy she read and now she has her own. Caitlin chose Storm Runners (my little thrill seeker-I wonder if it was the cover that captured her attention?)

Ethan was so excited that he could have Sheep in a Jeep. We have borrowed this from the library, along with Duck in the Truck by the same author (which paralleled my own feelings a while back). He loves books with vehicles and this has fun rhyming story. As for Sean’s choice, well he was practicing the art of saying no to every book he looked at from the book box. He did however spend a lot of time looking at the smurf book. Given that I loved the smurfs when I was younger and would be happy to read this over and over, I made and executive decision and we chose this one 🙂

Happy summer reading everyone! What are you reading this summer? Any recommendations in case we run out of books???

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Image Source: Babygadget

I love the summer. Not because of the weather, but because of the time I have with my children, unencumbered by school routines. The more experienced I become at the whole mothering business the more I enjoy summers with my children 🙂

I also love making lists! So while I was away at MaryJames Farm a couple of weeks ago I wrote a whole bunch of lists of things I’d like to do over the summer. These are not absolute have-to-do lists, but more a way of keeping track of my ideas of fun things that I, and my family, might enjoy.

Here are the titles of my summer ‘bucket’ lists:

Summer Parks/Playgrounds

Summer Tiny Pleasures

Summer Crafts for Kids

Summer Crafts with Kids

Summer Art Projects

Summer Movies

Summer Breakfasts

Summer Lunches

Summer Snacks

Summer Dinners

Summer Desserts

Summer Baking

Wow! As I write them in a list I see I have a lot of buckets 🙂 But you know, with having a large family and limited thinking/planning time on my hands writing ideas down helps me actually get around to the fun stuff.

I have a little notebook for writing ideas, lists, phone numbers, book recommendations, and other useful information and try to keep it (and a pen!) near me both at home and when I go out. It’s like a little extension of my brain. Whenever I feel a little overwhelmed or bogged down by the day-to-day routine of jobs it helps to take a peek in my notebook, review my lists and pick out something fun to do.

If I get a chance I’ll share some of the details of these summer lists with you over the summer.

Do you have a summer bucket list? I’d love to hear about it 🙂 

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Each week I share my weekly menu plan with you as I find menu planning and using my menu board very helpful to me and the rest of the family during the week. Having a plan, even if it changes over the course of the week, helps keep late afternoon chaos low, maintains a well-fed crew and keeps food bills and food waste low. I find that if I write the list of dinners for the week on it I can glance at it quickly during the day and remember what I need to do for dinner prep. James and the girls like to look at the board to get a feel for what to expect for the week ahead (both to anticipate and steel themselves depending on whether the meal is a favorite or not!)

Note: Meals are subject to change at the chef’s discretion or whim.

I didn’t post last week (or the week before) because I had a brief week here in Seattle a couple of weeks ago. I prepared three dinners then took a road trip on Thursday to MaryJanes Farm in Moscow, Idaho. My friend Barb and I experienced four beautiful days glamping in the Palouse. Gorgeous countryside! It was my first time staying in Idaho (we drove through on our way to Glacier National Park last summer) and I really loved the area.

So, dinner wise I only needed to menu plan for three days and James did an excellent job of taking care of the rest. It certainly helps to have done the bulk of the food shopping for the summer 🙂

Last week was a very full week. On the heels of a trip to Anacortes with my mother-in-law to visit my friend Pauline, we had the general busyness that the last week of school entails.

This week is our first week of summer vacation, though, except for having the girls home from school, you couldn’t tell that by the weather here in Seattle. It poured rain on the last day of school on Friday and has been cold and showery since. I love that my garden is being watered by Mother Nature and not me, and I would also like to have a little more sun for some consistent outdoor time with the children.

Despite the un-summer like conditions here, summer dinner prep and cooking continue. Below is one week of meals from our summer rotation of easy meals:

Monday
Copper river salmon (picked up in Anacortes) baked in basil butter, steamed rice, corn and brussel sprouts

Tuesday
Eggs, Home Fried Potatoes, Fruit and Veggie Smoothie

Wednesday
Chicken Garlic Alfredo, Green Beans, Italian Pugliese Bread,

Thursday
Massaman Curry, Rice, Normandy Veggies (Broccoli, Cauliflower, Yellow & Orange Carrots)

Friday
Turkey Meatball Marinara, Artisan Bread (type TBD), Broccoli

Saturday
Chicken Rogan Josh, Rice, Sauteed Zuccini & Red Peppers

Sunday
Shrimp & Shallot Linguini, Avocado, Green Beans & Julienne Carrots

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Each week I share my weekly menu plan with you as I find menu planning and using my menu board very helpful to me and the rest of the family during the week. Having a plan, even if it changes over the course of the week, helps keep late afternoon chaos low, maintains a well-fed crew and keeps food bills and food waste low. I find that if I write the list of dinners for the week on it I can glance at it quickly during the day and remember what I need to do for dinner prep. James and the girls like to look at the board to get a feel for what to expect for the week ahead (both to anticipate and steel themselves depending on whether the meal is a favorite or not!)

Note: Meals are subject to change at the chef’s discretion or whim.

Okay, so I haven’t posted a menu plan since March 12th!!! But we have eaten since then, I promise 🙂 I went through a spell of having little time to blog and then of having no will to plan because I had too much to do and no desire to do it! I also had no real desire to menu plan, cook or shop. Fortunately I had a freezer full of food from my ongoing batch cooking. I just mentally put together a week’s menu each week and just altered it as I felt like it. It worked very well. A great reason to keep a stock of food in the freezer-it keeps you fed when your’re fed up 🙂

So now we’ve eaten down a lot of our “winter” freezer and I have started to feel better after the taking some time off. Another plus is that there was plenty of room for the freezer to stock up for the summer. We had a little unexpected heat wave here in Seattle in the middle of May and I remember that I really don’t like to use the oven when it’s hot outside. So two weeks ago I felt terrified by the summer heat to come  inspired  to plan our summer menus.

I picked 14 meals that have some inherent flexibility and have almost finished the planning/stock up of ingredients for all our summer meals through the first couple of weeks of school. I want to avoid grocery shopping with four children as much as possible during the summer vacation. So this will leave us with just quick pit stops for staples such as milk, bread and fresh produce (at least that’s the hope).

Below is one week of meals from our summer rotation of easy meals:

Monday
Rotisserie Chicken, Baked Potatoes, Green Beans &  Baby Peas

Tuesday
Breaded Fish, Buttered Rotelle Pasta, Brussel Sprouts, Carrots and Corn

Wednesday
Massaman Curry, Rice, Broccoli, Cauliflower & Carrots

Thursday
Spaghetti Carbonara, Steamed Asparagus and Carrots

Friday
Chicken Cordon Bleu, Rice, Baby Peas & Corn

Saturday
I will be away for the night, so I imagine James will be tending to dinner.

Sunday
James will be on dinner duty again as I have spot at a dessert party that I bought at our school auction. So I will be watching the sunset over the Olympic Mountains with a drink, dessert and the good company of other mothers (and I think one father) and teachers from our school 🙂

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It’s been a month since my last post when I shared how I was feeling little motivation to get things done and yet was actually getting things done! Well, based on a suggestion from Aunt Peaches, I decided to watch Hoarders. It was a tip offered to help get you motivated to clean house. I had never seen an episode of the show but had heard about it. I watched an episode and I came away feeling sad for the 3 million people who (according to the show) live with chronic hoarding.

I was also somewhat chastened about my complaint that I have a ton of stuff in my craft room to go through. I have some storage projects to get to but they are not problems or issues or dangers. I have boxes of school papers to go through and weed out what to keep/scan/recycle, but they are not mounds of undefined stuff blocking my home and creating chaos for myself and loved ones.

Earlier this year I noticed that I have a tendency to hang on to product boxes and jars. The boxes always seemed like a good idea to keep in case I needed information off of them or wanted to pass on the item to someone else. The jars I love to use for kitchen and other storage and also I have the idea of using them for gifts.

I went through the boxes at the start of the year and got rid of them. Looking at the photo now with new eyes after watching hoarders, I realize that the little pile of boxes is nothing. A few weeks ago I took photographs of packaging that I thought I might need for future reference. Now I have the information but not the clutter.

I also have tangible projects that don’t involve stuff  but prove to be challenging because I have little leisure time to engage in them. That’s a juggling of priorities, needs and wants while caring for a young and growing family of four children. Overall I feel like I had a good reality check this morning.

However, there were some nuggets in the episode of Hoarders that I watched and I will be pondering them as I continue to handle the stuff that comes through our home. I will be paying attention the overvaluing of the smallest things when deciding what to keep belonging to my children. The more I keep the more likely I will lose sight of the true treasures amongst the trash. When we hang onto a lot of stuff, items that seem to make no sense I will look to see how the hoarded stuff may be acting as armor. It protects us emotionally from dealing with something we aren’t ready to handle.

One of the psychologists on the show stated that “the typical pattern to hoarding is “I’ll get to it later”, but later never comes.” I’m going to see if I can hold onto that statement as I continue to make progress in Project Paperless. Either create the ‘later’ or let the item go straight away.

If you are reading this and you have difficulty with hoarding, please be gentle with your self judgments, and please seek some support. You are not as alone with this issue as you may have thought.

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