Wednesday, January 25, 2012


In an attempt to keep the kids active during the winter, we signed them up for parent-child swim lessons. We are very fortunate that the area we moved to has a wonderful recreational department, and we plan to fully take advantage of it!

Swimming started last week, twice a week for forty minutes per session. The lessons were listed as two separate classes, however ages 0-3 were all put into the same group once we got there. This has advantages and disadvantages for our family. I was disappointed at first, because I was hoping that Jonah would learn basic skills such as floating, kicking, and putting his face in the water. I think that the older children in the class are not getting age appropriate water skills. However, since both kids are in the same class, Daryl and I can spend that time with the kids as a family. Although the sessions are basically just water play, the "instructor" goes between each parent-child couple to give suggestions on ways to strengthen certain skills.

Jonah loves to float on his back, holding a "noodle," and he loves chasing balls through the water. Evie is working on building confidence in the water, and not being afraid. She loves blowing bubbles and kicking!

These swim lessons are not only a great way for our family to spend evenings exercising together; they are offering a great outlet for the kids' energies, exposing them to new experiences, and providing wonderful sensory activities. I am hoping that these classes will evolve to teach them knowledge of water safety and potentially life saving skills of swimming and floating.

So although the temperatures are still chilly, just look for my family pool side!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Turkey Noodle Soup

Home made soup is the perfect dinner for a day like today! Last week, I roasted one of the turkeys that I got on sale after Thanksgiving. The turkey has provided us with meals for a week, and only cost $13. Today, I had just enough turkey left for this soup, and frozen turkey stock that I had made from a previous turkey. Measurements are estimated, especially the herbs and spices. Please adjust the recipe to your taste! You can also add celery and onions with the carrots; I just didn't have any today!

Turkey Noodle Soup:
8 cups turkey stock (or chicken stock)
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups-2 cups diced or shredded turkey
2 cups bowtie pasta (or whatever your shape preference)
1 tablespoon dried parsely (fresh would also be nice)
2 tsp  ground marjoram
2 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp ground mustard
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

In a stock pot, heat the oil and butter until butter is melted and the oil begins to shimmer. Add the carrots to the butter and oil; stir to coat them in oil as you add the herbs and spices, saving the salt. Heat the carrots, stirring often, until they are slightly tender. Add the stock  to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the pasta. Just before the pasta is finished cooking, add the turkey and salt. Boil until the pasta and carrots are tender.

I also added 1/4 cup of turkey fat from the pan that I had baked the turkey in, at the same time that I added the meat, and allowed it to melt into the stock. I think this really gave the soup a great boost in flavor. It was served with slices of home made bread.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Snowed In Fun: Indoor Snowball Fight

Jonah has been asking since October, to have a snowball fight. He wants to go sledding, build a snowman, go ice skating, and above all: have a snowball fight.
The problem is, we haven't had much snow this year. In November we were able to go outside and enjoy a light dusting; other than that, the only snow we have gotten has been in conjunction with temperatures in the teens. It is followed by warm weather which immediately reduces the beautiful snow into muddy slushy sludge.

So now that the snow is falling heavily outside of our window, and little voices are asking to go out, what do I do considering that it is 18 degrees F?

We have a snowball fight, of course! One that requires no gloves, no bulky coat that restricts movement, and it provides gross motor opportunities as well as tactile sensory integration!

Over the summer, I picked up some shower loofahs at the dollar store, 4 for $1. I bought twelve of them, specifically for this activity, so I made sure that they were at least partially white (they had no all-white loofahs.)

I did not show the loofahs to the kids, but instead, played up the idea that we are going to have a "snowball fight." I asked them if they wanted to have a snowball fight INside, because it was too cold to go OUTside. Of course the idea thrilled them. I brought them up to our play area, which is a nice spacious area with very little that can be knocked over or broken. If you do this in your living room, please remove any lamps, knick knacks, or pictures that could be broken.

I dumped the bag of "snowballs" onto the floor. The kids stared at me. They had no idea what to do with them! So I picked one up and (nicely) chucked it at Jonah's chest. "AAAHHHHH!!! I got YOU!!! Can you get ME???" Then the kids understood, and suddenly I was "under fire" being pelted with pretend snowballs. I ducked for cover under the train table. The kids giggled, waiting for me to come out. I grabbed the closest snowball I saw, leaped up and yelled "AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!" They squeeled and ran from me. Jonah, hiding behind a small brick structure on the wall, and Eve under the blankets on the futon.

We went back and forth in this way until I was too tired to continue. Everyone got a fair amount of exercise.The loofahs are one of the textures that Jonah is hesitant to touch, so I left the string loops on them, so he would have something to hold them with, but I also encouraged him to hold the whole loofah in order to aim and throw it properly.

This activity is great to get the wiggles out of any aged child. It promotes exercise, hand-eye coordination, social play, imaginative play, and tactile sensory integration. And the best part about it is, it does all of that without the kids even realizing that they are doing anything other than having a great time.