Monday, August 25, 2014

Big Girl Bed!

Our little Miss Olivia has finally made the jump to a big girl bed!  A few weeks ago we took the front of her crib off, but she quickly requested that it be put back on.  The other day we tried again.  I moved her little playhouse and all her toys that used to be in the sun room into her bedroom.  I figured with the disruption of new things in her room, now might be the time to just change it all up on her.  She's done well, except that she keeps falling out of bed at every nap time and every night, at LEAST once.  The other kids all fell out of the toddler bed, but I don't remember it being this frequent.  SO, I wanted to share something that I found online with you.  I know that other people also have a "convertible" crib but don't have the toddler bed rail.  You can't use a regular bed guard rail with a crib because the mattress is too light to weigh it down and it's too big for the smaller mattress size.  I found this guy at diapers.com and Target.com.  I, of course, ordered from Target because it counted for my daily trip to Target for yesterday.  (Yes, I've already been to Target today.  If you were in the store around noon I'm sure you heard Vince throwing a fit.  I wish I were kidding, but I'm pretty sure it's an accurate assessment of the volume of his tantrum.)



I haven't gotten it in the mail yet, but it got good reviews.  Click here for the link at Target.  I was going to post a picture, but...it's a bed guard.  And I have to go get Caden from school to get fitted for yet another retainer.  Jack just LOVES these $80 chew toys.  I however, am not loving it so much.



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Recipe Friday: Shitake Lettuce Cups

I LOVE this recipe!  This was one of the first recipes I wanted to try for Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martin.  As I've said before, I'm a big fan of Asian cooking and these were right up my alley.  They were pretty easy to make, once you did all the chopping.  The ingredient list is kind of long, but I didn't think there was anything too exotic.  The kids (except Caden) were intrigued to try them because of the lettuce cup "wrapper".  I cut the recipe in half and, sadly, didn't have a bite left over for lunch the next day! (I also omitted the Sriracha hot sauce because I didn't have any and I didn't want it to be too spice for Livvy.)

Reading At Bedtime

Well, last night was the first night of "school nights".  We showered everyone early and then started the bedtime routine.  However, I realized that our bedtime routine isn't quite as routine as it should be.  I did manage to get Olivia and Ellie down pretty early, Vince doesn't really matter because he doesn't start school for another few weeks but Caden...Oh, Caden.  Bedtime last night was 7:30.  All kids were in bed at 7:30.  At 10:30 Caden was still awake.  We hadn't battled him like this all summer!  I think he was anxious about going to school, or just wanted to prolong the inevitable as long as possible and honestly had trouble falling asleep.  I also think he's not really into this series of books that he's currently reading, since for the last few weeks he's been in bed, reading for a long time, but at least he's in bed and resting.  He would turn out the light at a reasonable time and just doze off all summer long!  Last night reminded me how it is during the school year.  So while they were all asleep and Caden was sneaking his iPod to bed (something he also ceased to do during the summer) I researched sleep on the interwebs.  I found lots of great information, most importantly confirming my thought that putting all kids to bed at the same time was not age appropriate for all of them.  There was just no way that Caden, at 9, needs the same bedtime as Olivia, at 2.  I was correct.  I found that Caden and Ellie need between 10-11 hours of sleep,  Vince needs 11-13 and little Miss Olivia needs between 12-14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period (this accounts for naps).  Since she seems to be the only one that's really doing OK with the current bedtime schedule, I figured I'd just keep her on the long end of that and put her to bed with Vince.  I also read that 1/2 hour before you want kids to be in bed asleep, you should start the bedtime routine.  This is where I ran into trouble.  So I searched for school age bedtime routines.  I feel like we just hose them off, brush teeth then off to bed.  What  I read seemed to say that they need more time to wind down, which I totally see with the older 3.  I also read some really good arguments for spreading out bedtimes because it allows you as a parent to focus on each kid individually.  I like this idea.  I feel like having 4 of them kind of turns them into sheep sometimes and I'm just herding them.  The best thing I read talked about reading to your kids, even if they can read themselves.  I like this idea too.  I said before that I wanted to read to them more, but this idea might actually work.  They talked about how this quite alone time with just the two of you can increase communication between you and your child now which will also build a better foundation for the teen years (something that I worry about with Caden and Ellie both.)
Ellie also gave me a fantastic idea last night.  I told her she had to be in bed.  She could read a book if she wanted, but she had to be in bed.  The book she choose as a fairy puzzle book.  On page has a story about the fairy, the other page is a wooden puzzle.  She placed it all out on her bed and quietly and calmly put the puzzle together.  When I came in to check that she wasn't out of bed playing or whatever it is that she's doing in there when she's supposed to be asleep, I realized she was really tired and just needed help with the last few pieces.  I helped her and she pulled up the covers and was asleep in minutes.  PUZZLES!  This has the potential to be a miracle for Caden!  I'm thinking that while I'm showering the younger kids and getting them ready for bed, Caden will have puzzle time.  After that he can shower, brush teeth then read in bed for awhile.  Since he'll be staying up (according to my new bedtime time table) an hour longer than the two little ones, I'll have plenty of time to read with him.  I love this idea because despite the fact that he's a fantastic reader, I'm always amazed at the speed at which he can read.  It makes me suspicious that he's not REALLY reading carefully or that he's skimming certain parts.  I can also check his comprehension as we read together.  Plus, I get to read what he's reading, learning what his current interests are and connect with him a little more.  Ellie and I read frequently because she's at that stage where she's pretty independent but still needs help.  We partner read a lot (she reads a page and I read the next) and we both enjoy this.  Of course Vince and Olivia need to be read to, but they're often hurried off to bed because we're trying to get everyone else in bed as well.  If the older two are puzzling, (Ellie can probably just play quietly in her room) this will give Evan and I each one kid to read with and we can divide and conquer.  This is SO important for Olivia because I see her love of books and it reminds me of Caden at that age.  Ellie and Vince never would sit still like Caden and Olivia do for books.  She'll sit with you forever if you read to her.  She has her favorite books that she wants to read over and over and over again.  Giving her my time like that is SO important in her development!  Sesame Street tells me about the First Three Year and how important it is to read with young children. If you can't trust furry, friendly monsters,  who can you trust?!

I'm excited to give this new bedtime routine a try.  It will probably go well because it's new and novel so they'll be inclined to go along with it well, but hopefully, the routine will take over.  Once it becomes "just what we do" hopefully bedtime will become less of a battle and more of a time for Evan and I to spend some quality time with each of the kids.

**I tweeted the articles that I read last night that helped me create my bedtime routine.

First Day Picture:
Vince was crabby--someone needs a better bedtime routine!


Missing one,  but a great pic of the other three!


Monday, August 11, 2014

9 More Days: Time to Start Thinking School and School Lunches

WOW!  When I started looking at my Summer Bucket List and began working hard to cross things off, I didn't realize that we'd be down into single digits so soon!  Only 9 more days left of summer vacation!  At this point, I'm not excited.  I talked to Vince last night and asked him if he was going to miss his brother and sister.  He was non-committal, but he was also in a bad mood and angry at the world.  It was a rip-you-sheets-off-the-bed kind of night.  (I'm not sure why he does this because it really only affects him, but whatever.  If that's as destructive as he gets, fine by me.)  I know Olivia will miss them and I will for sure.  The good news is that we'll soon be back full time when we go on vacation a few weeks after school starts (yes, I take them out of school, but I believe that sometimes life experiences are just as important as school.  Talking about physics is important, but actually SEEING how the kite flies is even better.  Learning about high tide and low tide is great, but seeing it in action is pretty amazing.  Plus, living with their grandparents and uncles for a week is important too. )

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Summer Bucket List

It's almost over!  For some reason the end of summer always sneaks up on me.  It's the 4th of July and half of the summer is still ahead and then all of a sudden it's time to start buying school supplies and  our days of sleeping in are over.  So as the summer winds down, I realize that all those things I told the kids we would do this summer need to get done.  It's time to start checking items off the summer bucket list.  So far we've gone to The McKinley Museum, the McKinley Monument and the Canton Children's Garden.  All Ellie has wanted to do this summer is go swimming at Dogwood pool.  I'm cheap and don't want to pay to go to Dogwood unless we're going to spend a full day there and so far, there hasn't been a day that's been nice enough when we don't have anything planned.  Sunday looks like the day though, which is bad because I have a feeling there will be lots of people trying to squeeze one more pool day out of summer on Sunday too.  We also have Baylor Beach passes we got last fall which we've never used. Gotta get there as well.  We have sleepovers that we need to plan and playdates that need to be set, all of the things I promised we'd do back in June and never got around to actually putting into the planning stage.

Yesterday we were at the store and a woman asked the kids if they were ready to go back to school.  Caden, of course, was a quick "No Way!"  but Ellie was quiet for a minute.  I don't think it had occurred to her that it was time to start thinking about that.  She's not one of those kids that LOVES school, but she doesn't hate it either.  I was interested to hear what she had to say.  I think once the seed has been planted and she gets these back to school shoes she's been thinking about she'll start to get in the back-to-school mindset.  Caden, on the other hand, will probably never be ready to go back.  He much prefers the pace of home, where he has devices close at hand all the time.  Vince likes school, but he's not starting until the second week of September, after our vacation, which therefore is a million years away in my mind.  Olivia I think will have the hardest time with back to school. She's used to having lots of people to help her and entertain her.  When everyone leaves and it's just her and I for 2 1/2 hours each morning and then just her and Vince in the afternoon, I think she's going to be bored and she's going to miss her biggest siblings.  Vince too, will feel the void they'll leave.  And me?  I'm not one of those moms

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cloth Napkins

I was going to do a blog about running, but I realized that I'm beginning to get a little obsessive about the whole running thing and I thought I'd spare you all the details of my quest to run 13.1 miles.  You're welcome.

Instead, I've decided to do a blog on how much I love cloth napkins.  YEARS ago I started using cloth napkins.  I thought for sure it would be really hard to do with two little kids (yes, two.  It was that long ago) but I was really surprised how much easier it is.  Recently I became the owner of a TON of paper napkins.  I thought I'd give the cloth napkins a rest and give paper another try.  I HATE it!  The kids hate it.  They tear and fall apart.  Each kid goes through at least two per meal.  Jack steals them and tears them to shreds all over the house.  (Well, I guess there is ONE fan of paper napkins in our house.)  They take up a ton of room.  My cloth on the other hand,

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Recipe Friday: Whole Wheat Couscous

I LOVE this recipe!  I'm a big fan of couscous in general, not only because it's good, but also because it's fast!  This recipe I got from my mom, who got it from Weight Watchers.  It's a great dish to take to a covered dish or family gathering.  ( Know this because my mom brought it to a family get together and that's how I first tried it!)  It's got a lot of flavor and is pretty easy to assemble.

Done with Cloth Diapers

Well, it's over.  My long, long, long relationship with cloth diapers is over.  Olivia has taken an interest in potty training and while I don't think she's going to be fully trained for awhile, I found that cloth diapers are REALLY hindering her ability to train.  She LOVES to change her clothes (and also show everyone her butt--this she gets from her brother) and she can take her training pants on and off by herself, but the diapers really trip her up.  SO, we've moved from diapers to training pants.  There are, of course, cloth training pants and I'd LOVE to use those, but I'm not really willing to spend that much money on something she'll (hopefully) only wear for a few months.  I DO love the Gerber training pants for little ones.  They're just an extra layer of fabric for when they're *almost* there, but not really what we need right now.

I was a little sad to say goodbye to the cloth.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Doggone North Canton

If you live in the North Canton area, I hope you've seen the signs for the Multi Rescue Dog Adoption and Wellness fair that will be held at Witwer Park on August 9th from 10am-2pm.  I have and, of course, I'm interested in anything with DOG in the title.  My favorite rescue (despite the fact that they gave me my horrible little JackJack), Save A Mom Pregnant Dog Rescue will be there and I always love to go see the dogs they have (if you're in the market for a puppy they currently have at least 3, maybe 4 litters that will be available soon.)   I decided to do a little blog post about the Adoption Fair and when  I Googled it to get more info I unearthed a goldmine!  I'm SO SUPER EXCITED about this!  This fair is actually the grand finale to a week of Dog activities.  I should have know, the North Canton Public Library is a big sponsor, hosting activities all week in support of this event.  (In case you didn't know the employees of the NCPL (well, the Children's Department at least) are dog people. I KNEW there was a reason I loved that place so much!)  There are also events sponsored by the YMCA and a Chipotle Fundraiser.  The whole promotion is organized by Pawsitive Ohio.  I'd never heard of this organization so I checked out their website.  SO COOL!  This is a non-profit organization that works for shelters and rescue groups in NE Ohio.  From their website:

About Pawsitive Ohio

Pawsitive Ohio is a 501c3, non-profit organization with the goal to to be a catalyst for change and a conduit for the various animal welfare groups in Ohio. We will be an advocate for the amazing shelters, rescues and their volunteers in this area—moving forward and working together to end the deaths of homeless dogs in Northeast Ohio.
Our focus will be raising funds to create low-cost spay/neuter opportunities, facilitating comprehensive adoption events, supporting pet retention and overall pet parent education, to create a community in which no dog has to die in a shelter simply for being unwanted.

HOW awesome!?!?!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this concept!  I'm so excited to help with this week's events!  There's a place on their website (scroll all the way down) where you can pledge to do various things this week in support of Doggone North Canton, both for individuals and businesses.  Many of them cost nothing (give my dog an extra walk, belly rubs or cookies).   Here's the complete list of their activities for the week:

Doggone North Canton

A Week Long Promotion Dedicated to Dogs and the People Who Love Them:
it’s time to come together to celebrate, and advocate for, man’s best friend during Doggone North Canton, August 3-9, 2014.
Sunday, August 3, at 1 p.m.
Downtown North CantonDowntown Dog Walk (a program of the North Canton YMCA)
Dogs are the best exercise companions, and the North Canton YMCA encourages you to complete a one-mile group dog walk today! The group will meet in Bitzer Park and walk south toward Ro’s Custard Creations, where $1 doggie cones will be offered. Human and dog watering stations will be provided at participating partner businesses along the way. Please keep your dog leashed and keep in mind that not all dogs are social with other dogs.
Monday, August 4 from 6-7 p.m.
North Canton Public LibraryAdult Program: Paws & Prayers will explain how to get involved in fostering a rescue dog, including supplies, contacts and expectations. You might be surprised how easy it is! Register beginning July 21 at ncantonlibrary.org.
Tuesday, August 5 from 6:30-7:30 p.m.
North Canton Public LibraryChildren‘s Program: Read to Sarge, the Tail-Wagging Tutor. Call 330.499.4712 x318 to sign-up for a ten-minute reading session with Sarge the Golden Retriever (adopted from GRIN).
Wednesday, August 6 from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Blackening Spice

I usually do a recipe on Friday, but I think tomorrow's going to be a little busy so I'm doing one today.  I know you're probably sick of hearing about my new obsession, Vegan Cooking for Carnivores, but this was a spice that I tried last night on my sautéed tofu and I thought it would be great to share.  It's was really good on the tofu (I cubed it, sautéed it and then put it on a salad) but it would be really good on meat as well (probably chicken would be best).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review of Vegan Recipe

A few days ago I blogged about a Vegan cookbook, Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martin.  My brother in law raved about the Red Beans and Rice recipe and I thought I'd give it a try, so last night for dinner that's what I made--for everyone.  I decided that I wasn't going to make all these recipes for me, since they're supposed to be so similar you won't miss the meat.  Well, for me, this was a very different meal than I've had in a long time.  It was very hearty and filling and the flavors were something I can't recall eating since I've stopped eating meat.  It really WAS like eating meat.  I like the fact that Chef Roberto tells you which brands to buy because this vegan sausage was really very good.  Evan liked it as well.  He disagreed that it was filling and thought it would have worked better as a side (and to be honest, in the future I'd probably make it more as a side) but he thought it was good.  Now, let me just try to explain that Evan giving it praise is high praise indeed.  Anything "vegan" or "vegetarian"  he's usually a pretty tough critic, so I was ready for him to turn his nose up at the vegan sausage in this recipe, but no.  The kids didn't like it, but I would have expected that.  It's not something that I would have normally chosen to prepare, and honestly, probably would have been one of the last few recipes I picked to make from this cookbook (mine came in the mail the   other day!) but since my brother in law and the cookbook author both said it was the best in the book, I thought I'd try it first.  SO, I'll be returning the copy to the North Canton Public Library (this link should take you directly to the book in the catalog so you can put it on reserve) so check it out!  It's so  much fun to find a cookbook that has lots of new ideas to try!  I'm so sick of making nachos, breakfast-for-dinner and spaghetti (the kids requests EVERY TIME I ask them what they want for dinner) and there are a lot of "normal" recipes I've kind of missed over the last 5 years.  It will also be good for Olivia, who's never tried some of these flavors since she's always been a vegetarian.

Also, a note about basmati rice.  AWESOME!  I've cooked with it before, but the red beans and rice recipe called to make it alone and serve the beans over it.  It's really flavorful and smells great while cooking!  I think I'll use it more often when I bake big batches of rice and freeze them to use later.  I've been sautéing kale and cabbage and tossing some black beans and leftover rice in there for lunch.  I feel SO good about eating like this because it's eating WHOLE foods, which is my ultimate goal, it's vegan, which I always feel is best, and it's filling, which is important since it takes awhile to do and it needs to get me through the rest of the day while I clean and child-care.  I usually sauté with toasted sesame oil then add a little mirin, soy sauce and rice vinegar to add flavor.  I love asian flavors, so this is my favorite, but I also sauté with olive oil and add lemon pepper.  Not sure why I added that part.  I guess I figured you're all spending your afternoons, thinking, "What's Melissa having for lunch?!?!"  Kids are starting to swarm me.  Can't reach the keyboard anymore....

Monday, July 21, 2014

Killing Weeds-Naturally

Yesterday I did some yard work.  Every day I do a little (it's part of my new initiative to complete tasks in and around the house that I've been meaning to do for a long time, but keep forgetting about i.e., family photo albums, getting rid of the brush pile, pruning shrubs and trees, etc) but yesterday I worked outside for a few hours.  Evan and I pruned a pine, I hacked back a shrub and I weeded. And weeded.  And weeded.  I used to weed every weekend at the other house and I had things under control to the point where it would only take me about 15 minutes to weed all the beds.  I'm sure I'll eventually get to that point at this house, but right now, I'm fighting weeds with some strong roots.  I know I've posted this recipe before, but I'm posting it again, because I love it.  It's easy and cheap and SAFE for pets and kids (and you too!).

Friday, July 18, 2014

Recipe Friday: Guacamole

Tonight we're celebrating Evan, his mom and his step-dad's birthday at our house.  I'm making one of Evan's (and mine!) favorite appetizers--Guacamole!  I LOVE the guacamole from Chipotle, and I have to to say, I think this recipe is as good, if not better.  Nothing weird and vegetarian or vegan about it (although it IS both) it's just a normal guacamole recipe from my old standby cookbook Bride and Groom First and Forever.  Warning!  If you're making this for a group I recommend AT LEAST doubling the batch.  All I''m going to say is that Vince helped me make it once while we were preparing dinner.  Between Vince, Evan and I the whole batch was gone before dinner was even ready.  Vince wasn't even using chips, just a spoon.  Yes, it was gross.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Vegan Cooking For Carnivores

I was going to blog about my houseplants and how I've been neglecting them and give some tips for how to diagnose problems in house plants, but I'm super excited about this cookbook so I figured, I've ignored the plants thus far, what's a few more days?

OK, so the cookbook.  After I did the blog about the children's book on veganism, I started thinking about eating vegan.  THEN, I remembered a cookbook my brother-in-law recommended to me after his month of eating vegan.  It's by Portia de Rossi and Ellen Degeneres's personal chef, Roberto Martin.

By brother-in-law said they LOVED this book as they transitioned from carnivore (which actually annoys me.  Human's aren't carnivores!  We're omnivores!  If you're a carnivore you eat JUST meat!  Come on people!  This is primary science class!  Sid the Science kid teaches this stuff!) to vegan.  So I checked it out at the North Canton Public Library--they NEVER fail me! I've been holding off looking through it until I could really sit down and devote some time to it.  Well, last night I did and WOW!  I'm SUPER excited to try almost everything in there!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Running

I've always wanted to be a runner.  I ran middle school track, but I really hated it.  My stepmom always used to tell me I looked like I runner with my long legs (I'm 5'3''.  She comes from a family of very short people.) and I think I wanted that to be true.  I chose to be a sprinter so I'd have to run as little as possible.  We had to select 3 events and I always chose a "field" event as well, to keep my distance down.  (Yes, that's right.  I threw both discus and the shot put.  Girls that weigh 100 lbs are notoriously the best shot putters.)  I can remember how much I hated those first few weeks of training, which was really just some college kid that coached us making us run from the middle school to the (current) high school and around the old crappy track across from the stadium.  It was terrible for me, someone who wasn't really a runner. If they had started me slower, allowing me to build up some muscle and some endurance, I think I would have liked it.  So as a teen and an adult I "hated running."  I avoided the treadmill even when I started REALLY working out after Ellie was born and frequented the YMCA.  I always envied Evan, who would occasionally (and I mean OCCASIONALLY) go out for a run that was about 3 miles. It baffled me.  I was winded and my shins hurt after a few meters.  So when we got a treadmill in our basement (for Jack, who has been on it a total of once) I decided to give running a try.  And to my surprise, I like it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Garden: In a Container

I said I wasn't going to do a garden this year, and I haven't, but I couldn't go without doing SOMETHING.  So my mom bought me a giant pot and I put in some herbs (basil, rosemary and cilantro) and one vegetable. I knew that I had to pick something that would stay small (no vining squash) and something that I could really USE, not something that was fun to grow (carrots).  I decided on eggplant.  I realize this might be an odd choice for some people, but for me, eggplant is a summer staple.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Vegan Is Love

I'm not a vegan.  I WISH I could be, but I'm just not committed enough to make the jump.  That said, I found a great book on being a vegan.  It's simply put, explained in such a way that it makes me feel like I SHOULD be a vegan.  It's called Vegan is Love: Having Heart and Taking Action by Ruby Roth.  I found it at the NCPL (of course!)  when I was looking for some religion books for Ellie.  (She's asking tons of questions about God so I thought I'd see what I could find in the way of children's books.)  I was really pleased with the simple messages this book conveyed.  It didn't tell you what you should do, is just states what vegans believe and how they act.  It addresses issues dealing with

Monday, June 30, 2014

Farmer's Market, Brunch and a Trip to the Library

 I'm so so SO happy to be back in North Canton! It's such a fantastic little town!  I was talking to a high school friend who had also lived in a bigger city and moved back to North Canton and we were both in agreement that NC is such a COMMUNITY.  There are lots of NC people that you may not KNOW but you know,  you know?  We're in North Canton city limits, which allows us to be within walking distance to more than just other houses, which is awesome!  Last week, we walked Ellie to cheerleading practice and the other kids played at the park while she cheered.  We go on family walks and pass an candy store that sells ice cream.  (If you know our family you should be amazed by the word PASS in the last sentence.  So far we've exercised amazing self control and haven't stopped yet.)    

Saturday we had a fantastic, green, small town day.  We woke up and did Morning Battle, in which I fight everyone to stop playing Xbox or rolling on the ground or whatever is is they're doing, and put cloths on and brush their teeth and hair, in Ellie's case (sadly not an issue for Olivia yet.).  Once we were all clothed appropriately,  Ellie took her scooter and Caden took his bike, we loaded Olivia into her new umbrella stroller and we walked to the North Canton Farmer's Market.  We had never been to the North Canton Farmer's Market before and I was pleasantly surprised at the selection.  I was expecting it to be more like Gervasis's was in the first year, mostly soap and snacks and honey--not real produce, but there were quite a few stands with real FOOD.  They even had all natural meat, which I asked Evan if he would like and he declined--after seeing the $18 steak price tag.  Maybe hamburger next week.  I got some strawberries, apples, sugar snap peas, kale, zucchini, carrots and of course popcorn.  It all ended up being about $20 which is about what I would expect to spend at a Farmer's Market.  I've heard people say how cheap it is to shop at farmers markets, but that has never been my experience. I generally find the produce to be a little more expensive there than at the grocery store, but I feel comfortable paying a little more to support the local community.  Next, we popped in to the Main Street Grille, which hosts the Farmer's Market in it's "backyard".  We had a really nice brunch (kids all got pancakes, Evan got an omelet and I got a veggie frittata.)  This was, by far, the highlight of Evan's day.  He must have mentioned three times how good his omelet was and how we was excited to go back.  The next stop on our walking tour of North Canton was the library.  Vince had a program (Pet Patrol Party) so I took him downstairs to the program room and Evan stayed upstairs in the Children's department while the other kids played and picked out some library materials.  (Have to share, we got a book called Horrible Hauntings.  You get the App to go with it and then you read the book and use your smartphone/table to make the ghosts come to life on the page!  REALLY cool!)  By the time we walked home we had Olivia's stroller weighed down with fresh produce and books.   I felt like it was just an AMAZING day.   I was so grateful for the opportunity to have such a day.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Gardening: In The Yard and In A Book

I haven't blogged in awhile and it's because I'm exhausted.  I've been out in the yard, weeding, edging, spreading mulch--everyone's FAVORITE part of yard work.  I say I like to garden, and I do, but I like to plant and water and harvest, not fill trash bag after trash bag with dandelions.  When it's all done, it will look presentable, not the embarrassment that our yard is in it's current state.  I'm gaining a lot of motivation from my current book, Michael Pollen's Second Nature : A Gardener's Education.  I love Michael Pollen's books.  They always make me think and feel like I'm reading to broaden my mind, not just be entertained.  After my last string of novels that kept me on the couch instead of doing what I needed to be working on, I decided Second Nature would be a good pick for me.  I enjoy reading it, but I'm able to put it down.  When I'm thinking about it when I'm not reading it, I'm just pondering some ideas he's presented, not wondering what will happen next in the story.  It's a nice change of pace for me.  Any who,  his reflections on the way we as a culture garden, think about gardens and even weeds has been a constant in the back of my mind as I pull dandelion after dandelion and shovel more and more mulch.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Recipe: Guacamole

Tomorrow is Recipe Friday, but it's also Vince's field trip to the farm, so I doubt I'll have time to blog.    I wanted to post this recipe since we just had it for Mother's Day and I'd forgotten how GOOD it is!  It's awesome just as a dip or as a topping for tacos, nachos, quesadillas, burritos, whatever.  It's pretty easy to make, if you don't take into account all the chopping.  I had Vince help me by tearing the leaves off the cilantro and putting them into a mini prep.   We had VERY minced cilantro in our guac, but it was still AWESOME.  I got this recipe from The Bride And Groom Cookbook, which I knew would be fantastic since almost every recipe in there is.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Gardening For Kids: Fairy Garden

You're probably just about sick of me blogging about North Canton Library programs, but this is one more.  Last night, Ellie went to the Children's Department's Fairy Garden Party.  Of course she had fun, she loves that kind of thing, but she also came home with a really cute fairy garden.  
Ellie's Fairy Garden
Ellie's been a fan of fairy gardens for a few years, ever since my mom got her hooked by taking her to a fairy garden class at Rice's Nursery.  Since then I've seen lots of fairy gardens and fairy garden accessories for sale.  We got each of the grandmas fairy gardens a few years ago for mother's day.  The big appeal for Ellie at first was that she really thought REAL fairies would come to her garden.  Now that she's a little older, she just likes the idea of the tiny little accessories and growing flowers.   

So, my blog today is more about how to get little girls interested in gardening.  This fairy garden that Ellie did at the library is basically just a container garden with a few added items, available from Michaels, Pat Catans, or Jo-Ann Fabric (also available at almost all garden centers, for a considerable higher price.)  Any flower will do in a container, as long as you plan the container for the type of flower you're planting as well as placing the container in a place suited to your plant.

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Reflection On Mother's Day

Yesterday yet another note came home from school with Caden.  It's like banging my head against a brick wall talking to that kid about his behavior at school.  He get's so angry and frustrated or he cries.  Or he says, "Whatever!"  or my current favorite, "Ya, Right!".  (He often uses this out of context so I know it's something he's heard somewhere and he's emulating it, trying to be cool.)
I was also talking to another mom of a child with ADHD and it was so refreshing to hear, "ME TOO!" after everything I said about Caden.  He's not alone.  I'm not alone.  But sometimes it feels like it.  Parenting a child with ADHD is so difficult.  Parenting a child with ADHD with other children in the home is also difficult.  We were both (my friend with an child with ADHD) commenting on how we feel like we're constantly harping on the one and praising the other, or nagging one and ignoring the other.  It's hard to focus on 3 other kids when I'm CONSTANTLY focused on Caden, still, even AFTER his toddler phase.   As Mother's Day approaches, I'm reflecting on what it means to me a mother, for me.  A mother of 4 with a child with ADHD a toddler with some separation issues (if you've ever met Olivia and even LOOKED at her, you know what I mean), and one typical preschool boy and a typical first grade girl, who both look up to their older brother and mimic his actions and phrases.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Cliff Notes of My Container Gardening Class

Tuesday night I attended a Container Gardening class at the North Canton Library by Connie Greathouse of Harvest Home Greenhouse.  It was a great way to start gardening without actually getting out in the dirt yet.  Connie told us that you shouldn't plant your plants (no matter how nice the weather seems to be today!) until after the full moon in May.  While this seems like an old fashioned thing to say, it makes sense.  If it's clear the night of the full moon the pull of the moon can suck the warmth from the earth's atmosphere, causing temps to drop to dangers lows for sensitive plants.  If you remember last year, the night of the May full moon has just this phenomenon.  I was out covering all my vegetables and flowers with any scrap of cloth I could find to protect them from the cold.  This year I'm going to heed the warning and just wait until after the full moon.  (Which is next Wednesday the 14th.)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The TV is Broken- I'm Elated!

Normal people don't get excited about expensive appliances bitting the dust.  The is especially true when it's clearly the work of a child.  I, on the other hand, I'm THRILLED that the TV is dead!  Clearly, this needs explaining.  First, yesterday, we had 4 working TVs in our house.  There was one in the play room downstairs, one in our bedroom, one in the living room and one in Ellie's room.  The one in our bedroom is rarely used.  It's primarily for Vince to watch a movie and rest or for Evan to watch the last 1/2 hour of a game.  The TV in Ellie's room is hooked up to the WiiU so it's only for video games (we have about 3 WiiU games) and for watching Netflix.  She's usually pretty good about it, but one night we caught her watching a movie when she was supposed to be asleep and took the WiiU gamepad.  That was probably about a month ago.  I actually forgot we even took it until just now.  She never asks for it, she just plays with toys instead.  Third TV, in the living room, is the main TV.  Evan watches all of his shows on it and we watch all movies and DVDS there.  It's hooked up to the PS3 so there's the ability for gaming, but Evan never uses it and neither did Caden, until recently. He found that there's a free Minecraft download as well as some other free downloads so he can game on it without us actually owning the games.  The games he picked are not at all appropriate for a third grader, but I realized that too late.  I think I've said it before, but that kid is always one step ahead of me when it comes to electronics.  I try to police him the best I can, but he's surpassed me with his knowledge of devices.  So now I have to hide the PS3 controllers to keep him from playing the games that he got for free.  Lastly, the departed TV.  The guy in the play room.  The one I'm glad to see go.  It was the smallest (except for Ellie's Hello Kitty TV) of the main 3 and we'd had it the longest.  When we moved into this house and decided to put the XBOX and Wii and Blu-Ray downstairs it never occurred to me that it would be a daily battle--which I would lose--daily.   As I've said before, Caden is OBSESSED with Minecraft.  It's the only thing he talks about, the only thing he cares about and the only thing he wants to do.  As a punishment for one thing or another, Caden was always losing his iPod, his Xbox controllers and all of his other devices.  (I doubt he even remembers he has a DSXL it's been so long since he's played with it.)  He becomes a different kid when he's played a lot of video games.  A not nice kid.  Angry.  Short tempered with everyone.  I don't like it.  We try to keep him off games as much as we can, but he's sneaky.  We'll take the controllers so he can't play Minecraft and he'll use the blu-ray to get on YouTube and watch other people play mine craft.  Seems harmless, but it has the same effect on him, if not worse, AND they're adults playing so there's the bad language aspect of it.  So we'll take the TV remote.  The kid actually found the Wii that we weren't using in the closet, connected all the wires and started using THAT to watch Netflix and YouTube and even play games.  Always one step ahead.  Take the Wii remotes.  It's a constant headache.  It's not fair to everyone else.  Ellie wants to play Disney Infinity.  She can't because we're hiding controllers.  Vince wants to watch a movie, he can't because we've taken the remote.  If Caden would respond to other punishments we could use them, but the kids is OBSESSED.  He truly cares about nothing else.  I can't think of one other thing to take from him as a punishment.  But that's all in the past.  Now that that %$!@# TV is dead (clearly I've also been watching those Minecraft YouTube videos) I can send him downstairs to PLAY!  He'll be playing with toys.  Real toys.  Interacting with people, not through a microphone, but his siblings in real life.  I thought I could do this before, but because he's always a step ahead, he would have figured out a way to game when I thought he was playing with toys or siblings.  Now, I can relax.  I can trust that he's not gaming.  I'm no longer the bad guy, constantly fighting with him about watching YouTube or gaming or watching Netflix or movies (only two of the 4 TVs can actually watch cable).  Fate has stepped in to help me combat the monster I created when I first said, "Caden, do YOU want to try playing Mario Kart?!" Hello creative play.  Hello giving Vince the time of day and playing with him like he so desperately wants.  Hello playing OUTSIDE!  As good as Caden is with electronics. As tech savvy as he thinks he is.  There's NO way even he can figure out how to fix THIS:

Monday, May 5, 2014

Recipe Monday: Marinated Portobellos

I got caught up in other things Friday and never did a recipe post.  Today my mind is a blank so you're getting last night's dinner.  Evan made marinated chicken on the grill last night.  This is one of his favorite foods and really, there's no vegetarian substitute for grilled meat--except grilled veggies.  So I've been working on finding things that work well on the grill and are also vegetarian and healthy--not "fake" meats or processed veggie burgers.  I LOVE mushrooms so I'm always game to try portobellos different ways.  I found this marinade recipe in the Forks Over Knives Cookbook and it was super easy to make and really good.  I'll definitely try it again.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hazel Artisan Bakery

Today the two youngest kids and I went to pick up our Breezy Hill produce at Hazel Artisan Bakery.  If you're not already, please sit down. Here it is...we were early. I was a little confused and unsure what to do in this situation, since it occurs so rarely with me, but the case of freshly baked cookies gave my kids some ideas.  Each kid got a whole wheat chocolate chip cookie and Vince got a Black Cherry soda (we gave Olivia a sip just to see her make the carbonation face--so mean, but so funny!)  I hated to just get snacks so I thought I'd give the Oatmeal Molasses bread a try.  They sliced it there for me, so each slice is thin and uniform, unlike when I try to slice my own bread at home and each slice seems to be at an angle.  It wasn't until we were sitting down and the kids were enjoying their cookies that I realized that I probably should have just gotten lunch for everyone there--although Cookie Lunch IS fun, it's not that healthy.  They have a light lunch menu at the bakery and although I've never eaten there, the food always looks good.  Maybe we'll give it a try next week when we pick up our produce.
Speaking of our produce, we had baby bok choy and peanut butter for lunch.  It was nice and sweet and just the right size for snacking.  SO happy with what we got from Breezy Hill!  It is all certified organic and I was a little worried about the price ($11 for 3 things seemed like a lot to me) but when I saw the quantity I got and compared it with what I would get at the Raisin Rack (which came from farther away therefore has a larger carbon footprint) I realized it's comparable, if not a little less.  Plus, I can get things (wild ramps)  that I can't at RR.
As for the bread, it was AWESOME!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Olivia's Potty Training

Olivia has decided that it's time to start potty training.  Most mothers would be thrilled with this.  I am not most mothers.  It's not that I don't LOVE potty training--who DOESN'T?!?! It's that I realize, even if she doesn't, that she's still too young.  I was listening to two moms talk at the Y yesterday, clearly on their first round of potty training.  I sympathized.  I read everything I could get my hands on about potty training when Caden was going through it, but it wasn't until Ellie that I really got it.  You don't potty train your kids.  They do it.  It's the first big leap of independence-the first big loss of control as a parent.  "The Experts" have all different kinds of signs you should look for when you're ready to potty train a child.  They stop what they're doing with they have to go.  They tell you when they need a diaper change.  They show an interest when YOU use the potty.  They go for longer periods of time with a dry diaper.  They fail to mention my two favorite cues that your child is ready to potty train.  1.  They can get their pants up and down by themselves.  This, to me, is key.  If your kids can't dress and undress him/herself, this isn't going to be a successful potty training attempt.  Second, they have to be able to reach the toilet.  This is my preference.  I don't use potty seats.  To me, it's another transition that I don't want to make.  After going through the whole potty training thing I don't want to transition them from one potty to the other.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Breezy Hill Farm--It's Spring!

I've posted about Breezy Hill Farm before, but it's been awhile.  It's a certified organic farm in Homeworth, Ohio that produces TONS of veggies year round, thanks to their high tunnels.  A few years ago they started a working relationship with Hazel Artisan Bakery here in North Canton.  You could place an order with Breezy Hill and they'd deliver it to Hazel's for you to pick up--very convent for those of us in the Canton-NC area!  They when I was pregnant with Olivia and teaching preschool, I used to order produce from them and pick it up on my way home from school.  I'd  almost always find something special from the bakery too--a loaf of bread, or some cookies for the kids.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Crown Point Ecology Center

A friend of mine from High School sent me a request on Facebook to "like" a page.  I get these a lot, like I'm sure everyone else does too.  I usually assume that they just checked all their friends and hit send, but when I saw the word "ecology" my interest was peaked--shocking, right?  So it's taken me a month to actually check out their FB page (I'm pathetic) but it looks pretty interesting.  They were trying to get 1000 "likes" by Earth Day (sorry about that Crown Point--if I'd been on the ball you could have had my "like") which I guess they did.  I don't have the patience to scroll all the way down the page and search around on FB for pertinent information (maybe if you had pictures of puppies like Save A Mom Pregnant Dog Rescue does I'd visit your page more!) so I googled their website instead.  Here's a screen shot of their homepage.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Recipe Friday: Spring Vegetable Tagine

I found this recipe in Vegetarian times and thought it looked interesting. To be honest, I didn't think it would really be that great, but wanted to give it a chance.  I cut the recipe in half so I wouldn't waste a ton of food if it was a bomb, but I was pleasantly surprised!  I really liked it and so did Evan!  It takes awhile to bake, but it's similar to crock pot prep-just throw it all in the pot, put the pot in the oven and stir once.  It includes a lot of ingredients I don't normally use, like Fava beans (I couldn't find fresh or frozen like the recipe called for so I just had to use dried, which I soaked and cooked), radishes and fennel.  I don't have a tagine so I just used a covered casserole dish, which worked great for cleanup and leftover storage as well.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Honest Refills

I'm back on an upswing with The Honest Co.  I go back and forth.  Sometimes I feel like it's the best thing in the world (currently)  other times I'm frustrated because I feel like it's too expensive or I don't really need their products, or whatever is my current mood.  But as I said, right now I'm a fan.  Anyway, the newest thing they have that I love is their refills.  Instead of buying a whole bottle, you can just get a concentrate, pour it into your current spray bottle, add water and voila!  Less waste!  So cool!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Coupons for REAL food!

If you live in the Canton area you probably got THE Target coupon yesterday.  It has TONS of $1 off coupons for REAL food--$1 off vegetable, $1 off fruit, $1 off meat (it also had a coupon for a free 2 liter of Coke, but you take the good with the bad!).  I was SO excited to see coupons for stuff I always buy.  Things that are REAL food, not prepackaged or frozen snacks.  The down side is that Target doesn't carry organic fruits and veggies yet, but I'm just going to have to get some "clean 15" items I guess.  Along with my Target coupons, I got a message from a friend on Facebook that linked me to this site.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day! Grow Something!

Happy Earth Day!  I'm so excited that Earth Day is starting to bridge into Earth Month!  Today the kids and I went outside to play--the best way to celebrate a beautiful (albeit windy) Earth Day.  I also registered for a program at the North Canton Public Library called Container Gardening today.  (Click here to register.)  With the new house and new yard and not really knowing what to expect in the way of sun/shade and trying to work with the grass, I've decided not to grow a garden this year.  The thought of not having ANY fresh produce in my yard is too much for me, so I've decided to do some container gardening, however, I've never done any container gardening so I thought this free class would be a great way to learn the basics.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Beech Creek Gardens

Today Vince asked me if he could see a real live butterfly.  I think this was sparked by a discussion about butterflies in preschool, but with a four-year-old, who really know!  Anyway, I pulled up the Beech Creek website to see when their butterfly house opens (not until late June).

Friday, April 18, 2014

Recipe Friday: Healthier Ramen Soup

I mentioned a few days ago that I was trying the Weelicious recipe Healthier Ramen Soup and I'd let you know how it was.  AWESOME!  I LOVED this recipe!  Vince and Olivia did too.  I'm going to link you to the site here, but also do some screen shots so you can read the blurb she wrote about the recipe, see the picture and read the ingredients and directions.  I added tofu to mine to make it a little heartier since I only had one package of ramen (Evan ate the second the night before!)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sunscreen

Despite the face that there's still snow on the ground,  it's getting time to think about sunscreens again.  I was shopping last weekend and noticed that the stores have started with the sunscreen displays already.  Before you start shopping based on package claims,  don't forget to check out the Sunscreen Database.  Don't forget to read those labels!  It's a little counterintuitive to slather on a sunscreen to prevent skin cancer if said sunscreen is laden with cancer-causing chemicals!  Also, although I really love them  for their ease of application,

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My Tuesday in the Kitchen

I was thinking of some kind of informative blog about something new and green, but I decided that on this snowy spring Tuesday, all I was going to do was blog about my day.  I'm feeling really green today.  First, we left the house and went to the Y to exercise.  The kids LOVE to go to the Y.  Olivia has grown attached to one of the Child Care staff members and Vince just likes to go and play with other kids.  This new exercise routine is fantastic.  I feel so much better, in the same way that eating a healthier diet after I've been eating junk makes me feel fantastic.

Tonight for dinner we are having Chicken Noodle Soup and Healthier Ramen Soup, with a salad.  I thought soup would be good on a cold, snowy day.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Target Has Groceries!

I feel like my entire life revolves around food.  Making breakfast, packing and making lunches, planning, shopping for and making dinners--and ALL the clean-up!  It just gets so monotonous.  That's why when I found our our Target was getting a full grocery section I was super excited.  I love Target and I was glad for the break in my grocery shopping routine.  So last week I packed up the family (yes, all 6 of us went) and we headed to Target to check out the new grocery section.  This blogger gives it mixed reviews.  First, their overall selection is pretty good--however, their organic produce and fresh meat section was nonexistent.  NONE!  I was shocked!  Target is so great about carrying organic and earth-friendly products in almost all other areas, I was SO surprised to find that they didn't even have organic bananas, apples and carrots--the most BASIC of organics!  Even ALDI carries those in organics!!!  So that part was a little disappointing, HOWEVER, the rest of their groceries were great!  They and a pretty good selection of organics in the non-perishable departments and I felt the prices were pretty good--add that 5% off with my RedCard and I was pretty happy with my Target shopping trip.  I will not take all 5 of them with me again though.  WAY too expensive with 6 people throwing things in the cart!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Recipe Friday: Pizza Fondue

This week has been crazy!  We've had at least 3 things a night and usually something during the day! It's been really tricky coming up with dinner ideas that I can pull together quickly, clean up quickly and everyone will eat.  Enter Pizza Fondue.  SO fast to prep, cooks for only 2 hrs in the croc pot and everyone loves it!  The best part is, the fondue itself is meat-free so all I have to do to balance the meat loving and meat-less members of my family is vary the dippers!  I even made this last year at the beach when I was cooking for 10--went over well with everyone there too.  I always use fondue forks, which I think is the real reason my kids love this so much.  I dish a little into a small bowl for each of them to prevent double-dipping.  It works great thinned with a little extra spaghetti sauce for a thick, cheesy pasta sauce as well.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Kinder Concert


Today is a crazy day, so a short post.  This morning Vince, Olivia, Nana an I are at the Canton Symphony's Kinder Concert.  It's a culmination of a 4 part series, the first 3 of which feature a picture book and a section if the orchestra (strings, brass, woodwinds).  It's in the Canton Cultural Center's Great Hall, which in and of itself is fun for the kids.  A great way to spend a morning--- unplugged!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Sustainability Fair-In A Nutshell

Saturday Vince and I went to the NCPL's sustainability fair.  He LOVED it!  I thought it was pretty great too!  We started out downstairs for the children's program Earth Month Celebration where we listened to books, did a few crafts and played games.  Then we went upstairs for the fair.  The way it was set up was that you got a bookmark with each vendor listed.  As you went to each booth, the vendors would check off their names on your bookmark and when you got them all checked off, you got a water bottle (BPA free I might add!).  There were 10 booths, some of which Vince hated and some he loved.  Since you're not 4, I'll give you a synopsis of all of them, hoping that your interests are a little broader than Vince's.
1. Ermanno's Legendary Pizza--This was Vince's favorite!  Well, maybe second favorite, but we'll get to that.  Ermanno's had pizza to sample, which I have to admit was AMAZING!  I got their Margherita Pizza. (Extra Virgin Olive Oil Infused with Garlic, Our Triple Blend Cheese, Roma Tomatoes, Organic Local Basil.  Topped with Parmesan & Romano Cheese, Italian Herbs & Seasonings, and Balsamic Glaze.)  Why they were there--they use local, sustainable ingredients for their pizza (fresh, local basil on the Margherita)

2. K.B. Industries, Inc.--Vince liked this one slightly, because they had samples of their recycled rubber pavement over a big jar and he could pour water from a watering can and watch it seep down through the pavement.  I thought it was pretty cool--what a great way to filter and prevent run-off!

3. North Canton Farmer's Market-  Vince got a coloring page to enter into a coloring contest, but I was excited for the prospect of farmers market season coming back!  The NC Farmer's Market is close enough to my house to WALK!  It starts June 14th and goes through Sept 27th from 8:30 -12:00.  It's located at 125 S. Main St.

4. Stark-Tusc-Wayne Recycling-- They had free pencils, which I was super excited about because between Jack and Olivia, pencils are in short supply at our house!  Vince liked the corn hole game they brought.  They're a recycling company--pretty obvious why there were there.

5. The Akron Zoo-  I've blogged before about the cool sustainability stuff the zoo has.  I LOVE the Akron Zoo!  They had a snake with them today, which of course we love.  The first thing Vince does is try to pet it, which didn't go over well with the handlers.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Recipe Friday: Sesame Udon Noodles

This recipe was from my Weelicious Menu for either this week or last week.  I'm a HUGE fan of asian flavors so this was a must try for me.  Olivia, Vince and I LOVED it!  Quick, easy and taste super good!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Inspired

I'm not a huge fan of inspiration quotes.  I generally find them kind of funny.  Pulling a phrase out of context isn't generally what speaks to me.  This past weekend I read a quote that really did speak to me.  I was at the Columbus Zoo with the family when I saw this quote written on the wall.  I was afraid I'd forget it, so I dug around in my bag for my phone to snap a picture.  (I would also like to confess that it was the only picture I took of my family at the zoo.  Sorry kids.  Guess this trip will have to live in your memories only. )

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

NCPL Sustainability Fair

I love the North Canton Library.  I know I've blogged about them a lot, but they really have so many great programs to offer.  Last night Ellie read to Sarge, the Tail-Wagging Tutor.  The Children's department brings in a therapy dog for the kids to read to him.  It may seem silly, but dog's don't judge your reading ability.  They don't jump in and tell you a word you're trying to decode before you have the chance to really give it a shot.  They don't correct you, or hurry you along or get frustrated.  They just listen.  To a lot of emergent or struggling readers, that's just what they need.  I was surprised how fluent Ellie read to Sarge last month.  She was SO excited to go back and read to him last night.  See what I mean--GREAT programs.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Peanuts...Naturally

Not the REAL nuts, but the characters created by Charles M Schultz.  The McKinley Musuem's Keller Gallery will be featuring the exhibit Peanuts...Naturally.

"Peanuts, Naturally 
May 23-August 17
How many suns? Is the Earth flat? Charles M. Schulz touched on many aspects of the natural world during the nearly 50 years he created the Peanuts comic strip. During the 1950s and 1960s, Schulz’s characters explored aspects of the natural world with wonder and delight, and their cockamamie understanding of the world around them afforded many opportunities to introduce readers of the strip to fun facts about the natural world.
Peanuts. . .Naturally will explore the “web of life” through Peanuts comic strips, didactic materials, and inter actives."


I went to the Charles M Schultz Museum website and found this short video which shows a little more about the exhibit.  SO excited to take the kids to this!

Monday, March 31, 2014

DIY Gardening

WOW!  I've been getting lots of txts and emails about blog topics and so I'm going to use a few today, since I've been out running errands and am short on time.  First, I got a forward from a friend of my mom's about DIY gardening--specifially compost bins and potato towers.  Here are the links.  I really like the potato tower idea.  She basically piles three tires on top of each other so she doesn't have to dig way down in the dirt when it's time to harvest--creative, right?

This one is for a Multi-Bin Composter.  I tried my hand at composting a few years ago when we had the two big dogs--it became like slopping the pigs.  I'd dump the kitchen waste and the next thing I know they're out there dining on watermelon rinds--it didn't work.  The second time I tried, I can't really tell if I failed or succeeded.  My mom gave me a garbage can with a lid and the bottom cut off. The idea was to throw compostable items in the top, allow it to break down and wheel the can away and voila! fertile soil.  I started it last summer and since the bottomless trash can was a *little* hard to transport, it's still sitting in my old garden.  This idea is to use pallets to create a compost bin that will keep dogs out.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Recipe Friday: Champagne Brie Fondue

I tried a new recipe this week, but it was a flop.  This weekend is my brother-in-law's 30th birthday party.  We're doing an "Around The World"  theme (thanks for the inspiration Lambda Chi Alpha!) and each guest is bringing a dish and a drink from a different country.  I chose France and I'm making a Champagne Brie fondue from The Bride and Groom First and Forever Cookbook.  I LOVE this recipe!  It's our traditional New Year's Eve dinner because of the champagne, but also because it's the ingredient list is pretty pricey so it's only a special occasion dish.  I've made it TONS of times and the only times it's not turned out well was when I tried to cut corners and buy pre shredded swiss or cheap, rindless brie.  You HAVE to buy the good stuff or it just curdles and is gross.  We've tried all kinds of dunkers for this, but the best are french bread, granny smith apples, cubed chicken, and roasted mushrooms.  Joyeux Anniversaire Rob!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

North Canton Chickens

My friend sent me a text this morning with announcing that Hartville Kitchen is going to be hosting a free presentation on March 27th at 6:30 to learn how to start your backyard flock.  (330) 877-3631 for more info.  So it's back to thinking about chickens again.  I don't want a lot--just two or three.  I really want them more as pets, not so much for the eggs, although that would be an added bonus.  So I thought I'd look into it yet again.  This time, I took the big step.  I called the city.  After asking the woman who answered the phone in the Permits office if she could tell me about North Canton's laws on chickens her response was , "Oh boy!".  So they're legal, but not really favorable?  Here's what I found out:



Within the City Limits of North Canton:


  • You can have up to 6 hens--no roosters
  • The birds need to be in an enclosed yard or pen up to 18 sq feet
  • The enclosure has to be 50 feet away from any residence and 20 feet from the property line
  • Chicken feed must be kept in a rodent proof container and chickens must be fed in a manner as to not attract rodents.
  • You can't slaughter chickens within city limits 

That kind of rules out free range chickens for us since we don't have a fenced yard...UNLESS...do you think we could fit the chickens with little tiny Invisible Fence collars?!?!  I would have to go outside and measure to make sure that we even have the space to keep them 50 ft from the house and 20 feet from the property line.  I think the dream of raising chickens is quickly fading for me.  Maybe I should focus on my children like the one who is walking around the yard with a cigarette butt in his mouth and just broke an old milk bottle on the steps outside.  We ooze class, don't we?

Is it better or worse that he found it on the ground and didn't smoke it himself? 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Nine Lives

Sometimes I feel like a cat.  You know, how they're supposed to have nine lives? I think back on parts of my life and it seems like so different from how my life is now that it's almost like a totally different life.  There was the life I lived in High School, part of a family that doesn't even exist anymore, the life in college, the life of a recent college grad working in downtown Columbus,  the life in grad school, the one in the apartment in Columbus with Evan, the life Evan and I had before we had kids--just the dogs--in our first house, the life of a new mom, trying to balance a baby and a job, the life of a stay at home mom of one, with another on the way, then the life of a stay at home mom with two kids, babysitting and teaching online, the life of a mother of 3, again trying to balance work and family with a 4th on the way--each stage seems so different when I look back on it.  Evan and I laugh all the time about how EASY having two kids was!  The fact that we ever were flustered or overwhelmed seems like a joke.

Anyway, the point of all of this is that last weekend was Caden's 9th birthday party.  Being 9, he's getting to old for the kind of parties we had for him as a

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Oh, right, Swiss Chard!

Yesterday someone was asking me where to get kale-apparently it was sold out at Giant Eagle.  Clearly lots of people have been reading my blog and kale is now in high demand.  I told her I've seen it almost everywhere that carries produce--even Wal-Mart has it.  She was going to use it in smoothies, which I do as well, and I was thinking how it's so much better than spinach.  I feel like spinach really gives the smoothie a gritty, greens taste, while kale doesn't really add a whole bunch of flavor.  Then all of a sudden, I remembered my old friend Swiss Chard.  I can't BELIEVE I had forgotten about this guy!  I LOVED swiss chard so much!  I used to sautee it for lunch all the time.  I added it to smoothies and I would even throw it in soups when they called for "greens".  I haven't gotten any in a REALLY long time and that's going to change when I go to the grocery store this week.  It also made me remember how easy it was to grow.  I planted some in the first garden I did and it came up again the next year--a TON.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St Jactrick's Day!

Most people know March 17th as St. Patrick's Day, but in our house, it's Jack's birthday.  Today our little man turns one year old.  We haven't had him a year yet, but one year ago, the little pregnant dog that was rescued from a high kill animal shelter in Alabama, gave birth to a little of pups.
Trixie--Jack's Mom

A few weeks later they made their way to Ohio and a few weeks after that Jack found his way to our house.
Jack and Ellie, the day we brought him home.

So, on the day of his birth, I'd like to send a "Thank You" to the woman that took the time and effort to save a pregnant dog, whelp a litter of puppies and drive them to Ohio.  All your work has not gone unappreciated.  Every day I cure you.  THANK--I mean thank you!  I THANK you every day.  (Freudian slip)
Jack's latest mess.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Recipe Friday: Crispy Tofu Fingers

I've tried Tofu Fingers before, but they've never been very good.  The breading always falls off and they're a real mess to make.  Then they're bland.  These were different.  You use oobleck to hold the bread crumbs to the tofu (that's a cornstarch/water mix for all you non-teachers/non-Dr Seuss fans).  Worked WAY better than an egg wash--you might want to give it a try on chicken in the same fashion.

This recipe came out of my March Vegetarian Times.  It was in a section about making for recipes all at once, so it's designed to be made in advance.  I liked that it went right in the oven with the nuggets I made for the rest of the family (see, I told you I've been slacking.  I would have rather died than feed my family nuggets a few years ago-now I'm lazy and I've lost a little of my fire, but I'm working on getting it back!)  To store them, you wait until they've cooled then layer them between sheets of wax paper and put them in resealable containers.  Refrigerate up to two days or freeze for up to 3 months.  To reheat, just bake 5-7 minutes at 350.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Attempted Abduction

I keep trying to think of a better blog post, but every time I sit down to write, my thought keep going back to the phone call I got from our Superintendent about an hour ago.  He was calling to let us know of an attempted abduction from a bus stop this morning.  The driver was a white man in a black SUV.   He tried to convince the girl to get in his car by offering candy.  Apparently, he even got out of the SUV.  The girl did the right thing and ran, so she's fine--physically, but I'm sure she's more than a little freaked out.  And so are all the parents.  The Facebook page of Ellie's elementary school PTO has tons of comments.  The rumor I heard is that it was at a stop in the Greentown area, not close to us, but that's just rumor.  It's been really upsetting, coming on the heels for finishing the book The Lovely Bones.  It was supposedly a 5th grade girl, which makes me think the abductor was a novice--really, you thought CANDY would work?!?!  (Unless he had those Godiva truffles.  I might get into a car with a stranger if he offered me those.)  When I hung up the phone I turned around and saw Ellie's LaLa Loopsies all over the kitchen counter.  I was so frustrated when I saw them this morning, thinking, "I'll have to clean THAT up today!", but after the call, I saw them in a different light.  Instead of a mess to clean up, I saw a moment in time of Ellie, playing before school, quietly by herself, like she always does.  If that had been HER and not an ATTEMPTED abduction,

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Back In The Kitchen

I said the other day that I feel like I've been really lazy with my eating habits.  I used to cook a lot more and lately, I feel like I've been doing my best to NOT cook.  So this past weekend, as I was making my weekly dinner menu, I was flipping through the pages of my latest issue of Vegetarian Times and I found quite a few recipes that jumped out at me.  I'm finding this to happen less and less with this magazine, so I was excited to have the new options.  It's such a good feeling to put a try something new that actually tastes great--so often I try new recipes only to find that the extra ingredients that I had to buy and the extra time it took to prepare the new meal was only to choke down something that I swear I'll never make again.  It's frustrating.  OR, I really like it and no one else does, which means I'm eating leftovers for days and when it's all finally gone, I'm so sick of it I never want to make it again.  But this little snack I made the other day is not one of those recipes.  It's actually not from my Vegetarian Times magazine, but from my much loved Vegetarian Mother Cookbook.  I've seen it in there a lot, but never really tried it.  I was so disappointed that I've been missing out!  Such a quick, versatile recipe!  It's just roasted Garbanzo beans.  That's it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It's HERE!

It's here!  Spring!  I know it's only for a day, but it feels so good to be able to be outside without a heavy coat and to see that sunshine and the blue sky!  I have my windows open and I'm able to enjoy the spring sounds of the guy down the street cleaning his car with the radio blasting hip-hop.  I'd prefer birds chirping, but at this point, the knowledge that the snow and ice are almost totally melted in my yard makes me not even care.  Vince is outside playing without a coat (and mud boots, but that's spring) and even Jack is outside playing (sniffing all the new smells that have been buried under the snow since we moved in.)

So I was going to blog about grass-fed cow yogurt that my mom told me about, but instead I'm just going to enjoy today.  4-6 inches of snow are on their way so I'm going to live in the moment.  I'm going to breath in the fresh air, turn off the heat, and try to remember what spring really feels like--and all the fun that goes with it--outside planting and fresh produce at the farmers market and even grocery store.  Happy Spring (even if it only lasts for a day!)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Caden is 9!

Happy Birthday to my oldest!  I've looked at him over the years and thought about how big he's gotten and today was no different. I was telling him over breakfast what was going on at that time nine years ago- judging by his interest level, it's not the best story, so I won't bore you with it.  But I like to think back on Cadens past on his birthday.  Who he was at each birthday and how he's changed.  Our old neighbors were Jehovah's Witnesses, and therefore didn't really celebrate birthdays.    She once told me that on each kid's birthday they talked about the day they were born and how much they had grown over the past year.  I thought that was a really great way to celebrate--in a different sense of the word-- each birthday.  So, Caden, here's you, over the last 9 years.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

SmileBox

I have to confess that I've been a little lazy with Caden's birthday.  It's surprised  me this year--all of a sudden it's here!  I think I was planning Ellie's, then I planned his family party, then I just kind of forgot about it.  But now it's quickly approaching and we are scrambling to throw together a friend party for him.  He's not making a lot of friends quickly at his new school--which is very Caden-like, and he didn't have a ton of close friends at the old school--also very Caden-like.  Therefore, he doesn't have a huge guest list for a party.  We were just going to do something kind of informal--taking a few kids to The North Canton Skate and Entertainment Center to play video games, laser tag, euro bungy, bumper cars, etc.  Of course I didn't really PLAN that until the other day when I realized we're out of weekends and we need to get this invites out NOW!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Thinking Spring: Garden Beds

It's been a long winter.  I've heard people say that before, which always seemed silly to me, but this year, I get it.  I'm SO ready for warmer weather and the ground to thaw.  I saw a woman at the YMCA today with a 31 tote in a flip-flop pattern and I sighed looking at it.  I want to wear flip flops again.  And tank tops--without layers over them.  So as I'm thinking about warmer weather, I'm also getting back to exercising at the Y again--really. Not like I did before where I mostly read on the Arc Trainer and never broke a sweat.  I'm lifting weights and really trying to focus more on the exercise part of my cardio, rather than the literary.  Along with my new exercise routine, I'm also back to eating better.  I've been eating LOTS of kale, which always makes me feel better.  I'm making smoothies again and I've been sautéing kale with beans and rice for lunch.  (Today I threw in some dried cranberries, and walnuts as well as sautéing half a zucchini and even a scrambled egg--so good!)  The  one bunch of kale I was buying before that was lasting me for weeks is now only lasting me a few days.  It KILLS me to buy kale, when I know I can grow it for so cheap--but it's not *quite* time to plant yet--Sprout Robot says March 31st.  I was going online to check out what the best containers are for container gardening and I happened across these tips for starting your bed or raised bed.  They're all on sprout robot, but I copied them here, just for a quick reference.  I love that site!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Frozen Pipe and Shaking Up Lunch

This morning we woke up with no water.  Long story short-- I accidentally put my garage door UP last night instead of putting Evan's DOWN and both garage doors were open all night long--freezing our water pipe, which caused the meter to burst, spraying water all over the garage.  It's fixed now, thanks to the North Canton City Water guys, but I wasted a TON of energy last night as I tried to heat the outdoors (we have a heated garage) and then a ton of water this morning as the burst pipe gushed out all over my van and the driveway.  Bad day for natural resources at our house.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Honest Dish Brush

I go back and forth with The Honest Company.  Sometimes I love it, sometimes I want to cancel my bundle subscription.  I really do like the products.  I have yet to find one that I don't care for (well, I guess I wasn't a big fan of the sunscreen), but the price is a little steep for me.  I actually think the products are reasonably priced, it's just the shipping.  Anyway, I got a new product in this month's bundle (which I've actually changed to every 8 weeks).  It's the Suds Up Dish Brush.  Here's what the site says about it:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Recipe Friday: Breakfast Smoothie

I LOVE smoothies!  I have my go-to smoothie that I've been making for years with yogurt, kale, OJ, bananas and berries, but when I saw this one in a magazine, I thought I'd give it a try.  I varied from the original recipe by using mixed berries instead of strawberries and peanut butter instead of almond butter, but it was still pretty tasty.  I like how it includes some whole grains with the oatmeal.  It gives it a thicker, creamier texture and the small amount of peanut butter gives it a boost of protein with a hint of the flavor.  I might try tossing some of these ingredients into my traditional smoothie and see what happens.

Breakfast Smoothie



1 C frozen strawberries
1C skim milk
2 TBSP almond butter
1/4 C rolled oats
dash of cinnamon

Throw it all in a blender and puree until smooth!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Recipe Friday: Potato Kale Quiche

I made this the other night for dinner, but didn't put it in a pie crust.  I just poured the filling into a casserole dish.  I've taken this dish to at least one family gathering and it went over pretty well.  I really love it.  As far as quiches go, it's pretty hearty, with all the potatoes.  I think the nutmeg flavor makes it seem a little sweet, which of course I love.  It's from my favorite cookbook The Vegetarian Mother's cookbook by Cathe Olson.  I've used this thing so much my copy looks like this:



Thursday, February 27, 2014

Family Time

When we moved schools I got all the paperwork that the teachers usually ask for at the beginning of the year.  Along with all the boring forms, Ellie's teacher had a little "Getting To Know You" kind of paper.  One of the things she asked was if the child had a TV in his/her room (which up to a week before would have been "no" but Santa had just brought her one--although it's only hooked up to the Wii U) and another was "What 3 Things Do You Do As A Family?"  Now, I'm not sure what the purpose of this question was, but it made me feel a little guilty.  I had a hard time coming up with 3 things we do.  I said 1. Family Walks (which, admittedly, we haven't done in a LONG time--thank you very much Ohio Winter) 2. Sunday Morning Coffee and Donuts (a tradition that was started when Evan and I moved to our first house, before we even had kids.  Even on vacation we scout out the local Dunkin and get our Sunday coffee and donuts.)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Rockin' Green Detergent

When I first started using cloth diapers I used Allen's Naturally to wash them.  It was a $21 box of detergent and it lasted for almost a year.  It came in a plain white box with "Allen's Naturally"  in box letters on it.  It worked well.  I was happy.  But then, over time, as cloth diapering moms know, the ammonia smell started.  It happens every once in awhile.  It's just a build-up from extended use, but I was having a hard time getting rid of it.  So I asked at The Breastfeeding Center, where I got the diapers, if they had any suggestions.  They suggested Funk Rock.  It came in a small black and white bag with green lettering.  It looked fun.  I tried it.  It worked.  I was happy.  After awhile I ran out of my boring boxed Allen's and had to go back to the Breastfeeding Center to get more detergent.  I decided to give Rockin' Green a try because I liked the Funk Rock and, as you can tell from my descriptions above, I liked the packaging.  I also thought the concept was funny.  Well, actually the concept is genius, the marketing is funny.  What makes Rockin' Green detergent different form all other green detergents is that it's formulated for your water--soft, medium or hard.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Yogi Teas

I used to be a coffee drinker.  I drank coffee all through college (lots of sugar and cream, of course) and even after I was married.  But then I got pregnant.  Then I was nursing.  Then I was pregnant.  Then I was nursing.  Then I was pregnant.  Then I was nursing.  Then I was nursing AND pregnant.  And now I'm nursing.  So no caffeine is what I'm saying.  I did decaf, and still do decaf coffee occasionally, but when I started shopping at Raisin Rack I discovered the Wide World of Tea.  So much fun!  A whole wall of teas that claim to do different things.  I bought the Mother's Milk one, because, well, I was nursing.  I loved it!  I also bought the Mother-To-Be  because I was pregnant.  I finally started to branch out and what I've found is that Yogi teas are really good.  I don't know about their claims for aiding various ailments, but from I flavor standpoint, I haven't really found anything that quite compares.