Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Eat Your Vegetables

Since early this summer, Hunter has become enamored with gardening, fruits and vegetables. 
Since Dave and I try to foster our littles' interests, we have tried a number of creative ideas the past few weeks to build on his new passion. 

*A trip with Daddy to the local florist where he discovered branches from a blueberry bush.
*Corn on the cob has become a regular side dish.
*Repeated trips to our town's high school garden that is kept by the science teacher and his class.
These trips are often followed by a visit to our grocery store or farmer's market where I let the kids pick out the vegetables they want to try.

(Colorful peppers and ranch dressing for dipping. I can't seem to shake my recent pregnancy edamame craving but the kids have followed suit which makes me smile. Although it could be the salt and lime juice I add?)

*Introducing them to new ways to eat their fruits and vegetables.
 (Heirloom salad with mozzarella cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper.)

(Frozen grapes are perfect for the beach.)

(Edamame, ham, peaches, veggie packed ravioli, and hummus with peppers.)
*Camp tattoos 
(His teachers commented that they loved that he asked for a vegetable garden tattoo and were blown away by the artist's rendition of one.)
*Recreating a garden Hunter can call his own.
 (Hunter and his wand.)
 (He claimed to be casting magical powers on his garden to make his vegetables grow.)
(I think it worked.)
(The side garden seems to be doing well too.)
All of the exploration of vegetables and gardening has sparked more conversation of insects. This allowed us to resurrect our bug sensory box.
(Although he said he liked the way it felt in his hands....
he said he liked the way it felt better in his hair....
...and that lemonade was necessary for smart bug investigation.)
We recently tried a recipe for tomato pie from the kids' school cookbook. 
(Although his job was to line the plate with the tomato slices, I kept finding him doing this.)
My food styling and photography don't show it, but this was the best tomato pie I've ever eaten. The recipe is below and I highly recommend it!
Earlier this week we took some time to learn about star fruit on the Internet and then sliced one to eat ourselves.
We learned that they are best for eating when bright yellow with brown edges so we knew ours was perfect.
I think the kids were most excited about the shape it made when cut.
And speaking of growing vegetables....our little guy is sprouting up just perfect. 
 Parenting is tough work. 

I find that continually trying to provide your children with a nourished, well-balanced meal can be challenging given the amount of times I find myself on hands and knees wiping up thrown food accused of being yucky or scraping nearly full helpings of dinner into the trash due to its edibility by a parent questionable (is that spit or wet potatoes?). 

Although it's not easy to admit your delicious, four-course meal went over like a bag of bricks with your toddlers, I do believe its my job to continually offer what's best for their little bodies. 

I'm also often reminded of the importance of modeling good, healthy eating habits. If it weren't for my kids constantly stealing my food, they never would have developed their love of edamame. And, hey--if edamame is the only thing they walk away from their childhood eating then, I did pretty darn good. 
"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato."
-Lewis Gizzard
Delicious Tomato Pie
1 pie crust (we used frozen)
Dijon mustard
Diced frozen organic onions (about 2-3 medium sized onions worth)
Olive oil
3/4-1 bag of shredded organic sharp cheese and/or Mexican blend (I know, sounds strange but it was perfect!)
2-3 large tomatoes
Basil, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped (or minced garlic)
black olives
Bake pie crust according to the directions. Slice tomatoes and arrange on plate. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for 30 minutes. Saute' onions in olive oil. Baste cooked pie crust with Dijon mustard. Spread cooked onions to cover the crust. Cover the onions with cheese. Sprinkle basil generously over the cheese. Cover cheese with tomatoes. Mix 2-3 Tbsp olive oil, garlic, basil and spread over tomatoes. Decorate with black olives. Cook for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Let sit for about 20 minutes before serving. 

P.S. With all this talk of vegetables I'm sure you're wondering if we still make time for our favorite cupcakes? Of course, because it's all about balance right?!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Blue Skies and Broom Sticks

Tonight I stared up at an open, bright blue sky. I felt loose, calm, relaxed and proud for making this night happen for myself.

I took an outdoor yoga class which was a mix of Vinyasa and Relaxation. At the close of the class I felt completed rejuvenated. When the teacher asked us to focus on one positive thing we could take away from the class, I knew what it was. Not just the fact that my tight neck, back and hips were finally home again, centered where they should be, but the gift of being able to enjoy this beautiful summer night and ponder over all my many blessings as I focused on breathing deep into the hollow of my belly.

Thank you for my health, my family, my husband, my children, my home, and my good friends.

Much to the chagrin of my husband, my littles have a fascination with the Wizard of Oz since Emerson's party few months ago. It is frequently a topic of discussion within the walls of our home and even presents itself outside in forms of Tin Man and Wicked Witch impersonations.
(His favorite teacher at camp dressed up as Dorothy for Fantasy Costume Day when she heard he was going to be the Witch. She made his day and he couldn't stop smiling when I picked him up at the end of camp.)
 (Chalk drawing courtesy of our girl Kathleen.)
(Hunter mixing his "Witches Brew"--aka chocolate milk and 
green food coloring.)

When their music teacher recently suggested that we "must" go see an upcoming outdoor performance of the classic movie, I wasted no time in purchasing tickets.
I wondered if my newly two-year old who typically is not a fan of sitting still would last. She sat mesmerized throughout the entire production.
(We all wore themed outfits of course. Well....all but one of us.)
(I think Daddy was more excited than he looked.)
After the close of the show, Hunter eagerly awaited meeting his favorite character. It was obvious that the woman who played the Wicked Witch was so touched that Hunter wanted to meet her. She told us that most children were scared of her so this was a first.

It touches my heart that my littles love my own childhood favorite movie as much as I do. Even though its not our typical educational dvd that we watch in our home, I treasure the small lessons within that it has taught me.
Recently, we had a scare when Hunter took a big fall. 

As I held my scared little boy in my arms and tried my best to comfort him, he pulled back and excitedly said, "I was like the Scarecrow! I fell and was saying 'whoa! whoa!' (as he imitates the Scarecrow flailing his arms about) but then, like him, I get right back up!"

I smiled because he had taken something positive away from this special movie. He learned that although we will fall many times, just like the Scarecrow, we can get back up again.

He also reminded me of another lesson in all that. If you remember, the Scarecrow didn't do it on his own. He had the help of his friends.

*Thank you Kathleen for staying an extra hour and walking a typically-calm-but-very-cranky-today baby so I could make tonight happen.
*Thank you Sari for our spontaneous salad dates where we can dish about our days and walk away seeing the positive in them.
*Thank you Roxanne for saying yes when I reached out for help and giving me some much needed meals and rest.
*Thank you Debra for always having a sense of humor so we can laugh about laboring beautiful, sweet, compassionate kids who also hit, bite and push.
...and have a need for nude picnics.
*And thank you Merri for always teaching a rocking yoga class. My legs felt like wet noodles when I left and I loved it!

Can't you give me brains?" asked the Scarecrow.
"You don't need them. You are learning something every day. 
A baby has brains, but it doesn't know much. 
Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge, and the longer you are on earth the more experience you are sure to get."
-L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Keep going, keep growing and only stop along the way to ponder the blessings.