Sunday, December 7, 2014

Week in Review: Math & Reading, Bad Burn, He's Rolling!

A few weeks ago, I decided to focus more on reading and math for Bridget. She's been very good with math from the very beginning, but the lessons are finally starting to get harder. We're also working more with the math manipulatives. We're using the Math-U-See Primer level curriculum. So far, we both really like it. It was a toss up between Math-U-See and Saxon Math, but I think we'll be sticking with Math-U-See.
Bridget has been building big numbers with the manipulatives. She gets a bit frustrated sometimes (especially with the hundreds), but I am happy about it. A little frustration is a good thing. It tells me she's learning something new, getting out of her comfort zone, and really needing to use her thinking skills. She's doing very well! She has also started building addition problems, and I can't wait to do mroe of that with her this coming week. Below are a few pictures from the math work she's been doing.
When I notice Bridget's numbers getting a bit sloppy, or that she's writing some numbers backwards, I break out her number writing practice folder. I have two pages of each sheet, so it keeps her busy for awhile and most importantly, she's getting the practice she needs. The numbers go up to twenty, so she has a total of 8 pages to complete. Not too bad, although sometimes she wants to take a break because her hand hurts. So we'll have a snack and she'll get back to work. George loves it when I have Bridget work on her writing, because that means the math blocks are available. He enjoys building towers and bridges.

Other exciting news is that Bridget has completed every book in her BOB Books Sight Words for Kindergarten that Grandma gave to her. I'm very pleased with the BOB Books and went ahead and ordered the rest of them over the weekend. I can't wait for them to arrive so that we can continue on with her reading skills.

George had an injury the day before Thanksgiving. It involved Granny's hot glue gun, and resulted in a painful 2nd degree burn. I'll blog more about that when I finally get around to recording our Thanksgiving holiday. It was a major event in our household, as he was quite traumatized by it and talks of it often.

And for the last bit of news... Liam is now a roller! On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, he rolled from his tummy to his back. On the following Monday, he rolled from his back to his front. He's now our little roly-poly.

Linking up with:

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Recipe: LA-Style Chimichurri Tacos

This week I finally got around to trying Chloe Coscarelli's "LA-Style Chimichurri Tacos". I'm hesitant to make anything that has a lot of mushrooms (that are not small enough to go unnoticed) or that uses cilantro, as my husband does not like either of those foods. Me? I LOVE mushrooms. I LOVE cilantro. I may also have a bit of an obsession with tasty food, but that's another post entirely.

These were very easy to make, though it took me awhile to prepare it because I was trying to determine the best order to make things for it all to get done efficiently. I spent a good portion of the time preparing the fresh vegetables that I'd need for EVERYTHING, rather than just getting done with one thing first. Lesson learned. Prepare the rice first! While that is cooking, prepare the Chimichurri Sauce. After the sauce is done and the rice is still cooking, wash and slice the mushrooms. Cook these in the last 5 minutes, as this part is very quick.  You'll want the mushrooms to still be hot when preparing your taco but you don't want to overcook them and have soggy mushrooms.

LA-Style Chimichurri Tacos
Source: Chloe Coscarelli, Chloe's Kitchen

Tomato Rice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tomato, finely chopped (I used 2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes)
1/2 c. brown rice (I used a whole cup)
1 c. vegetable broth (I used 2 cups)

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat and add onions and salt. Sauté onions until soft. Add tomato, rice, and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until all broth is absorbed and rice is cooked (this took almost 30 minutes). Turn off heat and let sit, covered, for 15 minutes.

Chimichurri Sauce
1 c. fresh cilantro
1/2 c. fresh Italian parsley
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. lime juice
4 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. agave
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until all ingredients are well-combined and the herbs are finely chopped.

Taco Filling
2 Tbsp. olive oil
8 ounces crimini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat and sauté mushrooms until they have released their juices. Add black beans and half of the Chimichurri Sauce and cook until heated through. Reserve the remaining half of the Chimichurri Sauce to spoon onto the taco, if desired (I highly recommend doing this... it is so good!).

You will also need 1 package of 8-inch tortillas.

To prepare the taco: add rice, then mushrooms. Then various toppings, if desired: red onions, lettuce, fresh tomatoes, avocado, or your favorite vegan sour cream. I did without the sour cream and instead used the chilled Chimichurri Sauce to add that bit of coolness to an otherwise hot taco.

Lastly, this can all be made in advance and the rice and taco filling can be reheated quickly. I wouldn't recommend keeping the mushrooms longer than 3 days.

The above photo is of the tacos without any additional toppings (the way my husband prefers). Below is a fully loaded LA-Style Chimichurri Taco!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Extracurricular Activities, Fall 2014

The middle of November, both ballet and gymnastics had their "Parents' Week", and we got to watch Bridget show off what she has learned so far this year. She is in Pre-Ballet II and seems to be doing quite well. I think she is probably the oldest in her class, as she just missed the cut off for public school Kindergarten. The other girls are mostly 4 years old.
Her dance studio does not allow parents to watch every class, as it can be quite distracting for the students. Because of this policy, Parents' Week is crowded with parents and grandparents. Her teacher, Ms. Denise, is so good with the kids and they have the cutest songs to help them learn the different positions.

We also got to watch Bridget in gymnastics. I usually watch her during every lesson, but this time the parents were able to sit in the gym. Bridget has gotten much more brave and listens to the instructions well. She loves her teachers Mr. John & Miss Rachel. She is so close to doing a handstand without the support of the wall.

Bridget used to be afraid of jumping on the trampoline during her first year. This year, she's much more confident. She is able to control her jumps well rather than bouncing all over the place.

Halloween Festivities 2014

Halloween festivities lasted nearly a week for us this year. Every year, our church holds a 'Trunk-or-Treat' in the parking lot for all of the kids to have a safe place to show off their costumes and get some candy. Some areas also have chili cook-offs and games prior to the trunk or treat.
I am now back to using their real names. Their personalities change so often that keeping up with a good nickname was difficult and ever-changing. It was originally intended for privacy but became more of a headache. Besides, it's mainly family and friends reading this stuff anyway.
This year, Bridget wanted to be Elsa from Frozen (just like every other little girl on the planet!). Halloween was so warm this year that I didn't need to buy her any covered shoes to match her costumes. She was able to wear her summer time church sandals! She felt super regal every time she put on her costume. She even got to wear some makeup we had leftover from her ballet performance.
George wanted to be something that "roared", so I was very excited to find this dragon costume for him. He would get into character each time his costume was put on. The very first time his hand went into the "claws", he'd stare at them and wiggle his fingers. I know he was thinking how awesome it was to finally have dragon hands. He is such a fun, wild boy!

Liam became the third baby to wear this pumpkin costume for Halloween. He looked just as cute as his older siblings did. I love his smile!

Here are the older kids after the trunk-or-treat. As I rarely have given my kids candy (cookies and cake, yes.. candy, no), George really had no idea what all the packages in his bucket were. Bridget remembered from last year, though. Once we got back to the van, he got to try some. His life was changed forever.

Later in the week before Halloween, we headed down to my in-laws' to attend their trunk-or-treat. They had a lot more going on for the kids there, and we all had a blast.

Finally, the day of Halloween arrived. We typically stay indoors and have our own family fun. My dad brought over a huge pumpkin with some stickers to decorate it with. The kids began decorating themselves, and Bridget put this sticker on Liam. I couldn't resist taking a picture. I'm so glad he was happy about it.

I like to make a Halloween-themed dinner to make things fun for the kids. This year, I made "Ghoulash", using my husband's grandmothers recipe for Austrian goulash, and veganizing it (taking out the beef and changing the spices and adding a few more vegetables to make up for the lack of meat). It was so good and the kids got a big kick out of it. I kept the heat to a low so that the kids could enjoy it, but I personally would have liked to have more cayenne pepper. I can't wait until they get old enough to handle some heat! Oh wait, yes I can. STOP GROWING!

Our Halloween dessert: chocolate cupcakes with orange frosting and festive sprinkles. George couldn't wait to dig in!

He's Blessed, We're Blessed!

Our sweet Liam was blessed on Sunday, October 12, 2014. As previously posted, my husband's family came in from out of town to share the day with us. Liam was calm and happy while my husband gave him the blessing.

After sacrament meeting, we took some pictures in the foyer and came home to have a spaghetti dinner.

It was a little over a month later that we finally had some portraits made of Liam in his blessing outfit. I'm so glad that he was able to still fit in it!

One of my favorites. His eyes, his sweet smile, and those chubby cheeks.
His "Mommy, I'm ready for a cuddle" look.

We are all so very happy to have him in our family!
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