Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

I LOVE FALL.  Love the leaves, the festivities....corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and apple orchards.  Really, I don't think I could ever live somewhere that didn't have Autumn festivities.

Last year Julian was very aware and interested in all the decorations but this year he was SO into it!  I made the mistake of bringing he and Dash to Party City with me to choose decorations but the mature decorations were too intense for my little guys.  I went back without them to choose G-rated decorations and the boys LOVED helping us hang up the pumpkins, ghosts, and of course, silhouettes.  We totally flaked on making jack-o-lanterns this year...oops.  Does that make this Halloween incomplete? 

We went to a Halloween party last weekend at a friend's house and while Dash was okay wearing his lion hand-me-down costume, Julian wasn't big on wearing the actual costume but just the pirate hat.  He loved seeing all the costumes but I think he was still a little confused with them.   Dash didn't seem phased at all seeing all the different costumes but after that party he has refused to wear the costume until trick or treating tonight. 
This past weekend was supposed to be a weekend of festivities but we were snowed out on saturday.  Here is a picture of grandma's car with the slushy stuff.  It wasn't enough to impact traffic or anything but it definitely bumped the outdoor plans we had for that day.  We thought about going to the Air & Scare at the Air & Space Museum but apparently everyone had a similar idea because there was a line to PARK it was so busy.  Glad we didn't end up going.  


So instead of battling with the crowds we stayed inside, made play-doh zombies coming out of the ground (table) and had fun with costumes.

Peek a....


Last night we attended the Holistic Moms Network Annual Halloween Party and despite the cold and arriving very late to the event, it was a lot of fun!  We arrived too late for the pumpkin decorating and bobbing for apples, but we did enjoy the yummy food and company nonetheless.  Plus I got to hold a 2-week old baby so it was great night. 

I also love that with little ones they get plenty of opportunities to wear costumes between parties, class celebrations, and the actual night of Halloween.  Julian changed his mind constantly about what to be - witch, knight, pirate - and eventually settled on being a vampire because he wanted to wear my cape (I was a vampire at the party last weekend).  We went to my mother's for dinner and trick or treating since her neighborhood has a ton of little kids and the houses are closer together.  Plus, I knew that my brother and mom wanted to celebrate with the boys, too, so it was a fabulous night.  

Truly, tonight was one of those nights that I dreamed about when I had children of my own.  The boys were so excited about going door to door, they were polite, didn't take too much, and they loved seeing all the decorations.  They each got to eat one candy when we got back to my mom's (M&M's and a mini-Snickers) and they surprisingly stayed awake for the drive home.  It was such a dream of a night and I am so grateful to have my family to celebrate with us.  

Getting ready
My vampire

my lion

Julian's billowing cape

About to knock...

Getting their loot!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Winston Playce open for business!!

A brain-child of daddy, we turned our playroom into a soft play room for the boys to play over the Labor Day weekend in September. "Just like My Gym!" is what Julian said as he ran into it for the first time.  Since then it has become a hit in our house and the boys - and their little friends - just LOVE it.  We are hoping to add onto the room for Christmas.  Grandma hasn't had a chance to see the room so here are some very belated pictures of the new romping room.  Folks with kiddos, you are welcome anytime!  Favorite thing to do in the room?  Obstacle courses! 

Family Music Class

We decided not to put Julian in preschool this fall and find activities to do as a family instead.  It was a hard decision as we really enjoyed our home school preschool coop last year and thought we would continue that this year, but between our Bradley playgroup that still meets weekly (since January 2008) plus my La Leche League leader commitments, we wanted to find something that we could do together as a family with minimal expectations. I did a little research and we enrolled for family swim classes through the county Parks system and a Music Together class which we started in September.

As you know, Julian has music in his bones and I really wanted a class that would teach him more about music than we do at home.  Another big bonus of the class is that it's age appropriate for both Julian AND Dash and finding a class for both of them plus mommy isn't always easy, or at least, convenient.  A friend of mine took a Music Together class with her daughter who is Julian's age and gave them a glowing review so we were very excited to start.

The class has been AWESOME.  The music caught on quickly and it has rapidly become a regular part of our CD rotation in the van.  (Also on our rotation are the Wiggles, Rocknoceros, and some Julian-selected 'rock and roll').  Daddy has also gotten in on the action at home.  Since he can't come to class with us, he learned the music to play it on the guitar so we can sing the songs together at home.  Truly, it's been a fabulous experience.

If you haven't heard of Music Together before, it has a set of songs that are geared to how children hear and learn.  The music focuses on tonal intervals consistent with how children begin to talk.  Some of the songs are familiar while some are new to us so that has kept the kids quite entertained.  They have a different set of songs for each session of the year, with the summer session being "Song Favorites."  Apparently you can take a Music Together class for three years straight and never hear the same song twice.  Amazing, right?  They know their stuff for sure! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Recipe: Italian Bean & Squash Soup

As some of you have seen on Facebook, we have been cooking up a STORM around here lately. After we watched Forks Over Knives, Thad has been much more open to trying a more plant-based diet.  I've been a vegetarian on and off since I was about 15 and when we met, I was eating veggie when Thad and I met 7 years ago.  He's always been supportive of my eating preference but despite my vegan/veggie books I leave laying around hasn't embraced it as much as I would have hoped.  Now, though, he's more open and I am so grateful that we can share in this journey together.  I think that how we eat, like everything else in life, is a journey.  How we choose to feed ourselves - both body and soul - is fluid and evolves.  I've decided that I am going to post successful recipes here for you all to enjoy, too, because while I wish I could share these meals with you in person, that isn't always so easy.  So enjoy and let me know what works for you, too!  Here is tonight's meal, courtesy of Moosewood Restaurant New Classics.

Italian Bean & Squash Soup

Services 6-8
Total Time: 30-40 minutes

1 T olive oil
3 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
6 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 celery stalk, preferably with some leaves, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups crushed canned tomatoes with their juice (15 oz can)
1 qt vegetable broth
1 t dried oregano
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
4 c diced peeled butternut squash
3 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans (two 15-oz cans, rinced and drained)
1 t salt
coarsely ground black pepper to taste
freshly grated Pecorino cheese (optional)

In a large nonreactive soup pot, heat the oil on medium heat.  Add the onions, garlic, and celery and saute until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add the crushed tomatoes, broth, oregano, and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer.  Stir in the squash and cook until tender, 10-15 minutes.  Add the beans and salt and continue to cook until the beans are thoroughly heated.  Add black pepper to taste.  Serve hot topped with freshly grated cheese, if desired.