Monday, August 25, 2008


If you click on “next blog” at the top of this page, you land on a random blog. It could be about anything: families, music, travels, all pics and no text, all text and no pics. And it could be in any language, some recognizable, some not. Because I have small children, my computer time is limited, but I could spend hours just…blogsurfing! They are plain and creative, funny and sad, relatable and totally “out there.” I’m fascinated by people’s desire to share themselves with the world. Some people post pics, but blur the faces, other use initials or “blog names” for the folks they write about. Somewhere I read that a blogger received pics (in her comments?) of her own kids playing in her yard. That’s pretty scary and makes you understand why people want to hide their identity (but still want to share their experiences). I guess there are risks associated with anything that involves other people. So far I’ve gotten nice comments and have used my blog to show co-workers pictures of my girls when I didn’t have an actual photo on me. There is a lot to be learned by blogsurfing. Go ahead, click and see where you land!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Adorable Moment #552

Ava knows all the letters (consonants) and their sounds. We are working on learning to read. So the other day she goes up to the TV and points to the letters beneath the screen: "S-A-N-Y-O" she says. What does that spell?" I ask....."TV!" is the enthusiastic response.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Special Cupcakes

( Sorry, the pics were uploaded in reverse order)
We officially discovered Shelby’s allergies when she was about 6 months old. She’d had a rash on her cheeks for a couple of months that would come and go. Sometimes, she’d have a fine rash all over her body. Because she was exclusively breastfed, I suspected she was reacting to something I was eating. This suggestion was blown off by the pediatrician on the several occasions it was made. I finally insisted that they do an allergy test, even if I had to pay for it. One day before the results came back, Shelby was all of a sudden covered in nickel-sized hives. It looked awful, but she didn’t appear to be uncomfortable. I gave her an oatmeal bath and thought back on what I’d eaten that day. The most recent meal had been scrambled eggs with lots of cheese. It’s the eggs! I thought.
The next day the doctor calls. Shelby is allergic to eggs, milk, peanuts and codfish! Codfish? I’d never heard of an allergy to codfish! Oh, no! I’ll have to take her off the breast! Everything has eggs, milk & peanuts! I wasn’t ready to take her off the breast! She was to be my last baby! I reluctantly weaned her, but after about 2 weeks, I relactated and breastfed her for 5 more months. I figured I needed to lose weight anyway, and anything that had milk and/or eggs in it was probably something I didn’t need to be eating. Amazingly, there’s a lot you can eat. In spite of her dietary restrictions, Shelby is the chunkiest of the bunch. One of her nicknames is Fatburger, Burger for short.
I was going to donate the 2+ gallons of frozen breast milk I had. My habit was to eat a PBJ sandwich while I pumped at work. All the milk was tainted with peanuts, so I couldn’t use it. In the end it had to be thrown away when DH accidentally left the freezer door open and it all thawed out.
So now I am always on the lookout for egg, milk & peanut-free recipes. Any version of a food bought especially for Shelby is called special around here. She has special cookies (Oreos), candy (almost any hard candy) and potato chips (so far Cape Cod is the only milk free brand I’ve found). When grocery shopping, labels always have to be read, as food makers sometimes change the ingredients of their products.
Shelby will be three in November and she is surprisingly cool about her allergies. She has yet to get upset when she’s told she can’t eat something, even when everyone else is eating it (ice cream & cake at bday parties, for instance.) For her birthdays, I’ve found a health food grocery store that has the best vegan chocolate cake! You’d never guess it’s missing most of the usual ingredients!

Glazed Chocolate-Avocado Cupcakes
(Vegetarian Times Sept 2008)

Avocado replaces the eggs and most of the oil in a rich, chocolaty batter that turns out super moist baked goodies.

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
1 avocado, pitted & peeled
1 cup pure maple syrup
¾ cup plain soymilk
1/3 canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

¼ block silken tofu, drained & patted dry
3 tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
4 oz semisweet vegan chocolate chips, melted

To make cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in bowl. Puree avocado in food processor until smooth. Add maple syrup, soymilk, oil, and vanilla and blend until creamy. Whisk avocado mixture into flour mixture.
2. Spoon batter into prepared cupcake cups. Bake 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out with some crumbs attached. Cool.
To make glaze: Blend tofu, maple syrup, vanilla and salt in food processor until smooth. Transfer to bowl. Dip tops of cupcakes in glaze, pulling straight up from glaze to form peaks.
Better than I expected! Next time I might try to make them sweeter by using semi-sweet cocoa or adding a 1/2 cup of sugar. Shelby loved them! These are her first cupcakes ever! They are moist and chocolaty just like the recipes says. Shelby insists on using a fork to eat it so her hands don't get dirty. This from the one who cleaned the table with her shirt...and tongue. I promise the pics were not staged.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Isn't she lovely?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Our Playroom, Future Schoolroom

This is what the room looks like now. The plan is for it to eventually become the "school room." I doubt that our actual schooling will be done here, but it will be where our resources will be housed. DH has said he doesn't want school stuff all over the house, but I don't want to put limits on any enthusiasm that may arise! Right now, we're working at the kitchen table, since that's where we can all sit at the same time. I'm thinking about creating "centers" so that each child is always occupied while I work with the other. In the meantime, I've downloaded 30 stories to the iPod so that one can listen to them whilke I atent to the other. I've gotten great ideas from my Yahoo! group on various centers. I will tell you about them as I get them put together.

Friday, August 8, 2008

getting started with homeschooling

I haven't decided when our fist "official" day of school will be. Finances are not allowing me to order the curricula I want for math & Spanish yet: Right Start Math and La Clase Divertida. I've been working with Ava on her sight words and she's doing quite well. I'm following the curriculum from We haven't been doing it every day or for more than 15 minutes at a time. We tried and she did very well! I don't think she got that she was actually reading words yet. I told her it was a game, but apparently she didn't find it very much fun, since she only did it for about 5 minutes. We will try again another time. I want our sessions to be fun & interesting to make it easier on both of us. She is only 4, so I will not be pushing...too hard. We call Shelby our little echo, and true to form, she repeated everything her sister said. During sight words, I use the words in a sentence: is as in Ava is a pretty girl. Shelby: "Ava is a pretty girl." Shelby is pretty smart, and I suspect she'll be picking up a lot just from sitting in on her sister's lessons. She already knows most of the letters, so my goal for her is to learn their sounds.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Preschool Literary Influences

Recognize this character? He's the farmer in Fisher Price's "Little People" toy series. I don't know what his official name is, but my girls call him Mr McGregor. For those of you who may not know, Mr McGregor gave Peter Rabbit a hard time when he found him in his garden in Beatrix Potter's Tale of Peter Rabbit.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Frugal Homeschooling

I finally decided to go ahead and “officially” homeschool Ava this year. There are differing opinions out there about whether to HS preschool age children, but I finally decided to go ahead. It won’t be more that 20-40 minutes a day. It will actually depend on her. She is very curious and it seems that the more she learns about something, the more she wants to know. I hope she stays this way! Ava know all her letters (and their sounds), numbers, colors, and shapes. Yesterday she asked what sound does 8 make. This tells me she’s ready for more. I bought the Handwriting Without Tears for pre-K and K at the SE Homeschool expo. I also plan to order the Right Start Math Level A curriculum. We’ll also be adapting some of the curriculum for letterofthe

Then there’s Shelby. Surprisingly, she knows a lot of letters and numbers, too. Because she’s only 2 and a half, I always forget her when it comes to planning & deciding HS issues. I see now that she’ll have to be included, but have yet to figure out how. She’s more independent than Ava, so maybe I’ll do Ava first then Shelby. I haven’t made out an actual schedule, but I do think that having one will keep me motivated to follow through.

There is a mind-boggling amount of info and resources online. I’ll probably be taking this and that from different places to suit our needs.

Friday I went to my favorite store, Goodwill. I was looking for a cork board for the school room (playroom). I’d seen one at Walmart for a $9, and didn’t want to spend that much. I found a HUGE one at Goodwill for $5.05, a globe for $4.04, and a book about the Trail of Tears and other Native American history by a Native American for $2.50! I just LOVE a great deal!