Friday, September 21, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pudding (Shhh, it's healthy)

(31 Months)

We love chocolate avocado pudding.  We've been making Edible Perspective's recipe for months now (it's so yummy). This time, I wanted to switch things up a bit- so we played with the ingredients and a new (healthy) snack/dessert/special lunch treat was born.

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pudding
Makes two toddler-sized servings (or one hungry mommy serving)

1 ripe Haas avocado
1 ripe banana
1/4 cup of unsweetened, dark cocoa powder
2 Tbsp of peanut butter
2 Tbsp of honey
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Blend everything together in a food processor.  Enjoy!

This recipe does come with a warning though- as you can see for yourself, it's a bit messy (or maybe that's just my kidabunks).   I should have taken a picture when they were finished eating, but there was pudding EVERYWHERE.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Memory Game and Calendar Time

(31 Months)

An unexpected teachable moment for mommy.

I wanted to find out which pieces from our Thomas the Train Memory Game we were missing, so I emptied the box onto the playroom floor and began flipping all the play pieces over.  Wild One asked what I was doing, and I explained that I was going to find the match of each piece.  He then started scanning approximately 40 pieces and began finding matches!  No way, it had to be a fluke.  Another match, then another and another.  The boy found all 20-something pairs (and that's with Little Miss taking some of the pieces and hiding them in her pencil pouch).  I would never have laid out that many pieces, I would have tried four sets, then worked up to ten.  I would never have tried that many.  I loved watching him make those matches, he was so proud- so was I.

Another proud moment was during Calendar Time this morning.  Little Miss and Wild One surprised me and sang (almost perfectly) the Days of the Week song.  It's incredible how easily they can remember something if it's set to music.  I guess that's why Schoolhouse Rock has stood the test of time.

This morning they took turns playing "teacher" and asking one another questions based upon our Calendar Time board.  It was so cute to watch, although they kept giving each other the answers.  "Can you find the trapezoid? (extremely short pause) It's right here.  Do you see it?"  I love watching them.

Making Larabars (with preschoolers) is Easy as 1-2-3

(31 Months)

We're eating so many homemade Larabars, that I'm thinking about buying stock in dates.  It's amazing I've never eaten a date before and now I'm finding they are one of the staring ingredients in most of my kids' cookies, muffins and snack bars.

This morning we made a batch of Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Larabars from Foodie with Family.  We've been wanting to make these for awhile now.  Peanut butter and chocolate chip?  C'mon, who's not going to want these?  These are good- but for some reason, I was expecting a Reece's Peanut Butter  Cup.  Yes, I know I have high, and sometimes unrealistic expectations.  If you're going to try just one, our favorite chocolate Larabar is still from Roxana's Home Baking.  She made a chocolate chip brownie bar that is so fudgy and delicious that I found myself sneaking them after the kids went to sleep.

The kidabunks love watching and helping me bake/cook in the kitchen.  More often than not, if I'm in the kitchen they are on their step stool watching or helping me.

I love doing quick and easy baking projects with the kids and this is definitely one of the easiest there is.  The ingredient list is short (dates, dark chocolate chips, almonds and peanut butter), if something spills it doesn't make a mess, measuring is simple and everything is combined in a Cuisinart.  The entire process takes just minutes to assemble, and then it needs to "rest" for about an hour to harden.  It really couldn't be more toddler friendly.

What you don't see:
While we were measuring and pouring ingredients, Little Miss "needed" to try a chocolate chip. 
Wild One loved pressing the button on the food processor a little too much.  I'm so glad it has a      safety switch that prevents the machine from working unless the lid is locked in place.

Monday, September 10, 2012

"I love school" Thank You Calendar Time

(31 Months)

My cheeks hurt from grinning like the Cheshire Cat.  We had our first Calendar Time this morning and the kidabunks loved it.  They even sat on their mats, listened to directions and followed instructions.  I'm telling you this school board is magical - WILD ONE sat still (well, for a little while).

We began by inviting them over to sit on their mats with a special friend.  Little Miss chose one of her tiny teddy bears and Wild One choose his blue nosed puppy.  So far, so good.  Next, I introduced them to the school board and let them just look it over.  We began at the top, I told them today's date.  Then we clapped to ten.

We sang the Days of the Week song.  I tried to explain the concepts of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.   They took turns placing each of the place holders in their respective days.  We looked out the window and saw that it was sunny and beautiful, then we looked at each of the symbols and put on the correct sunny card on Monday.  We talked about Summer and how the weather is really warm, and all of the fun things that we do in summer.

Next we looked at what we'll be working on this week.  We sang the Leap Frog song, "the E says eh, the E says eh.  Every letter makes a sound, the E says eh."  I pointed to the word pink and then asked the kiddos that on the count of three to try and find two things that are pink.  Little Miss quickly ran and grabbed a big and small Abby Cadaby and Wild One found a big and small pig.  

Then we discussed the rectangle and we went around the room grabbing objects that are rectangular (books, lids, sheets of paper, a shoe box, picture frames, the cookie trays...).  We practiced saying "at" and I said we'll come back to that one later.  

We sang the Months of the Year song, while pointing out each month on the board.  Wild One decided that he wanted to point out the names of the months while we were singing.

We read the poster All About Number 2, and then we went off finding pairs of objects.  We made a huge mess, my fault- I should have said just find one pair of objects.  I was brought animals, trains, pillows, coffee/tea cups, books...  I'll try and remember tomorrow to just let them show and tell two sets each.

We played point to the shape on the Shape poster.  We didn't spend much time on it, I noticed that I started losing their attention.

Then we moved onto the _at blocks.  I was so surprised at how quickly Wild One picked it up.  He loved playing school and kept wanting to say the word over and over again.  I'm so proud of my little man.  Little Miss decided it was time for her baby to eat breakfast, so she began cooking for her in their kitchen.  I noticed that she was watching her brother while cooking.
These were so easy to put together.  I didn't write on the blocks themselves.  I placed tape on the blocks and then wrote on the tape (that way we can use the blocks for other word families).

After we finished with the blocks, Little Miss came over and wanted to play.  I asked Wild One to show his sister what he was working on.  He lit up and said "I do school!"  He told his sister that a-t is at.  Look at my little teacher!  I'm so proud.

We played again with our Pinkalicious play-doh.  We made sandwiches, pancakes, faces, poked holes with pretend carrots, made textured patterns with pretend corn, and then it was time for lunch.  What a fun morning!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Calendar Time

(31 Months)

I've been wanting to making this board for several weeks now.  Calendar time offers so much learning in one confined space.  For the past few weeks, after the kidabunks were asleep in bed for the night I searched blog after blog, Pinterest board after board, looking for ideas.  The process seemed to be too time-consuming to tackle during a once-a-day, hour long nap.  Then, one wonderful day last week they took a two-hour nap (two glorious uninterrupted hours).  It was the jump start I needed to get this project underway.  Once I started, it actually came together pretty quickly (although not as fast as homemade play-doh).  

I had certain goals that I wanted to accomplish in using this board, which determined the material that I placed on the board.  My goals over the next year+ are to practice learning:
  • the days of the week (in order)
  • the months of the year (in order)
  • the concept of yesterday, today and tomorrow
  • what the weather is outside (cloudy, sunny, rainy)
  • the names of the seasons and our current season
  • learning about each number 
  • learning numbers in sequence, through a real-world number line
  • begin learning about word families
  • understand that there are several ways to draw a basic shape
  • practice in forming letters (out of shaving cream, play doh, blocks, sticks, pom poms) 
  • -this one is for me, I wanted a board that requires little time to update, and that will grow with the kidabunks for the next two plus years.

The board is finally finished!  The ideas and inspiration came from my Pinterest board and Today's Weather is a free printable from Homeschool Creations (thank you, to all of you incredible mommies out there for posting your terrific ideas).  We're going to start using the board tomorrow and I have a lot of fun activities planned for us that I'm so excited to share with the kidabunks.

We sing the Days of the Week song to the tune of "Oh My Darlin'"-
There are seven days,
there are seven days, 
there are seven days in a week.
There are seven days,
there are seven days,
there are seven days in a week.
Sunday, Monday
Tuesday, Wednesday
Thursday, Friday

Sunday, Monday
Tuesday, Wednesday
Thursday, Friday

We sing the Months of the Year song to the tune of "Ten Little Indians" - 
January, February, March and April
May, June, July and August
September, October, November, December
Those are the months of the year
(repeat two or three more times)

I'm so excited for tomorrow!

Pinkalicious Play-Doh

(31 Months)

It was a rainy day.  Too wet to go outside.  Mommy said, "Let's make some Play-doh.  What color do you want?"  Little Miss said, "Pink. Pink, pink, pink."  And so began our first time making Play-doh.

I have to admit, I've been curious about making homemade play-doh.  I kept thinking to myself, who has the time to make play-doh, when we can buy it for just a few dollars? Today was a perfect day to try making the play-doh, since I don't like going shopping in the rain.

It was surprisingly easy and took less than 15 minutes from start (gathering materials) to finish (packing it away).  I used Art Nest's fantastic recipe, except used less salt (we used 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon).  We mixed all the ingredients into a large nonstick frying pan, then turned the heat onto medium-low and stirred occasionally for six minutes.  Transferred as stated onto a sheet of wax paper and began kneading.  That was it!  It's so soft and I should warn you, kneading warm play-doh is very relaxing.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Larabar Love & Gelato Learning

(31 Months)

We love Larabars.  I made my first one, several months ago, after reading rave reviews about the recipe.  It only had four ingredients, so I  gave it a try.  We've been hooked on Larabars ever since.  They are filled with chewy, healthy deliciousness.  They are cinch to make, all that is needed other than the (usually) four ingredients is a food processor.  No oven, no chopping with a knife.  There are few things in life that are this simple to make.  With that said, they do need to be refrigerated (unlike the real Larabars that are packaged to maintain freshness), so it's not a great emergency snack that's kept in the backpack/diaper bag/purse- your best bet is to keep a real Larabar.

Here are our favorites:
Happy Healthy Mama's Peanut Butter Cookie- Maryea was the one who hooked me on making Larabars.  I love her site, she's a genius!
Delicious Organic's Pecan Pie- This is sweeeeet, but it tastes just like the filling of a homemade pecan pie.  Just a bite or two will satisfy that nagging sweet tooth craving.
Roxana's Home Baking's Chocolate Chip Brownie- These are incredibly fudgy and addicting (use 1/4 tsp of salt, instead of 1/8 tsp).  This is their absolute favorite (ok, and mine).  They have asked for this one again and again, "Momma, please can I have a chocolate bar."  I love saying yes (as I secretly giggle - ha ha, it's not a chocolate bar).  I knew as I was making this that it would be an immediate favorite with Little Miss, she loves anything chocolatey.
Two By the Sea's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough- We used cashews instead of almonds, because that is what Larabar uses in their bar.

I'm hoping that when Wild One and Little Miss have children (several decades from now), that they pass along these recipes that they loved to their itty bitties.  Right now, it's pretty easy getting them to eat healthy.  I hope it's always like this.

Speaking of healthy... So... we were at the Farmers Market and the kiddos wanted an iced tea from one of the usual vendors.  Of course, she wasn't there this week and they were asking over and over again for an iced tea.  My husband loves to spoil the kidabunks, so he chimes in- who wants some gelato.  To which both kids immediately smiled, eyes lit up, and started asking for gelato.  We're lucky to have an incredible mom and pop Italian gelataria where they hold the Farmers Market.  There the four of us were at 10:30, yes 10:30 in the morning having gelato.  To which my husband responds, "it's healthier than ice cream."  When we asked the kids which flavors they wanted, Little Miss said "pink, pink, pink pink" and Wild One said "brown" (can you tell that they don't get a lot of ice cream- pink? brown?).  It wasn't my idea to have gelato for second breakfast.  I wasn't too happy about it before we walked in, but seeing their excited faces as they were handed cups of gelato was priceless.

Are you ready for this?  Here is how eating gelato at 10:30 in the morning is a learning opportunity.  Look at that hand-eye coordination.  Do you see those pincer muscles working to grasp the tiny gelato spatula?  Ohh, colors- reinforcing pink is strawberry and brown is chocolate.  Sharing!  Wild One was awesome with sharing.  At first he thought we were spooning onto a second spoon for him (not for us), so he kept taking the spoon with the chocolate gelato and eating it.  Then when we told him that we wanted a taste too, he gladly shared.  Now, Little Miss on the other hand.  Well, they have been opposites in almost every aspect of their young lives and this was no exception.  She actually started saying (loudly), "no, no (Daddy/Mommy) don't eat my ice cream".  We had to have a quick talk about the importance of sharing, although to be fair I don't like sharing my desserts either.  The one thing they both had in common, was saying that the ice cream melted or disappeared on them and that they needed (not wanted, needed) more please.