Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Few Things

1.) 16 Days of school left. But who's counting?

2.) It's sunny. It's dry. It's pushing 80 degrees. Eli has declared it Popsicle season.

3.) We have been hitting the jackpot in the children's book department at the library. Seriously, our bedtime reading time is up to about an hour every night because we are loving our current books!

Here are some of our favorites.

Journey by Aaron Becker is a wordless book with a story of imagination, adventure, and friendship. The boys tell the story themselves, changing little details every time. I love this book!

 One Dark Night by Hazel Hutchins is our absolute favorite. We will probably buy this one. It's about a boy watching through a window as a storm approaches. You count down between the lightning and the thunder as the storm gets closer. It is exciting, yet sweet.

 The Lion and The Bird, by Marianne Dubuc, is a heartwarming story about an unlikely friendship between a lion and a bird who didn't make it south in time for winter. It is cozy and refreshing.

And my favorite recent find from the library, and honestly the first book I've read cover to cover in months (I'm in the middle of about 15 more), Yes, Please, by Amy Poehler. If you are a fan of Saturday Night Live, any Amy Poehler movie (or Tina Fey, or Seth Myers - they are mentioned a LOT), or anything funny, you will enjoy this book. It's hilarious.

Okay, enough about books.

4.) We have a budding musician in our house. After just a couple of months of lessons, Lex is getting ready to perform in his first piano recital, and I am THAT mom. The one who is taking endless videos of him practicing and showing them to everyone, the one who has tried his shirt and tie on him half a dozen times to make sure it looks just right, and the one who will probably cry when he plays Friday night. I am so proud of him, and so happy that he has found something that he loves to do.

And, yes, he's rocking out with a Peavey amplifier. Jeremy bought it used, and let me tell you, you haven't heard Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, until you've heard it blasting out of an amp.

5.)  Spring!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Into the Wild

Our first spring hike was one of necessity, or at least one with a mission. A teacher friend found the tiniest, baby snapping turtle walking down her road last week. Knowing how our students would love such a find, she researched snapping turtles, and built him a miniature habitat, suitable for a trip to school. Our classrooms both shared him for a day and watched some YouTube videos to learn about snapping turtles. My students adored him so much that I think it is inevitable that I will need to eventually get a classroom pet.

So anyway, after a day at school, I brought him home for the boys to see. "Jeff," as my students named him, was a big hit with Lex and Eli as well. They found him a toy to play with, carefully observed him, and let him walk around our house and our front yard under their watchful eyes.

"Jeff" with a toy lizard the boys found.
After a day and a half in captivity, I felt like it was time to let Jeff go. He needed to be in the wild to grow into the turtle he was meant to be. I started preparing the boys. This was going to be a rough release, especially since there were shed tears over a centipede I told them to release into the front yard earlier in the weekend.

Sunday was cloudy, but perfect for a spring hike with jackets. Three Creeks, here we come!

Here we go, heading down the hill. Jeremy held on to Jeff for safe travels.

Look! Wild flowers. Ahhhh - spring!

And then we were to the creek, where with all the recent rain, there was actually some flowing water. We set Jeff down right by the creek, and he sat there sunbathing for a few minutes before he quickly (as quickly as tiny turtles go) headed towards the water. He stood on the edge and then dove, and I say dove in the truest sense of the word, into the water. His happy, bobbing head proved we brought him to the right place. Even the boys thought he looked happy. We all waved goodbye to Jeff and the boys promised they would come back to look for him this summer.

With rain clouds looming, we headed back up the trail.

Our boys have become proficient at this trail. If only this picture showed how steep this part is. But they absolutely love it.... and for the record, we are constantly teaching them how to be safe on the trail. It is not a free for all.

Oh my sweet boy. When did you get this big?

And this funny? You are my sunshine.

My boys, my boys. What a great first hike of the season.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

What Do You Get?

We've been reading a really cool non-fiction book about rainforests at bedtime, and Lex and Eli both love the little sidebar jokes in it. It's really entertaining to me, because half the time they just laugh at the joke because I'm laughing, not because they understand the joke. Except this one. Lex wanted me to keep repeating it, and I kept explaining it to him, until he could finally tell it on his own (and explain why it's funny). His first joke. I'm so proud. Enjoy.

Green Chili Stew

I found an amazing recipe a couple of weeks ago and can't wait to share it. It is so different from the meals on our regular rotation and we all loved it. My only regret is not making a double batch because I really would have loved to have had leftovers all week. I slightly adapted it from the original.

The ingredients are few and simple.

 Here's the list of what you'll need.
2 lbs. boneless pork loin roast, with fat trimmed off (not pictured above)
Salt and pepper to taste
A couple of tablespoons oil
2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup diced onion
10 oz can whole green chiles, sliced
1 jalapeno, finely diced (and seeded if you don't want the heat)
10 oz can diced tomatoes and green chilies
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 T. cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

I did this all in a dutch oven, but the original recipe was cooked in a crock pot, so it's your call. 

Start by cutting the pork into 2 inch pieces. If you can, ask your butcher to do this for you. For sure, this is the most time consuming part of the recipe. Season the pork with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Brown the pork on all sides, about 3 minutes on each side.

 Add the flour to the pork, and stir together.

Are you ready for the easy part? Here it goes. Dump everything else into the pot, and stir together. I love these kinds of recipes. Your prep work is now complete.

Look how colorful. And oh my goodness. Your house will smell so good!

 Now just cover it and bake at about 300 degrees for 4 hours.

The end result is this hearty, deep flavored, beautiful stew. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 We served it over homemade mashed potatoes and green beans on the side. It was so delicious and the boys loved it.

Seriously, make a double batch.