Monday, October 31, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge

I've been wanting to improve my photography skills.  I've been long lamenting that my pictures suck because of my camera.  That may be true to a point, but perhaps I need to learn more about how to use my camera.  So, I'm going to do a study on it, and to encourage me along, I'm doing a 30 Day Photo Challenge done by many bloggers before me.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Benjamin's Pumpkin

Benjamin took great care in picking out this pumpkin.  He wanted to be sure to get a small pumpkin, "just my size."  And he picked up nearly 2 dozen pumpkins to determine if they were the right size.

This morning, we carved his pumpkin.  I scooped out the guts last night, so it was all ready to go for him. I gave him a crayon and he colored on the face for me to cut out.  I did the cutting, he did the poking out of the pieces.

Benjamin's pumpkin 2011

I placed a lit candle inside for him to see it all "spooky, spooky!"  He immediately blew it out and said, "Now we can have birthday cake!!"

Benjamin's pumpkin 2011

Tonight, he made us sing "Happy Birthday" to the pumpkin before he blew out the candle.  :-)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Are you mightier than your child?

I have a few friends who have children the same ages as Benjamin and Miriam, and we keep in touch via Facebook.  As is common in parenting toddlers, behavior and discipline are frequently visited topics.  Sometimes, I'm really appalled by what I read from them!  Spanking and washing out of mouths and expected sleep training!

I think some people believe I am a permissive parent.  I don't believe I am.  We have discipline in the house.  However, we use discipline by this definition: "training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character", whereas it is commonly used by this definition: "control gained by enforcing obedience or order."

Are you mightier than your child?

Benjamin and Miriam are little people.  They have thoughts and needs and wants and wishes.  They have goals they want and need to attain, goals that I did not give them.  Of course, I may view these things as unimportant, but to my 2 year old, making a teetering tower of blocks stand tall on the edge of a soft couch is the most important task he will take on today.  He will fail, and he will get upset.  It will be childish.  But he is a child and I cannot expect him to behave as anything else.  Instead, I will respond to him with compassion, empathizing that it is really frustrating when things don't work out as planned.  That is an adult concept that he can learn.  And he will learn it.  He will respond to me, "Yes, mama, it makes me mad."  I immediately give him the words he can use to express how he feels so that he doesn't need to throw the blocks across the room, and I won't have to suffer through a tantrum that tries my patience and "requires" punishment.

I want to teach my children what it is like to live in an adult world.  Isn't that the goal of parenting, to foster these babies into functioning members of society?  What does spanking teach your child?  That might is right?  I'm bigger than you, so do as I say?

My one year old is learning to put things away.  She has her own idea of what this means though.  After she placed a kitchen towel in the frying pan cabinet, I took it back out and asked her to hang it back on the stove handle.  She told me an emphatic, "No!"  I let her walk away.  She has the right to refuse my requests, just as I have the right to refuse your requests.  Eventually, she will learn that telling me, or anyone, "no" will have natural consequences.  She'll learn that if she doesn't put her shoes away when I ask her to, she won't be able to find them on her way out the door.  She'll learn that other children won't want to play with her if she doesn't do as they ask sometimes.  As an adult, she'll learn that she won't keep a job for very long if she only does things that she likes to do.  But I let her make her own decisions, without fear of disappointing me.

I'm a gentle parent.  I don't stress about my children's behavior.  I believe in natural consequences helping them learn the order of our society.  My children respect me because I respect them.

"Children aren't to be molded; they are little people to be unfolded."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Striped Earflap Hats

I have a goal to knit my kids their winter hats every year.  This year, they got matching hats!

Benjamin's and Miriam's Earflap Hats

Benjamin loves the pom-pom.  It's his "favorite."
Benjamin's Earflap Hat

Miriam likes to play dress-up, so she adores wearing hats because they make her feel pretty!
Miriam's earflap hat

This is a great hat.  It's so fun to knit, and apparently fun to wear!  I would have knit enough hats for the whole family if I thought my husband would wear a hat. :-)

You can knit one too!  The Striped Earflap Hat pattern fully explains how to do jogless stripes and how to add the crochet edging to the hat.  A garter stitch edging is also included as an alternative option.  Details for how to make the ties and pom-pom are also included.  The pattern includes instructions for knitting sizes from newborn (14" head) all the way to large adult (24" head) using a DK weight yarn.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall is definitely here

It is fall here in Wisconsin.  For awhile there, we had a really beautiful Indian summer with temperatures in the 70s and 80s.  But, last weekend came and with it a wind that brought rain and 40s and 50s.  It felt like the right time to take our kids to the pumpkin farm.

Chris and Miriam were checking out the apples in the store because it was almost too windy to be outside.
What happens when you ask Miriam and Daddy to say, "Cheese!"

In the meantime, Benjamin stole an apple!  The shop keeper was nice enough to let him keep it, especially since we bought a 1/2 bushel of apples to take home.
Benjamin's apple

We have an annual tradition of using the "How Big Am I" board at the farm to photograph the kids.
Benjamin  Miriam

Miriam got trapped by pumpkins nearly as big as her!
squished by pumpkins!

And Benjamin picked the perfect pumpkin.
Benjamin's pumpkin!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Split Pea and Bacon Soup

When it comes to kitchen utensils, machines, and gadgets, there is nothing I love more than my crockpot.   It's the traditional 1950's housewife, residing in the kitchen, allowing you to ignore it all day and still churning out magical yumminess at dinnertime.  I have this crockpot (but in white and 10 years old), and I love that it has 4 cook settings plus a "warm" feature to keep your food hot in the event the cooking stops before you have a chance to attend to it.   The only thing I could wish for is that it would have the ability to choose the warm feature without first having to go through the 4-10 hours of cooking.

There are a few staples in my crockpot that I have not branched far from: pot roast, pork and sauerkraut, rotisserie-style chicken, chicken soup, taco soup, and chili.  However, I'm trying to expand our family's diet horizons, introduce new foods to my toddlers (holy cow! I have 2 of them!!), and still keep it nice and easy.  I have been returning to the foods I ate while living in Germany: simple, inexpensive, mostly vegetarian, but extremely delicious foods!  This means a return to legumes.

Split Pea and Bacon Soup

1 pound dried split peas
1 pound bacon
1 medium yellow onion
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cans low-sodium chicken broth (I used Swanson 14.5oz cans)
enough water to make 5 cups liquid when combined with broth (I needed 1 3/8 cup - or 11 ounces)

Dump the split peas into the crockpot and pick through to find any rocks, stones, or withered and discolored peas.  There's no need to presoak your peas if you're cooking in the crockpot.  Slice your bacon into 1/2 inch pieces.  I slice it while frozen and the fat is firmed up.  Don't worry about thawing it after slicing.  Just break it up and toss it on top of your peas.   It'll thaw before you turn the crockpot on.   Chop your onion and toss in the crockpot on top of the bacon and peas.  Sprinkle your salt and pepper on top.  Pour your broth and water over everything.  No need to stir anything.

 Split Pea and Bacon Soup

Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

When it's all done cooking, you can either use a potato masher and mash the peas into oblivion or use a stick blender (my preference) to get a nice smooth soup.

Split Pea and Bacon Soup

Ideally, I'd like to serve this soup with deep fried croutons, but I didn't have any bread to make them from.  Why deep fried?  It keeps the croutons from getting soggy in your soup.  A nice crusty bread is just as good, however!

And I won't pretend this doesn't have a lot of fat.  It uses a whole pound of bacon, in case you hadn't noticed.  I suppose, if you're scared of a little bacon, you'll just have to use the tried and true ham.  But, bacon will win you brownie points with your husband.  Just saying.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

'Tis the Season to Knit

The weather is cooling down, the winds are picking up, the leaves are changing colors, and pumpkins are the latest in decor. For me, this means it's a more comfortable time to pick up the wool and needles and create loving pieces of yarnie goodness for my family and friends!

I joined a 1st Birthday Swap on Ravelry for Miriam's birth group, and I knit up a few things for a special little girl and her mommy. (Check out Lin's parenting blog at This Tiny Spark. She's just starting, but she's a wonderful writer and an even better mommy!)

Little Miss Maya is having a cupcake birthday, so I wanted to stay on that theme. Another mom made Maya a cupcake birthday skirt, so I made her a cupcake onesie to go with.

cupcake onesie

And to completely go cupcake overboard, I knit a pair of Duffers. This slipper pattern is fabulous! Here's my Ravelry project page.

Cupcake birthday duffers

And a little something for momma: A pair of French Press Slippers. Details on my Ravelry project page.

French Press Slippers