Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lentil Couscous Tacos


     The Sugar Snaps and I are vegetarian and Greg is happy to eat vegetarian at home.  I am careful to make sure that we are getting enough protein and nutrients in our diet.  For the most part, the Sugar Snaps are not picky eaters and love veggie sources of protein like lentils, chick peas and black beans.  I made lentil couscous tacos last week and they were quite excited.

Lentil Couscous Tacos

You will need:
  • 2 Cups brown lentils (rinsed and sorted)
  • 4 1/4-4 1/2 Cups vegetable broth
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion (about 1 2/3 Cups chopped)
  • 2 Tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 1 5.6 oz box of couscous (or equivalent amount) (I used  Near East Roasted Garlic flavor)
  • Taco shells (We like the kind that stand up on their own as they are easier to fill)
  • 1-2 Cups shredded cheese (flavor of your choice)
  • 1-2 Cups prepared salsa
  • Taco sauce (if desired)
  • Shredded lettuce (if desired)
  • Guacamole (if desired)

     Chop the onion.  Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and cook in the same pan that you plan to cook the lentils until soft (not brown), about 8 minutes (stirring occasionally).  Raise the heat to medium high.  Add 4 cups of vegetable broth, lentils and taco seasonings.  Cook until the lentils reach the desired amount of tenderness using the extra 1/4 to 1/2 cup of broth and/or added water if desired. The liquid should be absorbed.  Cook couscous according to package directions.  If you are not using couscous with seasoning, you may wish to add seasonings.

     Heat taco shells in the oven if desired.  Serve by placing taco shells on a plate or in a basket. Have a bowl of  cheese, one of salsa, one with lentils and one with couscous. You could also add shredded lettuce and guacamole to the options if desired.   This could be a make your own taco station, or you can assemble and plate the tacos.  We put the lentils in the shells, followed by couscous, salsa and cheese.  These were a big hit with the Sugar Snaps who also enjoyed the leftovers. Have you made lentil tacos?  I'd love to hear from you.  As always, comments are welcome.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Torn Tissue Paper Eggs

     I found plastic eggs at the dollar store and decided they would make a fun craft.  I have done lots of torn tissue crafts over the years, especially when I used to work as a recreation director.  I had never tried it on plastic eggs, so we gave it a shot.  It was actually really easy and the Sugar Snaps loved doing it.  The way I chose to do it, the eggs are glued together in the end so they are for decorative purposes rather than for candy.  If you wanted to, you could decorate each part of the egg separately so that they are also functional to be stuffed later.  I think for preschool age, it is easier to make the eggs as one piece though.

Torn Tissue Paper Decorated Plastic Eggs:

You Will Need:

  • Tissue paper in various colors (I found it at the local dollar store)
  • Plastic eggs (This can also be found at dollar store)
  • Mod Podge (or white glue and water)
  • Paint Brush
  • Bowl (to put torn tissue paper in)
  • Egg Carton (to dry the eggs)

     Have your children tear the tissue paper into small pieces (which is great fine motor practice) and place the torn tissue into a bowl.  Have them paint the Mod Podge onto the egg and lay torn tissue on top of it.  Then, have your children paint more Mod Podge on top of the torn tissue and smooth the tissue paper with the paint brush or their fingers.  I think it is easier to smooth it with fingers which is what I had the Sugar Snaps do.  Plus, it is more of a sensory experience that way.  You should only need one layer of torn tissue over the egg.  Place wet eggs to dry in an egg carton.  Clean the paint brush right away with soap and water so that the Mod Podge does not dry on the brush.

     I hope you enjoy this fun, easy project.  We had a lot of fun decorating the eggs.  What projects have you been doing this Spring?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Quad Loss---Heartbreak Times Four

     I remember when we were going through our infertility journey. At first, it seemed like we were the only ones.  Then, I became involved in the online infertility community and found out that we were far from alone. Many of us lost babies along the way.  Greg and I heard more than one of our babies' heartbeats, saw them on the monitor only to find out in later weeks that their hearts had stopped beating.  I was carrying a baby inside me that was no longer alive.  There was a procedure to remove our baby from my womb so they could analyze what went wrong. We would never have the chance to look into their eyes or hold them in our arms. We found out some of their genders.  We know for certain that we lost at least one boy and one girl.  We did not find out the gender of the other babies we lost.  When we hear Capri's infectious giggle, we wonder if her sister's laugh would have had a similar sound.  We wonder if our baby boy would have had Xayden's charming voice, Ryder's sweet smile or Grayson's sense of humor.  We found out that since our babies had not been born before they died, many people believed we hadn't suffered a deep loss.  The word 'miscarriage' does not seem like a baby who died. The word itself has a distant sound reminiscent of losing a package in the mail rather than a baby in the womb.

     We were very blessed to have four children at the end of our journey. There have been strangers that have told us, "be careful what you wish for!"  They have no idea.   I had no idea how many people had losses greater than ours on their journeys until I became involved in the multiples community.  Many people, like myself, went from the infertility group to the multiples group either during the multiples pregnancy or after the birth. I joined the local mothers of twins club later in my pregnancy but did not join the online community until several months after our babies were born. I was afraid to get our hopes up only to face loss again.  I have met many women who have joined the multiples community during their pregnancies.  Many of them have faced terrible losses, the kind they don't publish in the paper.  The paper shows happy stories of triplets, quadruplets and more and the exhausted glowing parents. The families that experience awful losses generally do not make the news. 

Jen and Chris Petersen with the ultrasound photo of their quadruplets

     People in the multiples community joined together to send prayers and positive thoughts to Jen and Chris Petersen after they lost one of their four babies she was carrying on March 11th, 2014.  The other three babies seemed like they were going to pull through when suddenly the water broke in one of their sacs causing all three to 'fall' and lose their protective environment.  The other three babies passed away on March 13th in their Daddy's arms..  You might expect Jen and her husband to be bitter or angry.  Instead, they have a strong faith and believe God took their angels to protect Jen's life, though she would have gladly given her life to save theirs. Had this tragedy happened later in the pregnancy, it is likely Jen would have passed away along with the babies. They are choosing to focus on gratitude as they grieve the loss of their babies.  Their unwavering faith and focus on gratitude is an inspiration. It made me take a mirror out and wonder if I would have had that kind of strength and grace in the face of such devastating loss. 

From the Petersen's Go Fund Me page:
"The Fantastic 4, Serenity 3/11/14, Jaxson, Gianna and Gage 3/13/14, went home to be with God."

Chris and Serenity

Jen and three of their babies

The teddy bear belonged to Serenity, their baby girl who passed away two days earlier.
        I have added the Petersen's Go Fund Me page below.  If  you are able, any amount would help them in the burial and medical expenses.  I have also listed the blogs below who are also sharing the Petersen's story and their own stories in order to raise awareness about miscarriage and infant loss.  They will be posting at some time today, so if you pop by and the post is not up yet, check again later.  I would love to hear your feedback.  As always, comments are welcome and appreciated. 
When you get the chance check out the posts from these blogs some time today or tomorrow. 
Blogs that are also raising awareness:


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Snack: Green Pudding & Green Granola Topping

     One thing I love about age 3 is the sense of magic that the Sugar Snaps have about the world around them. I love all the holidays that have come up because they 'get it' now and are so excited by each celebration. This year, I decided to make a green themed snack for them for St. Patrick's Day.   This easy green theme snack could easily be changed to fit Valentine's Day by making it pink or red (or any other holiday by changing the colors).  I also made them green milk to go with dinner.


Green Pudding with Green Granola Topping:

You will need:
  • Granola (1 Cup or desired amount)
  • Green food coloring (I used gel food coloring)
  • Water
  • Wax paper (or parchment paper)
  • Ziploc bag
  • Pudding or yogurt

     Add the granola to a Ziploc bag with a few drops of green food coloring and about a teaspoon of water. Shake it up until the granola is the desired shade of green. Children love to do this step. Then, empty the bag of granola onto a sheet of wax paper and spread it out to dry. Add green food coloring (in desired amount) to either pudding or yogurt and mix until it is the desired shade of green. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve. When the granola is dry, sprinkle it on as a fun topping.  I also made them easy green bracelets using sparkly green pipe cleaners.  I simply cut the pipe cleaner to size and fit it to their wrists (making sure the ends were not poking them).  They were thrilled with their simple accessory.  What did you do for St. Patrick's Day this year?  Any green theme snacks or leprechaun activities?  Please feel free to share in the comments.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Slow cooker Apple Granola Oatmeal


     The Sugar Snaps love oatmeal. When they ask "what's for breakfast?" and the answer is oatmeal their faces light up. So, I have been experimenting with different ways to make oatmeal. I came up with a super easy recipe that can be made in the slow cooker in only an  hour. I am a big fan of tossing ingredients into the slow cooker and having time to do other things while the meal is cooking.

Slow Cooker Apple Granola Oatmeal:
You will need:
  • 2 Cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 Cup granola (The granola I used does not have large clusters)
  • 2 Cups Applesauce
  • 2 Tablespoon butter
  • 4 Cups warm water
  • Slow cooker
  • Cinnamon (if desired)

     Pour two cups of Old Fashioned Oats into your slow cooker followed by one cup of granola. Add two cups of apple sauce and four cups of warm water. Cut the butter into small pieces and mix it in.  Cook on low for one hour or longer depending on the consistency you prefer.  The longer you cook it, the more liquid is absorbed.  That's it! It doesn't get much easier than this. Serve with cinnamon sprinkled on top if desired.  If you try this out, let me know what you think.  What do you like to make in the slow cooker?  I'd love to hear from you.  Comments are welcome.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Oatmeal Canister Shaker Drum with Bling

      I was inspired by Vivian Kirkfield's book, Show Me How, to have the Sugar Snaps create an oatmeal canister drum.  I took her instructions and then added my own spin on it which is something she encourages parents to do.  It is fun to gain inspiration and then take off from there using craft materials I have at home.  I am sharing her original instructions (with her permission) below as well as the instructions for our version of the drum.

Oatmeal Drum:
You will need:
  • Oatmeal or coffee canister with plastic lid
  • Crayons or markers
  • Glue 
  • Construction Paper
  • Spoon for drumming
 Vivian Kirkfield suggests having your child color the construction paper.  Then, glue the pictures around the canister.  Have your child drum to the beat of music with the spoon.

I added some optional elements to our drum, making it a shaker and a drum combined (instructions below).

Oatmeal Canister Shaker Drum with Bling:
You will need:
  • Oatmeal or coffee canister with plastic lid
  • Crayons or markers
  • Construction Paper
  • Rocks
  • Duct Tape
  • Plastic Gems (can be found at some dollar stores and most craft stores)
  • Puff Paint for fabric
  • Spoon for drumming

 Have your children color enough construction paper to cover the canister.

  Find rocks in nature, or your backyard and wash them.


     Have your child put the rocks inside the canister and replace the lid.  Then use the duct tape generously on both the top and bottom of the canister to ensure that the rocks cannot fly out.  Use the duct tape to secure their pictures onto the canister on the top, bottom and sides. Alternatively, you could use glue for this step.

      Have your child squeeze the puff paint onto their construction paper drawing.  We used one that shows as white but dries as clear iridescent with sparkles.

     Have your children place gems on top of the puff paint.  The nice thing about the puff paint is that it is designed to hold on fabric through washings so it keeps the gems secure.  It also looks nice between the gems.  If you don't have puff paint, you can use glue and dot it on where your child would like the gems placed.  

     If you used puff paint, I would suggest waiting at least 24 hours before allowing your children to play with the drum so that the puff paint is completely dry.  As Vivian Kirkfield suggests, it would be fun to have your children drum with a spoon or shake the shaker to their favorite music.   Stay tuned as Vivian Kirkfield has generously offered to give away one copy of her wonderful book, Show Me How, to a lucky Capri + 3 reader.  She has also offered a spectacular price for the book exclusive to Capri + 3 readers.  Have you made instruments with your children?  Feel free to leave links to your instrument posts in the comments.  
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