Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Being:: Timeless at Rhythm of the Home today

Good morning, all!

I'm guest posting at Rhythm of the Home today, and I hope you'll pop on over for a visit! It's my last post as one of two contributing writers for January, and I've chosen to write about the experience of being "timeless" last week, when my watch broke and I was forced to measure my time in a different way. I hope you'll take a look and leave a comment!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

To the Table (and gluten free lasagna)

Sometimes I think the ritual of meal preparation is just as... maybe even more... important than the meal itself. Eating is fantastic of course, but the real love goes into the making of the meal: selecting the most healthful ingredients and carefully assembling them to create a tasty reason for loved ones to gather around the table. It's beautiful, really; rather elegant in it's simplicity.

I paused to savor the experience of making dinner yesterday, and snapped some photos to share. (And the recipe too of course!) Some dear friends were coming to share the meal, and I found myself, as I sprinkled basil and parsely into the sauce, warmly anticipating the taste of the lasagna and the feel of conversation with kindred spirits. The children would eat quickly and ask to be excused, returning to their games, and we adults would linger at the table with a glass of wine smiling, teasing, and loving.

It began with a salad, while not made with our garden's produce (it is January, after all), still organic and from local farms with gangbuster greenhouses. And of course, still made by many little helpers.

 Next came the garlic bread, made from our own garlic, homemade butter and gluten free bread. (I used this bread recipe.)
 In truth, I don't always care for lasagna, but everyone else at my table really, really does. I make it a few times a year to humor those who call it a favorite dish, and smile inwardly that I can bring such joy to my family with such a small effort.

Ready for the recipe?

You will need:
1 lb. ground beef (can be omitted for a vegetarian version- simply add 2 extra cups of chopped veggies such as green pepper or more squash and zucchini)
2 small onions, chopped
6 cloves of crushed garlic
4 cups of vegetable juice
1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
2 cups fresh mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 cup summer squash, diced
1 cup zucchini, diced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 package gluten free lasagna noodles, uncooked
3 cups cottage cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

The Process:
Brown the beef in a large saucepan with onion and garlic. Drain excess liquid.
Add mushrooms, summer squash and zucchini to the saucepan and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the vegetable juice, tomato paste, oregano, basil, parsley and pepper. Simmer with beef mixture for 30 minutes. The sauce will thicken during this time. Pause to remember the people you're about to nourish and love with the gift of good food.

While the sauce simmers and thickens, place uncooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 baking dish.
When the sauce is finished, layer half of it on top of the noodles in the baking dish. Next, add the cottage cheese.
Add another layer of noodles on top of cottage cheese, then add the rest of the sauce. Picture the smiles you will receive as your family eats this meal together.
Top with mozzarella cheese and cover with foil. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, then remove foil and continue baking for an additional 15 minutes. Let stand 20 minutes before serving.

Last, grate the parmesan and sprinkle over the top of the finished lasagna.
Serve with salad and garlic bread, if desired. To be eaten amongst good friends, in good spirits. 

What meals to do you serve to loved ones to fill up both their bellies and their hearts?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Under the Weather Post at Rhythym of the Home

Hi all,

I've got another guest post up over at Rhythm of the Home today. This one is about how very, very sick we've been with the flu this past week, and the lovely little hidden blessings we found in our convelescence.

Please stop by to have a read!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Lesson Plan and Supply List

Tonight I'd like to share with you what we are planning to do in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. day this Monday, just in case you'd like to quickly print off my supply list and head to the store (or better yet, your craft closet) tomorrow. We've had the flu all week (more on that later), so we've called off school- and everything else, for that matter- for nearly a week. I'm being optimistic as I write out this plan, thinking that we'll all be physically and emotionally well enough to tackle such an encompassing and often difficult topic. But, optimism never hurt anyone, so here goes... !
Image from First Grade Parade

While making breakfast on Monday morning, I'll ask the kids to help me make the eggs. I'll take out a white, brown and (just for fun) a blue egg for them to wash. While they do, I'll use this great mini lesson from First Grade Parade to demonstrate how we're all the same on the inside, regardless of what's outside. I LOVE concrete learning for little ones!

Deb at Living Montessori Now posted this video on her MLK Pinterest board, and I really love it's simplicity. I'll be using this video to take our conversation from breakfast food to people.
We'll discuss this video and I'll explain to the children that the third Monday in January is a special day when we all recognize the efforts of this special man. It will take some explaining- our children are still very much on the younger side of understanding complex racial issues, but we'll talk about how our country was not always the welcoming place that it is today, and even though it still isn't perfect, we try very hard to love one another regardless of our differences.

I predict that the concept the kids will be in tune with from this video and short discussion will be that of "fairness." This is a "big person" ideal that really speaks to the heart of a child's budding sense of morality, so it's going to be a very hot topic this year at our house. As soon as I explain that African American people were living under laws (rules) which were unfair I'm going to have a lot of questions and indignation, and I am anticipating a fair amount of relating the unfairness in their own little lives to the bigger unfairness of the world at large. I'll encourage that thinking- it's important for them to be able to make sense of the information in their own way.

To illustrate what it would be like to not be allowed to do something just because of something silly and arbitrary, like the color of one's skin, I will use this Lego block demonstration from Twiggle Magazine. Since we are big-time Lego fans around here, the kids will surely feel a sense of injustice at being told they can only play with one or another color of Legos!

We will most certainly be playing this animated video by Daria, all day long. It's got a great folk-tune sound and it is being provided free of charge on Daria's website. The refrain is "I have a dream" which will lead us right into dreaming about the world that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. might have envisioned...
Free printable and picture from Welcome to Room 36

...or that my little ones envision as being "fair and just". Welcome to Room 36 offers some great ideas to celebrate here, but the one I'll be using is her free printable (shown above), which encourages children to think about what their own dream for the world might be. I can't wait to hear what they think up!

[As an aside, I wouldn't typically use two videos to discuss a topic with the kids because I try to tread lightly on the screen time exposure- even for academic purposes- but I might also show the kids this video from Brain Pop, also recommended by Welcome to Room 36. It's very well done, and it connects Dr. King's involvement with Rosa Parks better than the first video, and we studied Rosa Parks in-depth last year during Black History Month. Depending upon mood and interest level, I may push to show this video, too.]

Last, I'll ask the children to help me establish a peace table, or a peace space, in our home. The world was so intolerant of differences before Dr. King began his work because people allowed hate to enter their hearts and change their paths. Drawing much inspiration from this round-up post by Deb at Living Montessori now, I'll ask the children to help me find a quiet space, and to collect some items from our home which help them to calm themselves. I'll ask them to think about how much harder it is to be angry and to think we hate others when we're calm, in a loving space. I'll share the idea that our world still isn't perfect, despite all the good work that Dr. King and others have done, so it is important that we all learn to calm ourselves and to (in our faith system) ask God for help and guidance before we act unfairly.

I can't wait to post some pictures about how our day goes. I wish you the best with yours, however you're celebrating!

Activity Supply List:

Egg demonstration:
At least two eggs (more if you want to feed your family!), one black and one white
A plate or pan to break them into
Access to a computer and internet connection

Lego Simulation:
Red/Blue colored dots (or any other two colors, could use markers to mark childrens' hands as well)
Bin of assorted colored Legos

MLK Song:
Access to a computer and internet connection

I can Dream Like Dr. King writing/drawing exercise:
Number of printables necessary for each child you're teaching to have one
Crayons/markers/colored pencils for writing and decorating 

Creating a Peace Space:
A quiet(er) space or table you don't mind giving over to children's needs
An assortment of peace-related items like mandalas, meditation balls, a flameless candle, pictures, plants, a small water fountain or sand garden... anything that symbolizes peace to your child

Looking for More ideas to help your children and family celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr Day? Check out my MLK and Black History Month Pinterest Board!

In case you're wondering, Mama won't be left out in the observation of this day, either. I'll be listening to the full speech, lighting a candle in memory, and saying a prayer of thanks for those who have gone before us to make our world just a little bit better for our children to inherit.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Being: In the Spirit of Service Guest Post

Today I'm over at Rhythm of the Home posting about those little moments when the spirit of a child shows us the way to love in service of others. Come check it out!

Monday, January 7, 2013

"Being Mama" at Rhythm of the Home today

Hi all!

I'm posting over at Rhythm of the Home today, as part of their monthly Being series. I'll be posting new insights on parenting, natural living and a variety of other topics there throughout the month, so please- come on over to check out my post, and all of the incredible authors and bloggers who are sharing their moments of mindfulness!

My post this week is entitled "being Mama" and it discusses my recent considerations on the nature of mothering, particularly as viewed  through Kahlil Gibran's lens. It's a quick read and I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Beautiful Epiphany

Today was a day of rhythm and grace, and of saying goodbye to another lovely Christmas with family and friends. We began our morning with our church family celebrating an Epiphany party with the little ones (I’ll post more on that tomorrow), and then enjoyed an afternoon of quiet family activities.

It’s our family’s tradition to wait until January 6th to take down the Christmas decorations (except, of course, for the ones I’ve sheepishly squirreled away already when the “fullness” of our house at Christmas time becomes just a bit more than my patience can bear). We end the season much as we began it: around the tree, holding the ornaments for a few extra moments, relishing the memories they evoke. My creative souls fuss over which trinket goes best where, and we giggle about the ones that fall down amongst the branches. We listen to soft music and turn the lights down low.

Coming now is a season of rest. With cold winter days there will be plenty of time to snuggle inside, to make warm soups and to read good books. The outdoor explorations will come with great anticipation as well, and our bodies will be tired and sore after many. But this will be a time of gentle waiting and watching, basking in the sun’s glow a little longer each day. Good byes are difficult sometimes, especially for the littlest ones among us, and yet the promise of what’s to come is too enticing to be denied.

So, tonight we bid our lovely tree a farewell, and we look toward the next season to share.

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