Thursday, March 26, 2009

Frito Pie

Our family loves Frito Pie, which is essentially chili with cheese and fritos. My boys eat bowls upon bowls of this! You can use any chili recipe but I like this one that I got from my Mom.

1 lb groud beef
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 c green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can Ranch style beans
1 can black beans (or about 1 c made from dry beans)
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 8 oz tomato sauce (or substitute 1 can tomato soup)
2-3 t chili powder
1-2 t cumin
dash of hot sauce
Brown beef and onions in frying pan. Then combine all ingredients in crockpot or large pot and let simmer for several hours. Top with cheddar cheese and fritos!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Excited about Castellano

I am so excited! After being inspired by this website, and doing a little research on the internet, I set some goals to help facilitate an environment in our home for learning Spanish. My husband, who also speaks Spanish as a second language, is supportive and excited to get going on this, too.
My four goals are:
1. Speak only Spanish on Sundays & Tuesdays; Be happy with our best even if it's not perfect
2. Have a 15-30 minute Spanish session everyday with my kids
3. Incorporate more Spanish music, books & videos into our lives
4. Seek out playdates with other bilingual children

So yesterday we spoke Spanish all day (more or less) and our boys thought it was pretty cool, even if they couldn't understand much of what we were saying. Hopefully that will get easier.

Today, I reserved a corner in our family room for a "Spanish corner" and set out a quilt and some Spanish books. Then I invited my boys to come take a trip with me to Mexico. We pretended like we were putting on our seatbelts and flying through the air and then arrived in Mexico. I transitioned from English to Spanish (though I stopped to explain words every now and then in English). We sang a song in Spanish from Primary that they had heard before in both languages. Then I read a Spanish book we have about Curious George (Jorge el Curioso). They were still having fun so then I transitioned into our little lesson on colors. I had construction papers in red, blue, yellow, orange and green and we echoed back and forth the names, talked about our favorites and ones we didn't like and pointed to different things around the room in those colors, all the while repeating the color names as many times as possible. Then we played Candyland, speaking all in Spanish. It worked really great! We sang one more Spanish song that I got from the book "De Colores and other Latin-American Folk Songs for Children" by Jose-Luis Orozco. (This is a great songbook!) We sang Buenos Dias set to the tune of Frere Jacques and is great because you can echo it back and forth while learning basic Spanish phrases. Finally, I gave them a picture to color and we got back on the airplane. My son was the pilot this time and we landed back in Texas safely without too many fighting or frustrated words.

I'm so pumped to do this again! They had fun and I had fun and I know they learned a thing or two!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Inspired Counsel

Here are the inspiring quotes I loved from the visiting teaching message:
President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985): "Home is a haven against the storms and struggles of life. Spirituality is born and nurtured by daily prayer, scripture study, home gospel discussions and related activities, home evenings, family councils, working and playing together, serving each other, and sharing the gospel with those around us. Spirituality is also nurtured in our actions of patience, kindness, and forgiveness toward each other and in our applying gospel principles in the family circle" ("Therefore I Was Taught," Tambuli, Aug. 1982, 2; Ensign, Jan. 1982, 3).
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: "I call upon members of the Church and on committed parents, grandparents, and extended family members everywhere to hold fast to [the family] proclamation, to make it a banner not unlike General Moroni's 'title of liberty,' and to commit ourselves to live by its precepts. . . .
"In today's world, where Satan's aggression against the family is so prevalent, parents must do all they can to fortify and defend their families. But their efforts may not be enough. Our most basic institution of family desperately needs help and support from the extended family and the public institutions that surround us" ("What Matters Most Is What Lasts Longest," Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2005, 42–43).
Elder Robert S. Wood of the Seventy: "For too many, responsibility seems to end with hand-wringing and exclamations of dismay. Yet talk without action accomplishes little. We need to be vigorously engaged in the world. If our schools are inadequate or destructive of moral values, we must work with fellow members of the community to bring about change. If our neighborhoods are unsafe or unhealthy, we must join with the civic-minded to devise solutions. If our cities and towns are polluted, not only with noxious gases but soul-destroying addictions and smut, we must labor to find legitimate ways to eliminate such filth. . . . We have the responsibility to be a blessing to others, to our nation, to the world" ("On the Responsible Self," Ensign, Mar. 2002, 30–31).

You can see the entire message here: March Visiting Teaching Message

Teaching Colors in a Foreign Language

I thought this was a good article:

My Big Idea

Sometimes I get these big ideas. My Mom had to talk me out of a few of them throughout my life- like going to Russia to teach children English my freshmen year of college- I still wish I could have done that one!

I think my big ideas have simmered down a bit- I've gotten a lot more sensible in my more wise years. After talking with my visiting teacher (in our church we are assigned to visit & watch over a couple of sisters each month & bring a general spiritual message) I was inspired to do two things: #1 Make Sundays better- more like the Sabbath Day it should be and also an enjoyable day for our young children #2 Grow closer to our extended family- we have siblings & cousins & parents all over the country (and soon to be outside the country). I am working on both those and will post ideas for #1 in a later post.

My big idea has to do with #2. Our boys pretty much know the names of all of their relatives and the general ages and even a few birthdays but I thought it would be fun to try to single out a different relative every week or month or so to get to know them better. I used a Spotlight questionnaire from Primary (our church's children's organization) and had my husband and boys help me with the questions. We asked stuff like nickname, favorite songs, dream vacation, embarrassing moment, shoe size, favorite candy, etc. Then I emailed them out to our family and begged for them to respond. (It may take some bribes, as well, for my Northwestern Piano Performance Grad Student Brother to respond.)

The rest of the idea is that every other week or so we'll pull out a spotlight and try to guess who it is. Maybe we can get out some old pictures of them and tell stories or memories we have of that person. Then we can call them or make them a card and send them their favorite candy or something specific like that to show them we love them.

And that's my big idea for the day!

Friday, March 20, 2009


My husband and I both served as missionaries in foreign countries- Spain and Argentina and we love the Spanish language. We have always wanted to maintain our Spanish skills after all the work it took to learn a second language and to teach our children Spanish from a young age. We started out doing great with our first child. We only spoke Spanish at home until our son was about 6 months old. Then we moved in with family while my husband was looking for his first job and things got a bit complicated. Once on our own we tried again except going a week at a time speaking only Spanish and then a week of English. It was exciting to see how much our son was picking up and many of his first words were Spanish- luz, aqua, etc. Then the terrible twos set in and then we had a second child and it got too hard and unfortunately, I gave up.
Lately our boys have taken an interest in learning more Spanish words, asking us how to say things in Spanish and how to count. Today, I discovered a great blog off of another friend's blog called Wanna Jugar with Migo? and it's inpsired me to try again! I plan on doing this activity on Monday: So thanks, Tati, for your inspiration!
(They also have great giveaways!)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

P is for Pizza

We read some fun books:

"Pizza at Sally's" by Monica Wellington {about how to make pizza}

"Pizza for the Queen" by Melisande Potter {Italian story about the origins of pizza, includes recipes}

Then we drew our favorite pizza toppings on a paper plate to make our own personal pizzas. Then I cut them into fourths and talked a little bit about fractions.

Lastly, we made mini pizzas out of English muffins. I put on the sauce and then had different toppings for the boys to choose from so that they could decorate their own. Broil it until the cheese melts and there you have it!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

O is for Ocean

We read lots of books about the ocean from the nonfiction and ficition sections. Then the boys decorated a picture with stickers of underwater animals and glued on shells. Other ideas include:

Take a clear two-liter bottle and draw sea shapes (seaweed, waves, etc) on the outside of it with a permanent marker. Fill the bottle mostly full with water. Next add about a 1/4-cup of white vinegar and 1 Teaspoon of baking soda to the bottle. Drop a small handful of raisins into the bottle. And then watch. The raisins will collect bubbles all around them from the vinegar and baking soda chemical reaction this will cause them to float to the top. Once the reaction calms back down they will sink back down and then form more bubbles (causing them to rise again!) This will repeat for up to a half-hour. This is so fun! My kids just loved it.

Make an octopus windsock

I love this starfish craft:

P is for Police Officer

Books: I checked out "Gloria & Office Buckle" by Peggy Rathmann and some nonfiction books about police officers. Badge & Hat

Make a simple police vest using a large paper grocery bag. With the bag opened, make a large round opening on the bottom for the head and cut the bag open along the front. Make round holes on the sides for arm holes. Close and lay the bag flat and children can paint the front using tempera paint and using a sponge. Cut a long strip of black construction paper to form a belt - just for the front where is painted, and glue on bag when the paint is dry. Attach the badge and the vest is ready to wear. McGruff safety

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Beef and Veggies

1 spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
1 lb ground beef
1/2 c diced green peppers
1/2 c diced red peppers
1/4 c diced red onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 (14.5 oz) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t dried basil
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
2 1/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place squash on a bkaing sheet, and bake 40 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat, cool, and shred pulp with a fork. Reduce oven temp to 350. Lightly grease a casserole dish. In a skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef until evenly brown. Drain, and mix in peppers, onion and garlic. Continue to cook and stir until veggies are tender. Mix the shredded squash and tomatoes into skillet, and season with oregano and basil, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until heated through. Remove skillet from heat, and mix in 2 c cheese until melted. Transfer to prepared casserole dish. Bake 25 minutes in oven. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and cook 5 more minutes.

Pumpkin Walnut Biscuits

1 3/4 c flour
3 T sugar,
1 T baking powder
3/4 t salt
3/4 t cinnamon
3/4 t ground ginger
5 T cold butter, cut into pieces
1/2 c finely chopped walnuts
1/2 c light cream
1/3 c solidly packed pumpkin
1 1/2 T honey

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, b powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Use your fingertips to work in butter. Keep mixing until ingredients resemble coarse crumbs. In a smaller bowl, whisk together cream, pumpkin and honey. Make a well in dry ingredients and pour the liquid into it. Stir briskly until dough pulls together, then let it sit for 3 minutes. Flour your hands and work surface. Gently knead the dough into a ball, then pat into a 1 inch thick disk. Cut into squares or use a round biscuit cutter or drinking glass. Place on lightly sprayed cookie sheet. Bake biscuits on the center oven rack until light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Makes 12 biscuits.
This is from the FamilyFun magazine, November 2007