Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Hot Cross Buns

Remember the Feast of the Triumphant Cross? It was way way way back on September 14th.* Remember now?

Well, Second Son took an afternoon nap that day. I remember, because I decided at the last minute to make some Hot Cross Buns to celebrate the feast. Not having prepared ahead, I turned to my most trusted baking cookbook: King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains (King Arthur Flour Cookbooks). (Seriously, if you read my blog with any regularity and like baking in the least and haven't checked out this book...there's just something wrong with that.)

Let me just tell you, these are just about the most delicious buns I have ever eaten. I adored them! I ate three of them! And three more the next day. (Wait, did I just admit that?)

Kansas Dad said they were good, but they would be better without the raisins. No worries, I told him, next year I'll make them with currants soaked in rum. If that doesn't want to make you try them, nothing will.

I hope no one gets too upset that I have now participated twice in Tasty Tuesday and have yet to actually post a recipe, but I have that phobia, remember? I searched and found basically the same recipe online posted by someone who knows a good cookbook when she sees one. Or, you could just go get a copy of the book from your library or favorite bookstore. These buns might just convince you to buy it. (If not, try the Sour Cream Blueberry Muffins and use the white whole wheat flour...so light and delicious and...oh, we have sour cream in the fridge and I just might have to make a batch tomorrow...if only Second Son would let me put him down without crying!)

Check out today's Tasty Tuesday post at City Wife, Country Life and be sure the read the comments for some yummy-looking fudge and caramel recipes.

* Yes, I did start this post in September. It's been sitting in draft form for over two months. And I didn't even post the recipe. I'm not a slacker, though. Really, I'm not. Really.

One a Day: Picture Books for Advent

This year, among our other Advent activities, I decided we'd read a picture book a day focused on the Christmas season. I originally read this idea on a blog (which I reached following a link from elsewhere, not a blog I regularly read) and decided it was perfect for us given my love of picture books. Also, young children adore opening presents. We started last Sunday, of course, and have already had to establish a schedule for who gets to open the book each day. I also had to put the lid on the bin each day after we read our book because Second Daughter would try to open all of them as soon as I had my back turned.

Surprisingly, I had to wander the Christmas books at the library to find enough picture books to fill our days. I hope to continue this tradition in future years, filling out our collection enough to use our own books (and no library books) and to keep it up through the Epiphany. Some of the books this year, too, were more "fillers" than "my favorite Christmas books" so I'll be looking to replace some of the selections with others. A few longer ones I do like I didn't include because First Son wasn't very interested in them yet like The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey and The Birds' Christmas Carol. We'll have room to shuffle things around and include them in later years either as part of our "unwrapping books" or as a family read-aloud. I really need to read A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas for myself this year, too. I may add it to our family celebrations next year. (Can you believe I haven't ever read it? Especially since the Mazzucco family recommended it last year. But I was pregnant and then I had a baby.)

Some of this year's books are more for the younger children and some (I must admit) are mainly for me. Please tell me I can continue this tradition long after my youngest child is as old as First Son is now! So many of these books are so wonderful! Surely picture books are good for all ages...

Anyway, here are the books we're reading this year. (We have a few others lying around as well like Jingle the Christmas Clown and Gingerbread Baby, as well. I couldn't wrap them all!) Please comment or email with any other recommendations for next year's list.
  1. The Last Straw by Frederick Thury (My children adore this book. Second Son is receiving a copy as his Epiphany gift so we'll have our own copy next year.)
  2. A Christmas Story: Mini Edition  by Brian Wildsmith (Oh, how I love his illustrations!)
  3. The Night of Las Posadas (Picture Puffins) by Tomie dePaola
  4. Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey by Robert Byrd
  5. A Small Miracle by Peter Collington (This is a fabulous wordless book. Please check it out if you've never had the pleasure of reading it.)
  6. A Christmas Like Helen's by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
  7. A Gift from Saint Francis: The First Creche by Joanna Cole
  8. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
  9. Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend by Julie Steigemeyer (for the feast of St. Nicholas)
  10. The Christmas Story: From the King James Version illustrated by Gennady Spirin
  11. To Whom the Angel Spoke by Terry Key
  12. The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola (for the feast day of St. Juan Diego)
  13. A Christmas Tree in the White House by Gary Hines
  14. The Donkey's Dream by Barbara Helen Berger
  15. The Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie dePaola (for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, of course)
  16. The Legend of the Christmas Rose by William H. Hooks
  17. Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson
  18. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston (and illustrated by my most favorite illustrator Barbara Cooney)
  19. Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck
  20. Lucy's Christmas by Donald Hall
  21. Merry Christmas Mom and Dad (A Golden Look-Look Book) by Mercer Mayer (This one is for the day of Kansas Dad's birthday.)
  22. The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
  23. The Huron Carol by Frances Tyrrell (I'm also requesting some CDs from the library to see if I can find a good version of the carol for us to hear on the same day.)
  24. The Friendly Beasts illustrated by Tomie dePaola
  25. Christmas in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
  26. The Miracle of Saint Nicholas (Golden Key Books) by Gloria Whelan
  27. Bethlehem: Revised Standard Version Of The Holy Bible, Catholic Edition illustrated by Fiona French and The Night Before Christmas: A Victorian Vision of the Christmas Classic illustrated by Anita Lobel (two for Christmas Eve)
  28. All for the Newborn Baby by Phyllis Root
We are reading them in this order. I had to schedule some of the ones I borrowed from the library early in Advent because I knew they would be requested by someone else and I'd have to return them by the end of this week. (Yes, I wrapped library books for my children to open. The joy of unwrapping is great. The desire to own them is apparently greater in their mother than in the children.)

All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth

Monday, November 29, 2010

Second Son Four Month Well-Child Visit

Once again, Second Son is well (other than the cold that has been hanging on for three weeks or so; I actually think we're on a second one). Here are his four month stats.

Weight: 18 pounds, 3 ounces (94th percentile)
Height: 26.5 inches (75th percentile)

For something a little more interesting, here's a picture from Thanksgiving.

Now there's something to be thankful for. Especially since he was smiling. It's always easier to be thankful when they're smiling, isn't it? Smiling or sleeping.

Book Review: How to Raise a Healthy Child...in Spite of Your Doctor

How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your DoctorHow to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor by Robert S. Mendelsohn, M.D.

In this book, Dr. Mendelsohn walks parents through a series of illnesses and health issues and presents guides to determine the best course of action which, despite the title, does sometimes include taking the child to a doctor or emergency room. He begins the book with a few chapters of general wisdom on health and wellness for children. These early chapters almost always encourage parents to wait before calling a doctor (as many illnesses resolve by themselves without any intervention). Later chapters tackle topics like headaches, stomach aches, vision problems, skin problems and vaccinations.

The book was published in 1984 which is apparent in the research he cites. I was pleasantly surprised to find many of the things he recommended like increased breastfeeding and decreased antibiotic use are more common now, at least within our circle of friends, some of whom are young doctors. Though some of the home remedies he recommends are probably just fine, I'd be wary of trying them without talking with our doctor or PA first.

I think the most important thing I realized while reading this book was the trust that should develop between a parent and a doctor or, in our case, a PA. I trust our PA to tell us when we need an antibiotic and when we should just treat our child at home. I left our previous pediatrician when we disagreed about how my children should be introduced to solid food and have always been thankful I did not stick around longer. Most of us are lucky enough to live in an area with plenty of family physicians or pediatricians and should not continue to take our children to one with whom we are not completely comfortable. To that end, I thought his chapter on selecting the right doctor was one of the best parts of the book.

I did not receive anything in exchange for this review. The book was from PaperBackSwap, where I'll be posting it again if anyone is interested. (I will receive a credit from PBS if anyone clicks the link, signs up and posts ten books.)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sophia Institute Press Review: The First Christians

The First Christians: The Acts of the Apostles for Children by Marigold Hunt

A friend had suggested I blog reviews for Sophia Institute Press ages ago, but I thought I had enough to do. Then I realized just how many of my favorite books were coming from this publishing house like Angel in the Waters, A Mother's Rule of Life and The Young People's Book of Saints, among others. So I requested a book and continue to be thrilled!

In The First Christians, Hunt retells the history recorded in the book of Acts. She has a gentle encouraging tone, perfect for reading aloud to younger children.

This book is not meant to be a substitute for reading the book of Acts itself.
You will find all that Peter said in the third chapter of the Acts of the Apostles: I don't want to give you all of it here, because if I put in everything that is in the real Acts of the Apostles, you may wonder whether you need bother to read it. The sensible thing to do is to read each chapter of Acts before you read what I say, and then read it again afterwards to see if what I said was helpful.
The Apostles are real people to her (as, of course, they should be for us all) and she delights in asides to bring them to life for children. For example, she mentions how much she likes the name Tabitha and wonders why there aren't more girls with the name. Comments like these make it seem like the author is sitting with us, cozy before a fire (which I mention because I wish I had a fire in the fireplace right now) telling us a story of danger and adventure. Hunt often reminds us how exciting the time of the Apostles must have been.

The book was originally titled The First Catholics and it is certainly written with young Catholics as the audience. In general, I believe this book could also be enjoyed by non-Catholic Christians. You may want to read it aloud, though, as there are a few places where alterations in the text may be warranted. For example, she mentions at one point that Christian always means Catholic. There are also a few statements about Peter as the first Pope that might be strange for non-Catholics.

I am very much looking forward to reading this book with First Son when we study the New Testament next year!

I received a free copy of this book from Sophia Institute Press as part of their Books for Bloggers program (which is currently on hiatus). I did not receive any compensation for the review and it is my honest opinion.

Pajama Time!

Crazy Homeschooling Mom or Just Crazy?

Today, Second Son was napping in his swing for longer than twenty minutes for the first time in ten days other than that one day I put him in the Woombie for a nap, when he slept for an hour.

You might think I'd leave him there, quietly napping. You might think I'd tackle the hundred things around the house that haven't been done in the past three weeks including, in part, going through all of November's pictures, Christmas shopping for the kids, Christmas and birthday shopping for Kansas Dad, finishing our Advent preparations, checking the closet to see what I've gathered for the stockings, going through the closet to see if I really have all the nieces, nephews and godchildren covered, mopping the kitchen floor, writing reviews for the past three books I've finished reading, and on and on. Or perhaps I could have just wrapped up some lessons for the day, cleaned the kitchen and started a load of laundry.

Oh, no. This crazy mama had talked to Kansas Dad who said it was a beautiful day and insanely asked the other three kids if they wanted to go to the zoo this afternoon! We packed up our moleskin journals and pencils for some nature study drawing and I woke the baby to change his diaper and strap him into his car seat.

The zoo was wonderful - cool and sunny, not crowded, and fun. The kids loved their journals. First Son drew a flamingo, a fish, and a penguin. But I still can't decide if it was a good idea to wake up a baby who hadn't taken a good long nap in three weeks so we could have nature study at the zoo. Especially now that I hear him fussing in the bedroom.

Quote: The Year and Our Children

Mary Reed Newland in The Year & Our Children: Catholic Family Celebrations for Every Season:
Such a strange custom, celebrating Christmas and not knowing why. Much of the world does not know why--and that is very sad. There is only one reason in all the world to feast and be merry at Christmas: because we are redeemed, and Christmas is the feast of the beginning of our Redemption. In this bewilderingly beautiful season, in a most mysterious and beautiful way, God became a Baby.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Second Son in Orange and Blue

The pictures are from November 6th. I couldn't help sharing them even if they are a little out of date.