Family of N

Menu for Moving Week

Posted in Uncategorized by Laura on April 27, 2009


One week’s worth of menus has become rather boring around here, since we’ve cut down to cooking two-ish nights a week and improvising (sandwiches, baked potatoes, simple pasta dishes) for lunches at home (we still take leftovers in for school or work). But the next week and a half will be a little more exciting.

We’re moving to a bigger apartment on Friday, with a squirmy, wiggly 7-month-old in tow, no less, so this week’s menu has been a rigorous exercise in planning ahead for simple meals during the move. The end of the week boasts a one-pot meal to allow us to pack most of our dishes before then, and over the weekend we’ll be microwaving leftovers and make-ahead meals we’ve frozen. (But no dishes will be required between Thursday evening and Tuesday morning, at which point we will only need a soup pot and a griddle. We’re happy with eating off paper plates and bowls as long as we need to.)

Make-aheads for this week: Pierogies and Kielbasa (yes, this is the nitrate-free, antibiotic-free kielbasa I got for $1.50 per 12oz package!), Fried Rice, Shredded Chicken. We also have some chicken stock in the freezer from our last roast chicken.

I’ve indicated the meals we will be cooking fresh in blue. Can you believe we’ll be eating only homecooked meals but doing so little cooking?

dinner: Bowties and Broccoli with Sauteed Chicken

lunch: sandwiches
dinner: leftover Bowties and Broccoli

lunch: sandwiches
dinner: leftover Bowties and Broccoli

lunch: sandwiches
dinner: Pot Roast (uses cutting board, knife, peeler, measuring cup, measuring spoons in the morning and just the large pot in the evening)

lunch: leftover pot roast
dinner: leftover pot roast

lunch: share pizzas with friends helping us move
dinner: leftover pot roast

lunch: pierogies and kielbasa with frozen peas
dinner: pierogies and kielbasa with frozen peas

lunch: pierogies and kielbasa with frozen peas
dinner: pierogies and kielbasa with frozen peas

lunch: fried rice
dinner: chicken soup with grilled cheese sandwiches

lunch: fried rice
dinner: chicken soup with grilled cheese sandwiches

The chicken soup usually lasts us a while, so we’ll probably be able to wait till the weekend to cook, but we’ll evaluate that closer to time. We don’t know if we’ll end up with leftover pizza from Saturday that will push all of these meals to later, and we don’t know how much we will have settled in by that time. (If we’re not up for cooking yet, we can buy a little more time by picking up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, which we can serve with rice and frozen peas.)


End of Day Review

Posted in Uncategorized by Laura on April 22, 2009

1. Having a baby born in October is a great way to increase the number of homeschooling conversations you have. (Co-worker: “She was born in October? That’s too bad; she’ll have to wait a whole year to start school.” Me, not remembering that this is not the time or the place to wax crunchy: “Mmm? Oh, we’ll be homeschooling, so it won’t matter.”)

2. Criticisms of homeschoolers can stand without proof, but it was totally unreasonable of me to accuse public school students of showing ill effects from spending all day with their agemates. It’s not like there’s any alternative to spending all day with kids your own age, so it must be ok.

3. Homeschooling is the weirdest of the Weird Crunchy Things That Only Nutcases Do. Weirder than cloth diapering, home birthing, breastfeeding, or milling your own wheat. My co-workers know I do all these things and while it makes me interesting, they don’t freak out or anything. But homeschooling? Totally different conversation. Which brings me to point #3…

4. I have the courage of a peanut when I’m confronted with opposition to homeschooling. I think I actually said, “Well, we aren’t really sure yet,” at one point in hopes of cutting the unpleasant barrage of socialization lectures short. Please don’t tell them I bought 5th and 6th grade math books already, ok?

5. Conversations about homeschooling inevitably lead to conversations about octuplets. Maybe I’ll remember that next time and bring it up myself to speed things along a little. (“Hey! You know what’s even weirder than a homeschooler?”)

Simple Gifts

Posted in Uncategorized by Laura on April 21, 2009
Photo from Public Domain Pictures

The Family of N is moving next week. It’s been a good chance to assess how we’ve been doing at limiting what comes in our house to that which is truly beautiful and useful, a challenge that has gotten quite a bit harder since our little Savannah arrived. And you know what I’ve found? I think we (and our generous but thoughtful families!) have done a great job of saying “no” to clutter and “yes” to simplicity.

Gift-giving holidays are a challenge in this area for many of us. What should be a blessing — the generosity of others — can turn into a burden. You already have too much stuff, and now more is being added to the pile. And because people are so thoughtful, there really isn’t anything in the pile you don’t like. It’s just that you don’t need it, and that you do need to have less of it.

So what do you do to encourage simplicity without discouraging gift-givers? Small Notebook featured a great post yesterday with some great ideas of gifts that don’t add to the clutter. I’m following suit to list some favorite ideas I’ve seen suggested before. I’d love to hear how you handle this (or plan to handle this) as well.

  • Ask for consumable gifts (food, restaurant gift certificates, stickers, bubbles, chalk, crayons and coloring books, other craft materials, movie/concert/event tickets, museum membership). Magazine subscriptions can probably also go here, because after they’ve been read, they can be recycled or donated.
  • Ask for practical gifts (clothing, shoes, books, sippy cups or water bottles, lunch boxes)
  • Ask for the person to do plan a special day with the child — a trip to the zoo or museum, dinner and a movie, a time where they teach the child a craft, etc.
  • Specifically ask gift-givers to keep it simple.
  • Ask for toys that are inherently simple — blocks, heirloom quality dolls or wooden toys. Stress that if they want to spend a certain amount, one nice toy is better than five less expensive toys — and remind them that it’s not because of the price tag.
  • Ask for gifts to augment things the child already has. For instance, if the child has a doll, ask for a new outfit for the doll. Or if the child already has blocks, ask for colored blocks or blocks in other shapes.
  • Ask for gifts that could replace toys they already have — and then follow through with the one-in, one-out rule.
  • Send a box of toys home with the grandparents or someone else you visit often, so that the children can play with those toys there.
  • Teach the child about giving by having them go through their toys and choose something to donate.
  • Decide not to keep things that are broken.
  • Keep all but a few of the toys in a box in the closet where the child won’t get to them. Rotate the ones that you keep out so there’s some variety.
  • Ask for “virtual” gifts. My dad recorded himself reading a favorite children’s story for Savannah. She will always have that special memento, and it doesn’t take up any space.

What do you think of these ideas? Too directed? Tough to sell to doting family? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Window of Opportunity

Posted in Preschool by Laura on April 6, 2009

Childhood is full of rich opportunities for learning, and sometimes the best opportunities are fleeting. When you have an infant around, sometimes you feel like every time you blink you miss a dozen of them.

One of the ways we’re trying to take advantage of this stage of constant learning is through frequent language exposure. At this age, our goal is for her to be able to be familiar with a wide range of sounds used in different languages, so at least twice a week, Savannah and I listen to podcasts (selected from this list) spoken in a few different languages.


We’re subscribed to feeds that teach Swedish, German, Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Arabic, Hindi, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, and Mandarin Chinese. I also have bookmarked recordings of the Old Testament read in Hebrew.

Typically we do Korean first and one or two others afterwards. My reasoning is that I don’t want Savannah to fall too far behind her cousin in Korean language study. 😉

I don’t actually expect her to learn the languages from this, but I do hope that it will make language acquisition easier down the road, because the sounds won’t be so foreign to her. My sister and I have always found language learning, and especially pronunciation, easier than most people find it, perhaps because as kids we would regularly come back from the library with language tapes to listen to. From a young age, we filled our ears with sounds from around the world. I want the same for Savannah.

I’m also planning to start asking more of my multilingual friends at church to speak to her in their second language. Savannah was positively engrossed this Sunday when one friend began speaking Vietnamese to her. If we had enough time to devote to this kind of language exposure, it would probably be the best way for her to learn a second language. (Though I won’t refuse a copy of Rosetta Stone if anyone’s dying to get rid of theirs!)

Next step will be narrowing down the language options and choosing one or two to begin studying with her. That’s a couple years away, but I do like to plan ahead. 😉

Baby’s First Word

Posted in Uncategorized by Laura on April 3, 2009

There’s no video evidence (yet) because she shuts off every time the camera’s on, but Savannah has definitely started saying “Mama.” (Or, more often, “mamamamamamama”…)

I try to console the Professor that “Dada” is surely coming soon!