Zucchini.

We just finished dinner and I have to say, it was quite the success! We have been given loads of zucchini lately, which is awesome, but also something we’ve never really eaten! We never ate zucchini in Peru, so that’s a solid 4 years without it, and then it wasn’t something I used earlier in our marriage. However, I’m always up for new veggies, so I’ve been figuring out all the different things to do with it. I made zucchini bread with a few raisins the other day and one loaf is gone, the other is in the freezer – SO good Brian couldn’t stop eating it! I made zucchini chips in the oven last night, but I had to make my own bread crumbs and they just weren’t all that great. This evening, I looked for about five minutes online for a dinner recipe that would be vegetarian and after looking and thinking, I came up with this:

::1 onion, diced

::3 cloves of garlic (or 1 good Tbsp of minced garlic)

::1 celery stalk, diced

::2 large zucchini, sliced thin, then diced

::2 grated carrots

::1 can diced tomatoes, with the juice

::1 8oz can of tomato sauce

::1/4c cream cheese

::handful of grated parmesan cheese

::1lb whole wheat pasta

Saute the onion and garlic until fragrant, then add in the rest of the veggies. Saute for about 10 minutes, until getting fork tender. Salt liberally; it will help draw out the moisture from the zucchini. Add pepper, oregano, basil, and chili powder (however much you’d like). When the veggies are getting soft, add in the diced tomatoes and the can of tomato sauce. Add more salt, basil, and a Tablespoon of sugar. Plop in the cream cheese, then pour the sauce into an 8×8 pan. Sprinkle the parm on top and put into a 350 degree oven while you cook the pasta. Start the pasta water when you put the sauce in the oven; cook the pasta to al dente. Drain and add a pad of butter and some garlic powder. Serve the pasta with the zucchini sauce over top and extra parm to add as desired.

I convinced my preschooler this was spaghetti and my husband ate it and then asked afterwards what he’d eaten. We all really liked it! I was concerned about the texture of the zucchini, which is not my favorite. But, sauteing it and then having a good sauce really helped. We have leftovers and it was REALLY good. Enjoy!

Life These Days.

Life is C.R.A.Z.Y. busy these days and yet… so great. I have a bunch of different responsibilities – to which my multi-colored white board calendar can attest to! Keeping them all straight is a job in and of itself most of the time. And then, there’s kids on top of it! I’m forever scrounging the internet in my free time to find productive activities for E. that do not include the television. Here are some of the things we have been doing:

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Tea Party on the porch!

 

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Big ball – fun indoors and out!

Dropping colored vinegar onto a pan filled with baking soda to watch it fizzle

Dropping colored vinegar onto a pan filled with baking soda to watch it fizzle

BUBBLES!

BUBBLES!

We have definitely learned that if all else fails, break out the bubbles! For some reason, these have provided seemingly endless entertainment.

I tried my hand this past week at making our own playdoughfinally! A friend in Peru always made it for us and she raved about how simple it was. I knew she was probably right, I just never had the time to try it on my own. Elena’s now old enough to play with it and not just smoosh it and/or eat it, so now is a great time to give it a shot! It really WAS super easy and I love how pliable it is and that it truly is non-toxic which is super important with Baby J. crawling around and cramming everything into his mouth. All I needed was flour, salt, cream of tartar (which, by the way, is ridiculously expensive! Quite thankful my mom had some on hand!), water, food coloring, and oil. Less than ten minutes later, Elena was having fun “cooking” with her blue playdough.

 

This week, I found the idea of sidewalk “goo.” I’m going to give it a shot: sidewalk chalk, cornstarch, and water. Voila – washable goo (supposedly!). Can’t be that hard, right?? I think it’ll be fun. Best part? Found sidewalk chalk for 97 cents and someone gave us cornstarch awhile ago. Score!

One big issue lately has been the heat outside. Covering E. in sunscreen and force-feeding her liquids every few minutes works just fine, but Baby J. is whiter than I am (hard to believe, I know) and just too little to be outside in the heat for too long. So, it’s been tough finding activities that are outside, productive, keeps them both occupied, and doesn’t involve sitting in the heat. Our favorite activity is the kiddie pool. Baby J. will just sit and kick for HOURS! E. loves to water the grass with the hose and to play in the sprinkler, even though the water out of the hose is ice cold. Brian lets her drink out of the hose and she prefers that over a sippy. It keeps her hydrated; we’re not going to complain.

Activity books are a blast, but she has to have me coaching her through them every step of the way. I found a sticker book for this week where she has to put the right faces on the animal picture. We’ll see if that lasts more than five minutes. We also discovered that she’s just barely big enough for a few games on the Wii Toy Story game. That knocks out…. oh, a good 15 minutes

On the list of things to do this week:

::Sidewalk goo

::Obstacle course through the house around all her animals

::Playdough with cookie cutters and cooking utensils

::Bubbles

::Pool with buckets

::Sticker activity book

::Coloring

::New Veggietales DVD

::Wii “Toy Story” game

I have a pretty busy week with check-outs and check-ins here at the missionary housing (pretty much something happening each day of the week here!). I am preparing for my last summer children’s program in a local park, which means I should probably write my last lesson for the summer! There’s a Day Camp going on here at the property and I’ve been asked to be there for counseling purposes starting on Wednesday. I’ll be doing that again the first week of August. I have a meeting on Friday and I have to prep for two giant meetings in mid-August. Brian is going to the Brooklyn Tabernacle with a group on Tuesday so I’ll be home alone with the kids until basically Wednesday morning! And I have to write our mission board’s weekly prayer newsletter by Thursday. Finding activities E. can do on her own is so crucial!!

So, how do you keep your kids entertained, especially when it’s too hot or rainy outside? What kinds of young preschool activities do you do with your kids? 

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