Sunday, October 18, 2015

Breakfast on the Their Own

One of the great things about the kids getting bigger and becoming more independent is that they can sometimes give us (parents) a bit of a break.
Sunday at our house are crazy with everyone getting ready for church in their own way. The kids usually get ready pretty quickly and then are ready for breakfast when the rest of us aren't ready.  I've been trying various ideas for breakfast foods that they like and easily serve themselves without making a mess. Last night I wiped up these blueberry muffins and they were a real hit!

Blueberry Muffins (original recipe)

Heat oven to 200 C

My variation (measurement based on US cup size)
Dry ingredients - whisk together in bowl
 1 1/2 cups of flour - this time was 1 cup of bread flour, 1/2 cup of almond flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar,
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Wet ingredients - whisk together in large measuring cup
1/3 cup grape oil
1 large egg
 1/3 – 1/2 cup (80 ml – 120 ml) milk (add to oil and egg to fill to 1 cup line)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Be careful not to over mix. Just mix it until the dry ingredients are damp.

Add 1 cup of blueberries

Pour into 12 muffin paper liners, bake 20 min.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Dresden Philharmonic Children's Choir in Tokyo

#LittleLuther joined us for a special concert of the Dresden Philharmonic Children's Choir at Tokyo Center Lutheran Church earlier this week. It was wonderful to hear them sing in a number of languages and with various styles. Zilla and Mega had fun trying to guess which language each song was in. The kids couldn't choose just one favorite song but I think the Festival Sanctus by John Leavitt was my favorite.

Would you like to have a listen? Check out Der Philharmonische Kinderchor Dresden on youtube or on iTunes.


Tooth Fairy or Throwing Teeth? 5 Fav. Tooth Books

We've had some interesting adventures with loosing teeth. The most recent was Zilla having a tooth come out just as the plane we were on headed down the runway to take off. It was a bit or a surprise and with hankies, tissues and other helpful items stowed in the carry-on baggage we were in a bit of a pinch. Also, where do you put a tooth when you are on a plane for the next 12 hours or so? Also, how does the tooth fairy make a visit on an overnight flight?

Thankfully I had a small bag handy for the tooth and Zilla doesn't believe in the tooth fairy... but he did still ask if he could have some money!

We have a number of tooth themed books that we enjoy from time to time. Here are out 5 favorites!

1. Throw Your Tooth on the Roof: Tooth Traditions from Around the World by Selby Beeler
2. The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss
3. The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist by Stan & Jan Berenstain
4. Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile by Tomie dePaola
5. Maisy, Charley and the Wobbly Tooth By Lucy Cousins

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Novel Ideas

Zilla is 8 years old 
Mega is 5 years old

⭐️ At what age is a child ready to listen to a chapter book?
⭐️ At what age can a child read a chapter book?
⭐️ What are some good chapter books to start with?
⭐️ How can I feed the reading habit without breaking the bank?

Reading to your child is one of the most important things you can do. It is not only good bonding time but also great for a child's development. Thankfully there are many excellent books to help make reading fun!

On this blog some of our favorite books can be found under the labels Books and Great Books (how imaginative, right?). There are Japanese/English Bilingual Books listed as well.

With this post I'm going to start a new section with suggestions for chapter books. Making the first foray into reading chapter books can be a bit daunting but it doesn't have to be. There is no best time or way to introduce them but here are some general ideas.

⭐️ At what age is a child ready to listen to a chapter book?
Anytime is ok. However, I've found the kids to develop more interest in following a long story line from around 3/4 years old.
We took the dive into reading a chapter to two at bedtime each day when Zilla was 5 yrs old and Mega was 2. At first Mega fell asleep most nights before the chapter was over but in time she began to stay awake and ask questions which showed she was trying to follow the story.

⭐️ At what age can a child read a chapter book?
This will depend greatly on the child's reading ability and interest level. There are many great first chapter books series. Some are books written specifically for beginning readers, others are simplified versions of classic novels. Finding a theme / topic that the child is interested in is key.

⭐️ What are some good chapter books to start with?
Mega and Zilla are currently hooked on the Boxcar Children. We just finished book 13 Snowbound Mystery. In between each Boxcar Children book we read a different book so we are able to keep enjoying a variety of books while also following some of our favorite characters as they solve various mysteries.
Other books we're read recently are the Little House on the Praire series, Charlotte's Web, and Swiss Family Robinson. Do you see a movie/book theme going on here? We enjoy watching the movie after reading the book. Comparing the book and movie makes for some interesting discussions!
 On our shelf of books waiting to be read we have Snow Treasure, Island of the Blue Dolphins, My Side of the Mountain and Chronicles of Narnia.

⭐️ How can I feed the reading habit without breaking the bank?
It can get expensive quickly if your child gets hooked on reading.  Here are a few affordable options to explore!
 - Local library & Inter-Library Loan - While our local libraries don't have books in English we can get some through the inter library loan system. You never know what books your library may have access to is you don't ask!
 - E-books (iBooks has a Boxcar Children Box set of 1-12 at a great price!) have saved us a lot on both purchasing price and shelf space! Many of the older classics have versions that can be downloaded & read for free.
 - Book swaps - Whether in person or online swapping books is a great way to share the joy of reading! Check out
 - Amazon and other online shops often offer books at reasonable prices. Since we don7t have English books in local stores Amazon has become a vary valuable resource!

Need some more book suggestions? Check out these lists.
50 Books Before 12 
Newbery Medal
Wilder Medal (for Authors/Illustrators)

Tell us you favorite chapter books in the comments below!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Oregon Trail Ruts

One of the coolest things we saw this summer was ruts along the Oregon Trail.
Like so many of my generation I grew up playing Oregon Trail on the Apple IIGS. It took a story from the history books and made it come alive. For many of us it was the first computer game that pulled at us emotionally. We learned the names of the key locations, struggled with the decision of what supplies to buy and felt crushed when fording the river didn't go well.

During our journey last summer we had a few times we were near the Oregon trail but the one that stands out in our memories is the Oregon Trail Ruts in Wyoming. Being able to walk a bit of the trail, feel the sun beating down, see the open plains... it made it easy to imagine we were in the same place at a different time!

This trip across the plains was also a great time to talk with the kids about various aspects of history and human nature. There were many unknowns, misconceptions and mistakes made. If we can learn from those things we can have a better future. It was also a time of great perseverance, creativity and faith.

Here are some of the books about the pioneer life that we've enjoyed!
The Little House on the Prairie Series

Little Luther had a bit of a decision...
Head west to the great state of Oregon or follow the trail back east to St. Louis, to meet up with some friends.

What has your #LittleLuther been up to?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Knitting Out To Sea

Instead of thing of gender appropriate toys and activities why not provide the opportunity for kids to try everything and watch to see what speaks to their heart?

Little Luther - A Junior Ranger

Little Luther accompanied us to Rocky Mountain National Park last summer where he hiked to Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, drove the Trail Ridge Road and enjoyed seeing all the wonders God created. He also worked with the kids on earning a Junior Ranger badge!

What has your #LittleLuther been up to?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Favorite Fall Treat - Pear Bread

Pear Bread

One of the things we love in the fall is pears but they  tend to rot within days of buying them. Oh, and they cost over a dollar each. Even with the these problems I still can't resist buying them!
In my search for a good use for the pears I have I came across this recipe. Zilla, Mega and I love it! 
Next time you have a few pears sitting around why not give it a shot?
~ Houdini
p.s. thick pieces are better to stop the slices from falling apart.

Pear Bread

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
3 1/2 cups pears - peeled, cored and chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease two 8x4 inch loaf pans.
In large mixing bowl combine sugar and eggs, beat well. Stir in pears and vanilla. In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir dry ingredients into the pear mixture; mix well. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans
Bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a loaf comes out clean. Allow loaves to cool in pans for 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. (I like it hot but be careful because the pear chunks are scalding hot!)