Monday, January 18, 2016

Snow Day Links

Stuck at home on a snowy day?
Here are some things to enjoy:

Vivaldi's Four Seasons - Winter

Ezra Jack Keats - Snowy Day - in English & ASL

Reading Rainbow Snowy Day Stories and Poems

Treeschoolers - Weather

Snow Day!

Zilla is 8 years old
Mega is 5 years old 

Lesson:  You snooze, you loose!
Since we live in an area that boarders on tropical in summer our winters are pretty mild If we are lucky we'll get 1-2  good snowfalls in winter. The snows may not stay for a full day so if we wake up to the silence and erie glow of a snowy morning we know we need to move quickly so we can enjoy it while it lasts!

Lesson:  Snow Days are a Blessing
Yes, I'm aware that not everyone sees snow days as a blessing. Yes, they mess with the work and school schedules. They make going anywhere a challenge. 
At the same time, snow days force us to slow down. To take a break for the normal daily craziness. To spend time doing things we don't always get to do.  
As annoying as it can be to have upheaval it is also good for us. It helps us not to take things for granted. 
Snow days are fleeting (here at least) and the kids will be grown and gone before we know it so a snow days is a great family bonding and memory making day!

Before getting into the snow day ideas I have some Dos and Don'ts I'd love to share with the neighbors! 
 - Don't ride your bike while holding an umbrella in one hand on a snowy/slushy/icy road.
     - Do wear proper shoes on a snowy day.
 - Don't try to shovel with a broom and dust pan, especially when it isn't powder snow.
     - Do get a small shovel so you can make a safe walking space in front of your house.
 - Don't leave home without checking to see if you can get to where you want to go.
     - Do make the most of the extra time at home if you can't get out.

So, here is how we spend a snow day.
Wake up - Listen to the silence. Stay in bed and just be. Have the kids listen and identify what sounds different.
Check e-mail - Our schools e-mail delay and cancellation notices
"Home Snow School" starts at from 7 am, earlier if there has been a lot of snow. I hope my neighbors appreciate the restraint I show by keeping the kids in till 7AM! ;-)

Home Snow School Lesson 1 :Preparation is Key
I must admit that I sometimes rush this step and usually end up regretting that. With the impending change from snow to rain we're rather anxious to get outside as quickly as possible.   
One thing we do is prepare something warm to eat & drink when we come in. Blueberry muffins are easy to throw together & pop in the oven.  I also prepare a thermos of hot cocoa for the kids at a drinkable temperature.
Another thing to do is have a warm bath waiting.  The wet/rainy/slushy/sloppy snow will chill a body faster than lovely fluffy snow. Kids are especially susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite as they can tolerate a lot when they are too busy having fun to notice!
One other essential preparation is to have the genkan (entry area) ready for wetness.  We put away all the extra shoes, have hangers ready for wet snow gear and towels for wiping off so we don't drip all the way to the bathroom.
If I remember we'll also have extra gloves sitting in the genkan so it is easy to put on a dry pair when the current pair gets soaked (<-- completely="" font="" forgot="" that="" today="">

Home Snow School Lesson 2 : Shoveling Basics - Safety Before Fun
      Since we live on a key intersection where many people turn to go to the station the first thing we do is make a path on the road for the commuters to use.  The snow here tends to be very wet and heavy. It is not unusual to have a layer of ice below or above the snow. Combine that with people who aren't used to snow and it is a recipe for disaster.  While shoveling this morning we noticed that most people didn't have on proper snow boots. That was a teachable moment about how to dress in snowy/slushy weather. The kids also discovered how quickly a wet pair of gloves can become too cold to wear and that it is rather slippery to walk where the road has not been cleared.
       The 2nd shoveling task is to clear the drainage areas. When the snow starts to melt it will make little floods and possibly freeze, covering the road with slick ice, if the water can't get into the drains. Often we have a day like today where the snow quickly turns to rain and makes a slushy mess since the water can't drain.

Home Snow School Lesson 3 : You know you come from a snowy area when you are the only family on the street with snow shovels or snow toys.
The past couple of years our shoveling or the road has been rewarded with snacks from the neighbors. While I appreciate their token of appreciation I really want to kids to get the idea that we shovel because we can, not because we get snacks.  We have shovels, able bodies and time therefore it is something we can do to be of service to our neighbors. 
Of course there is the added benefit in that we love to shovel and that shoveling makes bigger snow piles to play in.
We all love playing in the snow. The quest for the perfect snow angel is like the quest for a prefect wave when surfing. The competition to build the greatest snow man is one that can lead to hours of hard work. Snowball target practice can't be beat, unless you are the target!

After a warm lunch and a some time to dry off we'll curl up for a nice movie & some popcorn in the afternoon as it is usually rainy by then. If it isn't raining we'll head out again to enjoy the last bit of snow on our snow day. In the evening we'll have a round out touch-up shoveling if needed and an early bedtime as the kids are exhausted! (parents too...)

Friday, January 8, 2016

Salad Success!

Zilla is 8 years old
Mega is 5 years old 

Lesson:  Watch shows with healthy recipes for inspiration!

During Winter Break we've had some time for channel surfing and relaxing. The kids have seen recipes they would like to try on a few cooking shows. However, we often are missing key ingredients.  Zilla latched onto the idea of a spinach strawberry chicken wrap but as our local stores don't sell tortilla shells (and I don't have time today to make them) we had to find an alternative way to serve it.
If I had suggested to the kids that they should eat a spinach salad they would have said "no". However, since it is their idea, they were willing to give it a try!

So, we have a new Zilla approved recipe!

Before I forget how I made it I'm going to write it down.
If you make this with your own twist please share that in the comments.  We'd love to try some other variations!

Fresh Spinach - 1 bunch (250-500g maybe?)
Skinless Chicken breast - 6oz. (200g)
Strawberries - 1/2-1cup
Homemade Granola - 1/4 cup
Honey Mustard Vinaigrette dressing

1. Wash, dry and cut/rip the spinach into bite size pieces.
2. Cut the chicken breast into 3 oz sections (about the size & thickness of a deck of cards). Fry it in a frying pan, seasoned lightly with salt & pepper.
3. Wash and slice the strawberries
4. Toss the spinach and strawberries with 1-2 tbsp of dressing.
5. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces.
6. Add chicken and granola to the top of the salad. Sprinkle with a little more dressing.
7. Eat & Enjoy!

A few things to consider...
 - The granola I made this time had a cup of chopped almonds and a 1/2 cup of flax seed so it had a nice nutty flavor.
 - Other vinaigrette dressings would probably work well.
 -  This could work well as a mason jar salad or make-ahead salad where you add the dressing, and maybe the berries, just before eating.
 - Next time we have tortillas we'll surely try this as a wrap!