Brown-Skinned Friends

I interrupt this blog hiatus to share some important thoughts.

My daughter and I were driving in the car today and mentioning friends we were going to see. She said, “I just love having so many brown-skinned friends.” And, I don’t know, race is a touchy subject… right? Just when I feel informed and sensitive enough to sort of understand it, I realize I still have a lot to learn.

We live in a very diverse area. We value diversity. But we don’t want to raise “color-blind” kids. To me, raising color-blind kids means you tell them not to see color. That it doesn’t make a difference what color someone is – you treat them all the same.


So maybe you’ve seen this meme before. It’s been around for a while and its iterations are endless. If we teach our kids to treat everyone equally, they’re going to be very confused and ill-prepared to understand injustices. What if instead of teaching them not to see color, we teach them to value color. We teach them the depth and beauty of differences.

We need to teach our kids the difference between equality and equity. To raise informed people who are interested in pursing a world liberated from the pursuit of “greatness, no matter the cost”. Liberated from the idea that the privledges they were born with shouldn’t be extended to everyone.


Chocolate Oat Bars

Disclaimer: this is the first try at making some on-the-go bars for Cohen. I may come back and edit the recipe as needed. 

It’s been a *bit* of a rough month for the youngest of the Baker bunch. He keeps adding new allergies and we keep finding out “the hard way”. We’ve also found that his sensitivity to food proteins is increasing after a scary run-in with some contact reactions. 

The worst part is, he’s now allergic to his very favorite, allergen-friendly food bars. In an effort to make him something he loves just as much, and to make them more nutrient-rich, I came up with these:


Chocolate Oat Bars
Makes 18

1 cup dates, prepared as directed below
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 c maple syrup
1/2 c old fashioned oats
1/2 t vanilla
2 T oil of your choice
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 c cacao powder
1/4 c soy nut butter (or whatever nut butter you prefer)
sprinkle of salt

Start by chopping 1 cup of dates and putting them in a glass jar. Pour boiling water over to just cover the dates. Let sit until cool and then refrigerate for 12 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F. Add all ingredients to food processor. Blend until smooth.

Here’s where it gets a little iffy. I tried to spread the batter in a 9×13 pan this time but it was hard to get the center done as well as I wanted before the edges were done. Next time I think I’ll try a smaller pan. I baked this set for 20 minutes and the consistency was nice. They cut up well and stayed formed when I wrapped them individually.


Weeks of Meal Plans


I’ve dropped the ball “a bit” on sharing meal plans here. They’re still happening. They’re usually scribbled by necessity on the corner of a piece of paper discarded by the children, right before I leave for the grocery store.

So here’s about two and a half weeks worth. Scribble-dee-dee.

Saturday: Smoothies & French Toast [Smoothies for dinner is borderline genius.]
Sunday: Creamed Corn & Broccoli
Monday: Veggie burgers & green bean fries
Tuesday: Tacos [We did the fish tacos found here.]
Wednesday: Cauliflower Nuggets [Did not taste like the chicken nuggets promised, but tasty. Also, need to buy two cauliflower heads if it’s the entree.]
Thursday: Chicken & Rice [Of the classic variety. With peas and carrots.]
Friday: Pizza [Lucy has requested every Friday be a pizza night. Sold.]
Saturday: Quinoa Rainbow Salad

Sunday: Chicken Salad
Monday: Tomato & Mozarella Grilled Cheese with Salad
Tuesday: Quinoa with Brussels Sprouts & Bacon
Wednesday: Corn Chowder [What to make when you want it to be fall but it’s still so, so hot and the corn is still so, so sweet.] Add some salmon or sausage.
Thursday: Tacos with Cabbage Slaw
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: Chicken & Sweet Potato Fries
Sunday: @ Church
Monday: Cauliflower Fried Rice
Tuesday: Roasted sweet potato with rice and sautéed green veg
Wednesday: spaghetti squash with lentils
Thursday: Fish tacos
Friday: Pizza

When life gets busy, just repeat all of the easiest, cheapest, most delicious. Right?

Unit Study: Oceans [Homeschool Kindergarten]

After a lackluster first week, we decided to focus our second week around a subject of Lucy’s choosing and she picked: the ocean. Perfect!

I started out by making a Pinterest board and seeking out some inspiration. So many smart people out there with so many ideas.

Then I took a couple sheets of paper and wrote out my favorite ideas:

– Make a fish stamp [with an apple, potato, eraser, etc.]
– Identify different kinds of boats [use books and toob boats]
– Fish Subtraction Center
– Tide in a bottle
– Gross Motor Ocean-themed game [see below]
– Draw a fish and label its parts
– How much is that fish money game
– Lego dropper game
– Make starfish cookies
– Videos to watch
– Where do you live [sea/land] game
– Sea level experiment
– Ocean levels in a bottle
– Kinetic sand play
– Seashell sort [big vs. little & smallest to largest]
– Fishing puzzle word match up
– Introduce Montessori Math beads
– Water bead sensory play
– Match toob animals to flashcards
– animal beginning sound game
– Pattern block or tangram fish
– Make a jellyfish
– Five Oceans song
– Map play or puzzle

I started out with a pretty intense list, we didn’t get to everything, but I will show you what we did!


Daddy reading the Magic School Bus ocean book before bed.


One thing we wanted to add more of was physical activity. So we made sure we were either playing outside or going on bike rides every day [I promise we aren’t in pajamas all the time. :) If it’s not too hot at night we put everyone in pajamas and take a lap around the neighborhood].


I also worked more towards understanding her best learning style and we discovered she really enjoys listening to… everything! So we got some books on cd from the library and made sure we set aside time to listen to our Phonics Museum phonics cd.


We introduced the Montessori bead stair because she’s working on her 5-9 doubles for math and the higher numbers are a little trickier!



I knew we were on the right track for making school more fun this week when little brothers wanted to join in.


Math doubles practice with a twenty chart and gems.



Practicing our hundreds chart outside.


She fished for the animal and then found the matching cards. She enjoyed this but wished there weren’t so many animals with ‘s’ names. Hehe.


We found this Lakeshore Subtraction Center at the thrift store and it was perfect for the theme! It would be easy enough to recreate.


She worked with these tweezers while I read some ocean facts from the Usborne First Encyclopedia of Animals.


This game was a big winner. She spelled the word and then rang the bell. I’ve now decided every homeschool needs a bell.


Exploring shells with a magnifying glass. She loved this.


I loved how she thought of which animals like both land and water and put them closer to the line.


I showed her the picture and said the word and she found the corresponding beginning letter. And then rang the bell. ;)


We had such a blast this week!

Here’s our book list:

– The Underwater Alphabet Book [She laid out the Handwriting Without Tears letters while I read]
– Eric Carle’s Animals Animals
– The Usborne First Encyclopedia of Animals
– Big City Port
– Usborne’s Agent Arthur on the Stormy Seas
– Swimmy
– One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
– Dora Saves Mermaid Kingdom
– David McCaulay’s Ship

And for the previously mentioned gross motor game, I put the suggestions below into a jar and she picked them. We started our day off with these “exercises” to get the blood flowing. :)

-Slither like an eel
-Crawl like a crab
-Swim like a jellyfish
-Starfish jumping jacks
-Mirror fish [copy the other player, take turns]
-“Swim” fast
-Crank the boat’s motor
-Catch a wave
-Whale push-ups
-Cast your fishing line

Homeschool Kindergarten [The First Week]

Homeschooling is hard. I thought I knew what I was getting into since we did our “soft launch” in March. I was not prepared.

I detailed out our plans in the last post. And we stuck to them for the first week. I made a schedule board on the side of the fridge for my gal who loves to ask, “What’s next?”. We fell into a routine of starting our Bible as everyone was finishing up breakfast. We then transitioned to Saxon Math because it has a Morning Meeting and calendar time built into it. We then did our Explode the Code work. Followed by Handwriting without Tears and Phonics Museum. And then we did the subject of the day, either reading a book together, doing a science project, or going for a nature walk.

It all lined up perfectly with what my student told me she wanted before the school year began. It was just a little flat. As flat as the worksheets we were completing. There was way more “seatwork” than I wanted and towards the end of the week Lucy was complaining that looking at all the words were “hurting her brain”.

We still had fun together, but I went into the second week ready to transition to something that looked a little more like interest-led unit studies vs. traditional schooling.


Our first week of homeschool co-op went well. It gets a little dicey at the end when baby’s ready for a nap.


Lots of playing, inside and out.


Science is her favorite subject so we broke out the science kit a few times.


Typical first week of school shenanigans.


As soon as the crayons and markers come out, the boys are ready to join in!

So I decided that one of the biggest assets of homeschool is changing everything up until you settle into what fits right. So change we did.

Homeschool Kindergarten [Curriculum & Schedule]

I think the only reason I’m writing this post is because of the joy I get from reading other people’s. Weird?

We’re cheating a little because we technically started at the end of February and took a summer break. But it makes me more confident in making this list because we know these are the things that work. And we understand a little better what kind of learner we’ve got on our hands.

We have been easing into the idea of school at home with Lu. When we started in February it looked something like 25% me reading aloud to her, 15% sitting down to do traditional school work, and 60% art and free play. It worked gloriously but we do want to start adding a little structure [because she craves a schedule] and some more subjects than the math and history we used at the end of last year.

So before we jump in with both feet this year, I gave my gal a little survey to see what she liked most and least last year:

+ Blending Words
– Sentences

+ Counting to 100
– Remembering Big Numbers

+ Every Part
– Nothing

+ Hearing Stuff / Coloring Pages
– Nothing

+ Worksheets
– Nothing

Favorite things? Blocks and Building Things.
Things that were hard? No.

So here’s what we’re using this year:


Continuing with Saxon Math 1. We are about 30 lessons in and Lucy is loving it. As the survey suggests, one of her favorite parts is the hundreds chart. She loves to do it forward, backward, and while “teaching” her brothers. I like the pace of this book for her. She is challenged but it’s slow enough and builds on itself enough that she isn’t flustered.


Since our style is Charlotte Mason / Montessori / Classical / Hands-on / Student-led [hehehe] we are doing a Nature Study this year. We’ll mostly be walking around our neighborhood and a couple of nature centers that are close by.


She did ask to do more science so we’ll be doing one day a week of reading together and one day of experimenting.


For the Bible this year, we are moving past the Jesus Storybook Bible, which we love but have read through a bunch, with something a little meatier. I also grabbed a couple sticker and coloring books from Dollar Tree for her to work on while I read aloud.


Reading has been a bit of a blemish on the otherwise great time we’ve been having together. We’ve tried a few of the different “Teach your kid in 100 lessons” style books and we both end up frustrated. So we’re relaxing in this subject for a while. We’re doing moveable alphabet work and the Explode the Code books. We’re also going to start the Phonics Museum [not pictured] program, which seems slower paced.


For History and Geography we’ll continue reading and doing coloring sheets from Story of the World. We’re going to work on map skills this year as well so I made this map puzzle from this pattern and we’ll do some of the activities from the books.


We will also continue our Magic Tree House real-alouds and mapping. I can hardly believe we’ve read almost 30 books together! They have been so fun!


We are going to continue Handwriting Without Tears and as much hands-on work as we can fit in. She loves these.


To keep everything organized, we have a weekly work folder where I can have worksheets ready to go. There’s nothing worse than sitting down to work and realizing you forgot to print something.

And, as requested, we’ll be doing tons of building with our wood blocks, legos, tinker boxes, and manipulatives.

I asked Lucy if she would rather do her school right after breakfast or while Landon is at school and Cohen is sleeping and she chose the morning. So our days will look something like this:

Partial Explode the Code lesson & Phonics Museum
Saxon Math
Handwriting Without Tears

Partial Explode the Code lesson & Phonics Museum
Saxon Math
Handwriting Without Tears
Story of the World or Map Skills

Partial Explode the Code lesson & Phonics Museum
Saxon Math
Handwriting Without Tears
Science Houghton Mifflin & either Berenstain Bears or Usborne

Phonics Museum
Saxon Math
Homeschool Co-op from 9-12 [Art, PE, Music, Sign Language]

Phonics Museum
Saxon Math
Science Little Explorers Experiments
Nature Study

I am curious to see if we will have to move some things to the afternoons when it’s quieter, but otherwise I feel pretty confident in our choices. Yay!

The Hilarious Joke Food Allergies Are

I quit Facebook a couple months ago. Shut down the account, the whole thing. I didn’t announce it; I just sort of backed out- exhausted by the veil it provided for people to say offensive things they’d never dream of saying in real life. It was glorious. I couldn’t believe how much time I recouped. My house was so clean!

But I ran into a couple of hitches. One being that most of the people within my immediate social circle use it to share exciting life events and I was missing “stuff” I didn’t want to. Another issue came when I went to log into things I’d previously signed up for using that super handy ‘Sign In With Facebook’ button and I couldn’t log in. [That Mark Z is a real trickster…] So I put my page back up. I told myself I’d check it once a day. It was fine.

And then today I see this little gem run across my feed:

I ate peanuts on a plane today and nobody died.

Hilarious. Right? It’s not the first thing I’ve come across to joke at an allergy-sufferers expense. It wasn’t really surprising and only a little upsetting. Mostly it’s just insensitive, I think. There have been memes suggesting food allergies are merely a form of natural selection. Hilarious. There have been giggles about really obvious food allergy labeling [like peanut butter saying in bold it contains peanuts]. Hilar. Waitstaff rants about catering to allergy divas. Hardy har. Everyone probably has some thing they’re sensitive to that others are more flippant about. At first I spoke up. I wanted to educate them. “Some people have airborne food allergies. That really could have killed them.” “Do you know how helpful detailed food labels are when you have to read the food label on every item you buy, every time you buy it (even if you’ve bought it thousands of times before!) to make sure it’s free from six different allergens.” “Sorry? We don’t eat out much because it’s really not convenient for us, either.”


I guess that’s why I quit Facebook. Why get mad or upset about something said by someone you really aren’t even friends with? I don’t feel like there are people in my everyday life who are flippant about my kids’ food allergies. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s friends keeping sunbutter on hand in case we come over. Changing their lunch menu to look like ours so my kids aren’t left out. My mom stocking her pantry full of my kids’ favorite [and expensive] allergen-free food before we visit. My sister-in-law having an allergen-free brownie sundae bar just for my kids at her son’s birthday! We are wrapped in love by friends who are willing to be educated and inclusive about food allergies.

So that’s what I remind myself of when someone wants to make a hilarious joke about food allergies. Maybe they’ll have someone in their lives they deeply care about one day who can show them what food allergies really look like. Maybe they’ll read this and decide 12 likes on their status isn’t really worth a joke about something so serious.

For now I’ll leave them with this:

I have a daughter. She’ll tell you she’s five. That she’ll be six in five months. And that she’s our “#1 kid” [our firstborn. hehe.]. In that order. Immediately upon making your acquaintance. We found out when she was very young that she had food allergies. We found out because she had weeping sores all over her legs that no amount of steroids would heal. She’s allergic to eggs, peanuts, milk, and wheat. And not just a little allergic. Eggs and peanuts can send her into anaphylactic shock. Yes, that’s something you learn the hard way. She need only eat trace amounts of eggs to begin vomiting with facial swelling and compromised breathing. Her body will cover itself in hives that arc all the way to the lymph nodes under her arms. It’s scary.

She has a brother. He’s only 19 months old. He’s a baby. He also has food allergies. And we keep finding more. At first it was the same issue. Eczema that we couldn’t heal. We had him tested and found out he was allergic to peanuts. Six months later, he ate some adorable cheddar bunnies and his face began to swell and raised hives spread all over his body. We had him tested again and found he’d developed an allergy to milk. No, I don’t know how food allergies develop either. No, neither my husband nor myself have food allergies. Six months later we were enjoying a dinner with our family on vacation when he had a tiny bit of hummus and his face began to swell. He started swaying when he tried to walk. It took Benedryl, two Epi-pens, a trip to the emergency room, and an adult-sized dose of oral steroids to stop the allergic reaction. A third round of allergy testing revealed he’s now allergic to eggs, peanuts, sesame seeds, almonds, and milk. At least that we know of. He’s just a baby.

So maybe I am a little angry tonight. Mostly I’m just sad for my kids. But to all those jokesters who think it’s hilarious to make light of food allergies, here’s my baby:


So hilarious.


Lucy ( AND LANDON!!!!) Lately

Today has been a real punch to the throat kind of day  somehow these posts always make me feel better.

Lucy: “Mom. Have you tasted this?”
Beth: “No. What’s wrong?”
Lucy: “Well. I think you accidentally made us kids some adult smoothies.”
Beth: “No. I definitely didn’t.”
Lucy: “Oh. Well. You must’ve just used too many veggies. It tastes awfully healthy.”

Beth: “Why are you crying!?”
Lucy: “Well, I forgot what number comes after 11.”


Lucy: “Mom! My fever was camouflaged!”
Beth: “Oh really? What does that mean?”
Lucy: “It means it snuck up on me!”

[Cohen pulling all the books off shelf.]
Lucy: “Cohen. Don’t do this to me.”

Beth: “Go find it. You can do it. You’re a big kid.”
Lucy: “Oh yeah, I forgot.”

Lucy: “Oh no. I forgot my allergy medicine.”
Beth: “It’s okay. I have some in my purse.”
Lucy: “Yeah. And all my teachers know my allergies… And I have this baby! [holds up medical alert bracelet].”

Lucy: “Dad. Will you cheer for me at my baseball game?”
Chuck: “Of course.”
Lucy: “Well. You should say something like ‘Go Wildcats, go!”
Chuck: “Okay.”
Lucy: “Okay! Let’s hear you.”
Chuck: ” ‘Go Wildcats, go!”
Lucy: “Good thing you have a week to keep practicing.”

[Landon has been doing hooked on phonics stuff all afternoon while Lucy plays candy crush.]
Lucy: “You better not learn to read before me! That would not be fair!”

Lucy: “I love to spell! S – P – E – I – L!”

[I stubbed my toe while sweeping around the table.]
Lucy: “It’s a hard life being a mom. I can’t wait ’till I’m a teenager!”

Lucy: “I can feel my bones! Under my skin! I know it’s them ’cause they feel like sticks!”

Lucy: “I kind of like Cohen. He’s, like, so interesting. And weird. Like George, he’s pretty curious.”

Lucy: “Can you spell castle one letter at a time?”
Beth: ” C-A-S-T-L-E ”
Lucy: “Now can you spell village?”
Beth: ” V-I-L-L-A-G-E ”
Lucy: “Do all princess words end in ‘e’!?

[Playing the sword dual game on the Wii with her Poppa.]
Lucy: “Let’s play again Poppa! ‘Cause it looked like you were having so much fun when you lost and fell!”

Lucy: “Mom. Now I’m going to teach you a lesson about life…”
[For the curious, it was a rousing soliloquy on birthday party politics.]

Lucy: “I love my Bible. It’s kind if like a comedy book.”

[Pulling up to the children’s museum we frequent.]
Lucy: “Coey. Get ready for the biggest day of your life!”

Lucy: “If there are any signs with numbers on then I’m going to read them with my numbering skills.”

Lucy: “Dad! I think my tummy really hurts. I’m awfully poopy. I think that’s just what some people do!”

Lucy: “Mom, guess what!?”
Beth: “What?”
Lucy: “When I’m kind of older you’re still not going to be old.”
Beth: “Thanks?”

[Brings me all of the toilet paper from the roll. Balled up tight.]
Landon: “You need to buy some more.”

Zoodles & Turkey Quinoa Meatballs

Am I late to the zoodle party? I thought zucchini noodles were out of reach because I don’t own a fancy spiralizer to make all my vegetable noodle dreams come true. But it occurred to me that I do have a madoline slicer. 99 problems, you guys.

If you’ve never used a mandoline slicer, don’t listen to that inner voice that says, “Oh, it goes so much faster if you don’t use the guard.” Every. Time. Hashtag zoodles and thumb for dinner

Zoodles & Turkey Quinoa Meatballs

Zoodles [Zucchini Noodles] & Turkey Quinoa Meatballs
serves 4+

For the zoodles:
slice up your zucchini [I use a julienne attachment on my mandoline slicer]
put it in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper, set aside.
To give you an idea of serving sizes, one large zucchini will make enough noodles for one adult.

For the meatballs:
[inspired by these asian quinoa meatballs]

1# ground turkey
1 cup quinoa [cooked however you normally do]
1 egg [We tried both a flax egg and potato starch-based egg replacer and the flax seemed to retain moisture best]
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 c onion, finely diced
3 T Worcestershire sauce
2 t olive oil [we needed this for our egg free version. I’m not 100% sure if meatballs with egg will need the oil]
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Mix all meatball ingredients together. Using a cookie scoop, form the meatballs [makes 30 or so]. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

When the meatballs have 5 or so minutes left, heat a couple teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet. When it’s hot, add the zucchini. You only want to cook it a couple minutes, if you cook it too long the veg will start to break down.

Assemble bowl with sauce of your choice.

Leftover meatballs can be frozen!

Zoodles & Turkey Quinoa Meatballs

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Lucy Lately

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

“Look at the mountains. This is like a dream come true.”

Pulling away from the airport gate: “Now we’re talking!”

“Mom. Don’t you wish we had a robot that did all our chores so that you and me could play Barbies all day!?”

“Lucy! You did a great job at your first swim class!”
“I do what I can.”

“Do you wish everybody in the world was Captain Hook so that nobody would have to clean their rooms!? [Before I have time to answer.] Me too.”

“Thanks, Siri. You’re the best robot friend I’ve ever had.”

“Lucy. Stop. What are you doing to your brother!?”
“Nothing. I’m just pretending he’s my puppy.”

“It’s like the mailman doesn’t care about kids who like Legos, and animals, and toys.” [On days when a magazine or toy ad doesn’t come.]

[On completing a “History of Me” worksheet for school.]
“Where were you born?”
“St. Louis, Missouri.”
“Good! What country?”
“Mizzou country?”

[After he gets hurt.]
“Landon I have some good news. I’m kind of a doctor.”

“Daddy, what does diva mean?”
“Well. [asks Siri] Siri says it’s someone who might get too much attention and cries when they don’t get what they want. Lucy, I think you might have a little diva in you…”
“Let’s never speak of this again.”

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