Junk Mailman

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If you ever feel like you can’t open the bills or get through the mail with a toddler in the house, this game is for you!

For a few days running, I set aside the junk mail that arrived and kept a collection in a paper bag. When I needed to sit down and peruse the items that mattered, I presented Veronika with this bag.

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She thought she’d hit the jackpot! There was paper to rip…

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…and envelopes to open. This last part is still tricky for her, but if I start a corner, she proudly pulls the document the rest of the way out.

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Inevitably there are lots of pictures and pages to flip through, especially if you save up catalogs.

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At one point, she needed a pen just like mommy and I could tell she felt very important!

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The game was such a hit that I’m going to make it a regular occurrence around here.

Do Nothing Day

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Like many of you, we now find ourselves in a period of “social distancing”; school is closed for 3 weeks and we’re limiting our exposure to the rest of the world. Places that are familiar to the kids like libraries, museums, and local classes are shut down. So I pondered how to approach this period without scaring the kids. One idea? Turn the ability to do nothing into a game, at least for one day. As in: have a do nothing day!

The idea of no chores and no appointments and no assignments is sure to appeal to kids, turning what might otherwise feel like a strange break into a fun adventure. We almost always have at least one outing or activity daily, so today when the kids woke up I declared it a “Do Nothing Day”. We even could stay in our pajamas as long as we wanted!

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Beds could go unmade.

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Chores could be skipped and playtime was a must. The kids could lounge together on the couch eating snacks and watching a Disney movie.

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Other perfect ways to pass the day? Building with Legos…

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….coloring pages…

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…and getting silly while cooking a recipe all fit the bill.

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Obviously we won’t keep this up every day (home school for Travis starts tomorrow!) but it set things off on a playful, joyful note instead of a scary one.

A few other helpful tips to “social distance” without alarming the kids.

  • Get outside every day. Even a small patio or lawn will give your kids fresh air and a daily dose of nature, even when you avoid playgrounds and group areas.
  • Use Facetime and Skype.┬áStay in touch with older relatives or others you might not be able to see in person now.
  • Order groceries online. Though this is something I’ve skipped in the past, you’ll have peace of mind if you check out an online service instead of bringing kids to a crowded store.
  • Build your mom community: Set up a group text list, and you’ll keep each other sane virtually, answer one another’s questions, and get through this time “together apart”.
  • Have a routine every day. Kids thrive on routine. Now that our Do Nothing Day is done, each day will have scheduled time for reading, math work, quiet coloring or puzzles, crafts, and more.
  • But finally, a little extra screen time can’t hurt. And will help you keep your sanity.

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Please stay tuned. I’ll have lots of activities and crafts in the days and weeks ahead. Wishing health to all.

Hearty Lasagna Soup

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There is a play on words here in this recipe title from Raddish Kids, meaning not just that the soup is hearty and will fill you up, but also that it’s meant to be shared with those you “heart” and love. So there was no better time than a family day of “social distancing” to whip up a big pot of it! Travis loved getting silly as we cooked, including tasting the concentrated flavor of tomato paste…

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…and making lasagna noodle “beards”!

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  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 8 lasagna noodles
  • 8 basil leaves, minced
  • 1 cup shredded non-dairy mozzarella
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, zucchini, and salt; cook for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are very tender.
  2. Add the mushrooms, tomato paste, and oregano; cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the diced tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil.
  4. Meanwhile, place the lasagna noodles in a zip-top plastic bag. Use a mallet to crush the noodles. This is bound to be your kids’ favorite step!
  5. Add the noodles to the pot; reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the noodles are tender.
  6. Stir in the basil and then ladle the soup into bowls. Top with mozzarella, if desired!

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The recipe card also included fun facts about pasta shape names (Travis giggled over “orecchiette”, or “little ears”), and stovetop safety tips.

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More importantly, though, there were some nice suggestions for how to express love to family members, whether with kind words, special surprises, thoughtful gifts, or physical snuggles. And of course, spending quality time together! We’re all going to have lots of that in the days of self-quarantine ahead, so here’s to loving moments. And if you go stir-crazy, just bash up some more lasagna noodles!

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