Friday, May 27, 2016

Holidays: What does Memorial Day mean for your family?

Statue from monument at Gettysburg NMP

“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service 
of our country can never be repaid. 
They have earned our undying gratitude. 
America will never forget their sacrifices.” 

President Harry S. Truman

Cemetery at Gettysburg NMP

Memorial Day in a lot of places in the United States, for a lot of families, means barbecues, backyard activities, a long weekend, the unofficial start of summer, or even prom weekend. The history of Memorial Day is often overlooked as we rush to purchase hamburgers and rolls and make potato salad. 

This holiday is actually "a day of remembrance for those who died in service of the United States of America."  It was "borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead" ("Memorial Day | In Memory of Our Honored Dead." Memorial Day. Web. 17 May 2016.) General John Logan, National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, proclaimed May 20, 1868 as a day to decorate the graves of the fallen because it was not the anniversary of any particular Civil War battle.

By the 20th century, various days had emerged to honor the Union and Confederate dead of the Civil War, so Memorial Day was extended to honor all Americans who died while in military service.  A typical way to honor those who have died in military service is to visit cemeteries or memorials and place flowers or the American Flag at tombstones of servicemen and women or at the base of the memorial statue.

Our family always celebrated Memorial Day by visiting a local battlefield or memorial site and having a picnic at that location. We did this for most of my childhood at the bequest of my mom.  So we learned something about how our country achieved its freedom and were also able to share time with family.

As my two littles and my stepson (who is a typical teen focused on video games) get older, I would like to make sure that they remember the true meaning of Memorial day.  So even if we don't get to visit a battlefield, memorial, or cemetery this weekend, we will be making a trip in the near future.

I am pleased with the number of cemeteries within driving distance that continue to place flags upon the graves of veterans.  There are so many Americans who have fought and died for our country, we should not forget them and their service. 

Olmstead, Larry. "Let's Not Forget What Memorial Day Weekend Is Really All About - The High Cost of Freedom." Forbes. Forbes Magazine. Web. 17 May 2016.

Photographs by KAH 2010-2012. 

"President Truman's Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress. April 16, 1945." Address to Congress, 1945. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2016.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Children's Books

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I have always loved to read.  A love instilled by my mom, grandmom, and grandpop.  From early on my mom read me books both from the library and my own collection.

Fortunately, I still have the vast majority of my childhood books inscribed with the date, occasion, and signature of who game them to me. These I shared first with my stepson and now with my son and daughter.

I hope to instill that same love of books to my son and daughter. While my husband and I have tried to rekindle the spark in my stepson who has grown to dislike reading as he got older, I hope to avoid that journey with my two little ones.

My son has already begun his reading journey, when he would ask us to tell him the letters on our t-shirts last year just prior to his second birthday.  He has started reading a few books both by memory of the stories and his ever expanding reading vocabulary.

With her brother as an example, my daughter already enjoys flipping through board and cloth books and pointing out both words and pictures.  Sometimes she will just sit down and pull the books off the shelf as she flips through them.  Right now I think her two favorites are Doggies (which we picked up at the library 'used') and Daniel's Day at the Beach.

Some current favorite books in our household (as of 2016) are as follows:

Daniel's Day at the Beach
I am a Big Brother
Ten Tiny Toes
Squishy Turtle

Busy/Quiet Boxes - Straw

In order to promote my toddler's imagination and quiet activities, after discovering the idea of busy or quiet boxes online, I scoured Pinterest for ideas that I could put into action.

If you are unfamiliar with busy or quiet boxes, they are quite simple and can be implemented in a number of ways. A box can be created for each day of the week (or just the weekdays), bags can be created for each separate activity so you can pick and choose when to share certain activities, or bags can be created that can be taken out to restaurants and shopping trips.

Crazy Straw Threading 

The crazy straws were purchased at a dollar store, while the felt was left over from previous projects.

The goal of this quiet activity is to thread the felt pieces along the straw to promote the development of fine motor skills.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Cooking Quest: Miniature Meatloaf

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This is another modified recipe from Freezer Pleasers that I made last year prior to my daughter's arrival to have ready for an easy meal. Because I knew it was a success with almost everyone, I made it for dinner last week.

Typical of any toddler, my son enjoyed it the very first time and the next couple of times he wanted no parts of the meatloaf.  But the other night he surprised me by eating all of his miniature meatloaf and even trying his mashed potatoes (which he doesn't like at all). I can't wait to see if he likes them as much when I defrost the ones in the freezer. My daughter also enjoyed her portion of the nights meal using her hands to eat everything, including the mashed potatoes.

miniature meatloaf
 in the pans (the recipe makes about 18 miniature meatloaf)

Our son enjoying his plate!

Looking for more quick and easy meals? 


Monday, May 16, 2016

Crafts: Mother's Day Wreath

Egg Carton floral wreath

For Mother's Day, my son and I made wreaths for my son's grandmothers and his Godmother.  I originally got the idea from spring wreaths made of egg carton flowers.  Since I knew how great cardboard egg cartons are for crafts, I had been saving our old ones for quite a while.  I used a total of three and cut them into separate sections.


  • Cardboard egg cartons
  • Scissors
  • Paper plates
  • Paint and supplies
  • Fasteners (or other attaching supplies)

Egg cartons being cut up          separated egg carton                      pieces of an egg carton


My son painted the flowers in two sessions.  The first time he had to be encouraged to paint the inside of the flower and during our second painting session he was really interested in painting the plates.

Painting the egg carton painting the egg carton

After they dried, I attached the flowers to the paper plates using fasteners because it was a material I had at hand.  One could use glue or pipe cleaners and buttons to make the wreaths even fancier or if your crafty kid is older than mine (almost 3).

Painted egg cartons 

Egg carton floral wreath

All told the project would take maybe two hours painting with 10 minutes prep time and 20 minutes to attach them to plates.

I wasn't concerned that they look too perfect because they are supposed to be from a toddler - not his mom.

Creative Egg Carton Crafts

I linked up with the following blog(s):

Other Mother's Day Posts on A Mom's Quest to Teach 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Cooking Quest – Belated Mother's Day Beef Stuffed Peppers

Rice, green pepper - Cooking Quest

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Before my daughter was born I pre-made a variety of freezer meals from Taste of Home Freezer Pleasers Cookbook so we would have easy meals during her early days with us. A hit with my family was the Beef Stuffed Peppers which I have modified even more to fit the needs of our family.  I made these last night as a belated Mother's Day dinner to share with my mom.
stuffed peppers topped with cheese
Beef Starter Recipe - modified (original from Freezer Pleasers Cookbook)

Ingredients include:
  • 3 lbs ground beef (or thereabouts) 
  • seasonings 
  • 12 oz bottle of chili sauce
  • 1 envelope of brown gravy mix
  • 1 envelope of onion soup mix 
  1. Cook beef with seasonings till no longer pink; drain (please make sure your food is thoroughly cooked)
  2. Add chili sauce and 2 envelopes of mixes 
  3. Cook for approximately 10 minutes 
  4. Cool and keep about 3 cups for peppers and freeze the rest for up to 3 months 
Stuffed Peppers Recipe - modified (original from Freezer Pleasers Cookbook)

Ingredients include:
  • Beef Starter Mix (see above) 
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked rice (I use instant rice) 
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • dash of pepper 
  • green peppers 
  • shredded cheddar cheese 
  1. Combine beef, rice, tomato sauce and pepper in a bowl.
ground beef, tomato sauce, and rice

  1. Clean peppers (remove top & seeds). 
  2. Spoon beef mixture in each pepper.
  3. Place in microwave safe dish and cover loosely. 
  4. Cook on high 7 to 9 minutes (rotating peppers about half way) or until peppers are tender. 
  5. Let stand for 3 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle with cheese.
The left over beef starter with rice can be served plain without the pepper for those who don't like peppers – like myself and my toddler.

We saved some white rice to serve plain to my toddler and one year old.  I also cooked carrots and corn as vegetables on the side.  My little gal amazed me with eating all of her corn but barely touching her rice.

I have used a variety of recipes from Taste of Home Freezer Pleasers Cookbook for both before and after my daughter was born.

Please make sure your food is completely cooked and at the proper temperature before enjoying it. Please make note of any food allergies in your family.

Looking for more Cooking Quests?