I spend a couple of hours most days preparing, cooking, serving, and cleaning up after meals for my family of six. On the weekends, my husband and I try to spend a few hours each Sunday prepping our meals for the week, which makes life run much easier during the time-crunched weeknights. I would love to be able to say that I am a natural chef, whose talents are just waiting to be set free when I have a little more time...or when I find the perfect cookbook. But since a few members of my family are chefs who can really cook, I’ve faced the fact that I can barely hold my own in the kitchen.
Here are some things that I have discovered through the past 17 years of cooking for kids, though, that have made life easier:
Do you think that Father's Day is another Hallmark holiday, created just to sell greeting cards? Not so! In 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd, in Spokane, Washington, was listening to a lecture on Mother's Day, and thinking about her father's incredible accomplishment in raising his six children alone after the death of her mother. Sonora wanted to honor her father in the same way that mothers were already honored, and she worked with local clergy and the YMCA to host its Father's Day celebration on June 19, 1909.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, calculated according to when the crescent moon is sighted.
During this entire month, adult Muslims do not eat from sunup to sundown. This is called fasting. In the evening, the day's fast is broken with a meal called iftar. Before the day's fast begins, Muslims eat a pre-dawn meal called suhoor. When the month is over, Muslims celebrate a three-day holiday with feasting and gift exchanges, called Id-ul-Fitr (the Festival of Breaking the Fast).
I use Amazon.com for more than shopping—it's a great place to research and discover new books and movies as well (which I usually turn around and check out from the library). Now there is an awesome library extension you can install that will personalize your experience on Amazon and reflect whether the library has the book you are looking at in its catalog.
Library Extension is free, easy to install, and doesn't require making an account. Just go to http://www.libraryextension.com/, read the brief directions, and click "Install the Library Extension Now." After installation, choose the Central Rappahannock Regional Library from the list of libraries provided. One note: there is an ebooks option you can enable, but I found this doesn't work as well as the print books. I recommend not installing it or at least not getting excited if it tells you that CRRL has the ebook available.
I have a teen daughter who loves to cook. She started baking things on her own as soon as she could safely operate the oven, and her favorite gift to date was the electric skillet her chef aunt gave to her one Christmas so she could start making pancakes. Eventually, she became interested in preparing complete meals, but my cooking books didn't really appeal to her. She was looking for a guide that would instruct her through doable - yet appealing - meals. Teens Cook: How to Cook What You Want to Eat by sisters Megan and Jill Carle fit the bill perfectly.
One of my daughters enjoys math, science, and thinking about seemingly abstract concepts in practical terms. I brought home the picture book Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford, thinking it would be particularly suited to capture her interest. In it, a young girl named Uma stares at the night sky dotted with stars and asks how many there are. Maybe as many as infinity? And then she begins to wonder how other people imagine infinity.
She performs her own research, asking her friends, Grandma, school staff, and ponders their unique responses. Her friend Sam introduces her to the infinity symbol and Grandma explains how infinity reminds her of their family tree. Other ideas about infinity make her head hurt, like her music teacher's idea of infinity as music that goes in a circle and never ends.
Ruby is 16 and lives at Camp Thurmond, a government-run work camp with harsh restrictions and brutal punishments in The Darkest Minds, by Alexandra Bracken. She has been there since she was 10, shortly after a deadly virus appeared and proved fatal to most of Ruby’s classmates. Survivors of the virus developed psychic abilities of varying levels, and they were grouped into five classifications that indicate their power/danger level: Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red, with red being the most dangerous. Ruby is secretly an Orange who has tricked the officials (her power is entering other people’s minds) into believing she is a Green, which has kept her safe until now. But the officials are aware that there are some hiding Yellows, Oranges, and Reds, and they are using new tactics to ferret them out.
"Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying.”
Will Schwalbe comes from a family where everyone is always reading—and sharing their opinions about—a book. So asking his mother, “What are you reading?” was a fairly commonplace sort of question. Except that it was posed in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and his mother, Mary Anne, was about to start chemotherapy for advanced pancreatic cancer. During Mary Anne’s treatments and while she is convalescing at home, Will finds that discussing books strengthens the connection between them and allows them to safely explore such sensitive topics as regret, dying, and faith. His book, The End of Your Life Book Club, is both an amazing tribute to his mother and to the books they both cherished.
It is fascinating to trace the domino effect caused by something so seemingly small and insignificant as a bolt of cloth. In Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague, by Geraldine Brooks, this bolt spreads misery in the form of the bubonic plague from London to a small, remote English village in 1666. Anna Frith, a young widow who has already seen her share of misfortune, is spared the fatal boils while all around her, family, friends, and neighbors succumb to the terrible disease.
Seventeen-year-old Alex has had a rough time lately in Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick. First her parents tragically pass away in a helicopter accident, and then she is diagnosed with a brain tumor, which she dubs “the monster.” Fed up with managing the monster and all of its side effects like losing her sense of smell, she escapes to a campsite for a few days to think about her options. And then the whole world is turned upside down by an electromagnetic pulse that leaves much of the population dead or changed into flesh-eating zombies.