Yesterday and today, the weather has been so beautiful that the kids and I have been spending the majority of our time outdoors enjoying it! As I have previously mentioned, Emma cannot get enough of the outdoors and Matthew just loves basking in the sunlight. However, I have learned that there are some great things and some not-so-great things about spending a lot of time outside with my crazy kids.
The GREAT Things About Being Outdoors with the Kids
Dandelion Bouquets! Matthew has picked me so many! It touches my heart each and every time. He calls them "sunflowers". I will never tell him they are weeds.
Our house stays clean. I don't care how much grass they pull up or how many rocks they toss about. It's much better than destroying the inside of our house like they did ALL WINTER LONG.
We get our daily dose of Vitamin D. We look better, feel better, and are overall much happier when we can absorb some of those glorious rays of sunshine!
Baby Summer Clothes are awesome. Little kids are so cute outfitted in summertime tops and bottoms. Emma has so many cute little sundresses that I am just dying for her to wear! I also love shoving her chunky little feet into sandals. And baby hats and sunglasses? I might die from all the cuteness!
Complete and utter Exhaustion. Okay this might not sound like such a good thing, but I mean it in regards to the kids, not myself. When playing outside, they wear themselves out so much that they nap so well and go to bed super easily! It's fantastic because then I can catch a nap or Paul and I can go to bed early (because we are 90).
The Not-So-Great Things About Being Outdoors with the Kids
Emma eats rocks.
Emma eats bugs.
Emma eats grass.
Emma eats mulch.
Emma eats sidewalk chalk.
Matthew throws a tantrum because Emma ate the red chalk he was using to draw Spider-Man.
Emma eats dandelions.
Matthew throws a tantrum because Emma ate the dandelions from the bouquet he had just spent 10 minutes picking for me.
Both my kids are white as a sheet and require copious amounts of sunscreen to be applied every 90 minutes.
Emma eats sunscreen.
You get the idea. I'm very glad that summer is here, but I'm going to have to watch Emma like a hawk. She's a lot easier to control indoors!
The best part about meal planning in summer is all the fresh, local produce that is available. We tend to eat a lot lighter during the summer, partially because I do not feel like turning on the oven most of the times but also because so many fruits and vegetables are at their peak! We eat a lot of salad normally, but over the next few months we will be eating a LOT more salad. Luckily, pretty much everyone enjoys vegetables and fruit in our household.
The only type of salad that I have had a bit of trouble getting Paul to eat is Kale. It is a bit too tough and chewy for him most of the time. Paul really would prefer chewing his food as little as possible - his beautiful set of teeth are honestly a bit of a waste on him. He's looking forward to the day when he has to live off an all-liquid diet. Anyway, because of his hatred of mastication, Paul really dislikes Kale in his salad. I do love it and continue to serve it even though it is not his favorite. If I prepare the kale ahead of time, it has plenty of time to "soften" and absorb some of the vinaigrette and not be as challenging to eat. I've begun chopping my kale lightly in the food processor just to break it up into small pieces to speed up the softening process. I then will toss the greens in a vinegar-heavy dressing a few hours before serving. The rest of the goodies are added shortly before dinnertime and what results is a beautiful, healthy salad that even my picky husband can stomach.
I like to eat this salad all by itself as a main dish. I find it very filling and refreshing. It's a great way to welcome summertime!
10 cups kale, stems removed
1/4 cup sherry vinaigrette
1 clove garlic
1 medium shallot, peeled
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 apple, chopped
1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup feta
Working in 2-3 batches, place the kale by the handful in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse intermittently until the kale leaves are chopped to desired size. Remove chopped kale to a large salad bowl and repeat with remaining kale.
In the now-empty food processor, add the shallot and garlic clove. Pulse until chopped finely. Add the vinegar and sugar and turn the processor on. Once the vinegar, sugar, shallots, and garlic are pureed, slowly stream in the olive oil as the machine is running. Let the machine continue running until the mixture is thick. Stir in the salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat the kale greens very well. Let the kale stand for about 10 minutes to allow the leaves some time to soften. Add the chopped apple, cranberries, sunflower seeds, and feta. Toss to combine.
Alternatively, you could prepare this a few hours ahead of time. Cover and refrigerate. When ready to serve, add the apple, cranberries, sunflower seeds, and feta.