Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanks & Giving

With Thanksgiving coming in a few days and Christmas just around the corner, nostalgia has set in.  I think about all the holidays our family has celebrated in the past.  The all included the 4 F’s, Family, Food, Fun and Fellowship.  We have truly been blessed through the years. 

With this being said, there are many people out there who have not been as fortunate as you and I have been.  Simple basics such as food, shelter and clothing do not belong to everyone.  There are a lot of needy individuals on the street and in shelters.  All of these people are not non-working “takers”.  Many of them have had one misfortune after another only to find themselves in trouble and needing assistance.

As a mother, grandmother and early childhood educator, I feel it is our duty to help others and to be examples to our children.  Children are basically ego-centric and need encouragement to think about others.  Through our example, we can make a difference in our world today which will be carried out in our world of the future. 

Here are few ideas to get you started on making a difference in our lives, our children’s lives and the lives of people we may not know.
  • Pack a peanut butter sandwich each morning and hand it to a person on the corner who may be hungry.
  • Empty your change in the jar of a needy person.
  • Give to Salvation Army at Christmas time.
  • Go to the Dollar Store and stock up on gloves, scarves and hats and drop them at your church, shelter, Interfaith, etc. 
  • Purchase a newspaper on the street corner even if you already have one.
  • Pack a bag of canned goods and donate them to a food pantry or give them to a person who may be on a street corner.
  • Pay it forward by leaving your change to be applied to the person behind you at the drive through.
  • Adopt a family or a child at Christmas and let your children go shopping and wrap the presents with you.
  • Donate Girl Scout cookies to the soldiers.
  • Donate books or toys to a homeless shelter.
  • Pass a smile to someone in the grocery store.
  • Let someone else in line in front of you at the mall or grocery store check out.

These are just a few things we can do to make a difference.  It is not about money, it is about hope.   I’m sure that many of you have other suggestions and we welcome your ideas.  Please leave a comment with your own ideas.

Just think, if we each did something small every day to help someone else while our children witnessed it.  This could spark thier interest to serve others as well.  And what a different world it would be.  WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!  

 Remember, Thanksgiving is about Thanks and Giving.   

Let your light shine and enjoy the season!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Gobble Gobble

Family Fun night at our house tonight!

I used cardstock to paint the hands. 
I let the boys tell me what color to paint each finger.
And Luke painted Daddy's hand!

Then add legs, eyes and cut out!

I added names under each hand and the year.

I found a frame 50% off at Hobby Lobby that was made to hold 3 pictures with a matte.
 I took out the matte. Covered the back in burlap, and attached my turkeys.

Viola.  Instant Thanksgiving Decoration!

However, how great would this be to do with the Grandparents at Thanksgiving too!
That way you can always have their 'Turkey' for years to come!


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dry Erase Crayons... a new must have!

Okay, can you dust off the cobwebs?!!!
It seriously has been forever since I have posted on here! 

Let me fill you in on my life in a super quick way: 
Found out my husband was going to be transferred in February. Two weeks later our house went on the market. Four weeks later we were under contract. 4 weeks after that, we were under contract on the new house...and bam, we relocated 245 miles north.
So basically, I felt like I had nothing to blog about. All I would do was organize my house, clean my house, clean it again, and then pack.

However, last week I went to my favorite/least favorite place to shop: 
Wal-Mart for a nap mat. 
And the teacher in me could not pass up all the school supplies. I snagged some random stuff which I think I will start blogging more about later.

(Here is the nap mat tutorial I am going to follow. I mean, $100 bucks on etsy is just way too much for me. I spent $12 each on fabric, and $13 for the mat. So, two washable nap mats for less than $50.)

But today, we played around with these:

Here is an easy easy activity:
Grab a plastic sheet proctor.
A sheet of paper.
And a marker.
Draw anything you want them to try to trace and slide it inside the sheet protector!
 Instant dry erase board!
For example:
2-3 year olds: straight lines, zig zag lines, shapes, single letters (like A a )
4-6: Full name (remember, we don't write or read in all caps, so you don't either.)
Site words, alphabet, numbers, a non stick person
6-and up: spelling words (tracing over spelling words 3x is a proven technique to use with children with dyslexia.), art

Hudson: don't mind his grip, we are working on that too!
 He is working so hard trying to stay on the straight black line!
 See that black rag? The box comes with this neat mitt type eraser. Hudson loved that too.

My guys aren't even three yet, but they focused on this task for about 10 minutes. 
I was over zealous putting their whole name on a sentence strip. But hey, they need to be able to 'read' it and recognize and pick out letters. So still a teachable moment.

Speaking of sentence strips, they were also at Walmart on an end-cap. (When using them, make sure the red line is at the bottom. And please for me, Uppercase letters followed by lowercase. Can you tell it is my pet peeve!!!?)

I hope to be around more often! So check back!


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Father's Day Craft

A throwback from last year!

Most Valuable Daddy

Supplies Needed:
Brown Paint
Orange Paint
White Paint
Card Stock
Black Paint pen or Sharpie

Really Easy:

Paint a foot brown.
Add 3 white stripes
Outline with Sharpie
 Paint a hand orange.

Add basketball lines with sharpie or paint pen!

Print words on Cardstock, here Most Valuable Daddy

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Beans and Pasta Shapes

A meaningful activity never has to be a big, fancy, deal.

In fact, at this age, lessons are so short and simple, that they are constantly happening.  Even when you aren't meaning too!  Which is why we should be thoughtful about our time and interactions with our little ones.  They are ALWAYS learning from you!  Scary!

I've been so bad about snapping pictures, blogging really.  But today I managed to snap a few of our post-breakfast fun!  

We read:

as a little introduction to our activity.

Then I grabbed:
  • index cards
  • pasta and beans (stolen from our sensory table)
  • glue
  • marker
I drew a circle, triangle and square then labeled it at the bottom.  As I drew, I talked about the shape and letters I was writing.

He chose to start with the circle.

I glued on the drawing and let him get busy with the pasta and beans!

We talked about the shapes, how many sides they had, and real life objects that are those shapes.

Did he finish all 3?  No.
Did he finish 1?  No.

That is how he rolls.

All of 5 minutes later, we hung them on our magnet board.  Glue dripping and all.

The most important part of crafty looking, glue, paint-ishy projects is the PROCESS, 
not the end product.

We had a good 5 minutes talking about these shapes, all while doing a little fine motor work!  That is what the process was about!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Travel Stroller Review

Disclaimer:  I do not usually feel qualified to write a product review because:
A.  I'm too laid back that I often just go the cheapest route.
B. Or I wing it...live without it.

But I'm too excited about this smart purchase that I have to share!

Can I just tell you how naive I was originally choosing strollers well over 2 years ago.

I was swooned by the look, style, and millions of accessories available (for additional purchase, of course). 

I also thought that with our big, fancy, stroller I would NEVER need another stroller.  Especially one of those little rickety ones.  When experienced moms would rave about their "cheap little umbrella stroller"  I'd think..."I'm going to make my ONE stroller work for everything.  I'll never need one of those."

Well a few months into motherhood we began to travel again.  And the big stroller was impractical.  Impractical for going in and out of security in airports, in and out of taxi cabs, fitting in between the aisles of funky, exotic or ghetto (you choose) markets in Asia or boutiques in The Woodlands Market Street (again, you choose).

So we bought an umbrella stroller in China.  

It was "AMAZING."

Until it fell apart after a year.

But it did it's job.  Everything I asked of it.  And was well worth every 200 Yuan I spent.  ($30)

But after time, there were things it couldn't do like:
  • Be cleaned.  The fabric was cheap, I respect that.  200 Yuan!  Come on!
  • Cover my white, white, Vitamin D deficient child from the sun we'd see in these exotic places.  (Asia or Texas...you choose)
  • Be strolled with outdoors.  This would send me raging and threatening to rip it apart.
So against my normal shopping behavior, I researched decent products...by asking for suggestions of Lightweight Strollers on Facebook from my closest 910 friends..  I got some amazing responses!
1. Maclaren
2. City Mini
3. Combi
4. Cybex Onyx
5. Maxi Cosi Perle
5. Uppa Baby G-Luxe

Well, I did it!  I made a decision!

Here is what we're driving on vacation:
The Uppa Baby G-Luxe.


I hate shopping, so I set my limits to one store and decided to choose within their inventory.

They did not have most of the suggestions above.  I think only 2. So I'm not comparing by any means!  Ha!

BUT I'm super happy with my decision!

1. Super cozy seat.
2. Great wipe able fabric.
3. Lightweight.
4. Easy to fold!
7. Cup holder.
8. Shoulder strap...carries like a golf bag!
9. UV protective.
10. Great size basket!!  I can fit tons! Purse, camera bag, and Lunch Tote.
11. The handles can also be piled on with bags if need be.  And I need be quite often!

I'm so happy!  I'd give this 5 Stars! 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Literacy Development & Little Free Library

One of our favorite activities is a trip to the library.  I know I've blogged about this before but the changes I've been seeing in my 26 month old son recently is crazy!  And I give much credit to the amount of books read daily.

Some of the changes I've seen are that:

  • He is making real life connections to the stories he reads.
  • He recalls the stories as the real life connections are happening.  (See previous post for one example of a specific topic!)
  • He memorizes the book so quickly.  I didn't even know he had done this, but after reading a specific book literally 3 times in a row, I decided to turn it around on him and started pausing at certain words...low and behold he filled in the blank!!  That is called Shared Reading!
  • He is recognizing over half of the alphabet (capital letters) by a word associated with the letter or their sound.

The baskets around our home that used to be filled with burp clothes, next diapers and wipes are now filled with books.  Book baskets in every bathroom, both bedrooms, living room, game room, kitchen...and usually a few tossed about in the car.  So a library visit helps to freshen up those baskets!

I recently have been working with a Calgary non-profit called Calgary Reads.  It's a fabulous organization which helps promote literacy in several ways, like providing almost 600 tutors to struggling readers, educating parents and educators on literacy development and a massive community book sale.  I'm going to be working on a new project!!  Eeek...but it's a secret for now.  I'll let you know when it launches!!

Through Calgary Reads, I then learned of another organization Little Free Library.  And this has to be one of the coolest ideas I've heard of in a long time!

These little libraries are either ordered through Little Free Library or you can DIY!  

The idea is you take a book, leave a book and leave a note.  As a community you share your books.  After all, books are like diamonds, they never get old!  And also like diamonds, they are a bit expensive.  So why not share?  (Books, that is, not your diamonds!)

I really want to start something like this for my street.  We have so many kiddos on the block.  

Maybe even a monthly book swap?

What do you think?

Does your neighborhood have a Little Free Library?  Or any type of collaborative (simple) book swap?

I'm just getting fired up but would love your suggestions or input with with experience!

P.S. I'm a nerd.  I know it.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mommy Moment: Is Carter Team Edward?

Today was a strange day.

And I'm not quite sure what to make of my feelings at the moment.  I'm a bit sad, disappointed, confused and betrayed.  All by my little, 30% in Height and Weight, barely 2 year old son.

Carter may be a vampire.  Or worse, maybe even a bully.  I don't know yet.

I do know this.  He bit another child. (breathe, breathe, breathe.)

As a teacher, you are trained what to do in this specific situation.  It is, after all, a very crucial moment.
1. You separate the children.
2. Tend to the hurt child.
3. Talk with the biter.
4. Have the two "talk."  Encourage the biter to LOOK at their hurt friend (who is usually crying.)  Explain that their friend is hurting because of the bite, teeth are not for biting and it is not okay.

The next steps in a school setting are even worse.

5. You have to call each set of parents explaining the situation BUT leaving anonymity of the other student.  Eeeek!!!  Not fun!
6. Then of course, fill out paper work.
7. And some schools, depending on their age, have rules from the Big Whigs like: 3 strikes your out...like kicked out, kind of thing!  Seriously BIG deal.

Well, Carter bit.  And the Three Year Old boy cried.  It was sad.  And embarrassing, but mostly disappointing.

And even though I KNOW what to do, I was kind of like a deer in headlights.  I went through the motions.  But it was much more painful with Carter, than another student.

I KNOW the blah blah like: this is natural, happens commonly at this age, they use it in frustration when they have the lack of words or power.  And because I know and really believe this, I never judge another parent or their child when it is them in the situation.

But because it's Carter and me, I can't let it go.

I have to keep bringing it up at inappropriate times...like when he's seeming too happy or having too much fun, I have to say something like "Hey remember what happened at exercise today?  Three Year Old Boy was so sad.  Why did he cry?"  Or  "Is that a good cookie?  I like how you're using your teeth for food.  Is it nice to use our teeth to bite friends?"  When he looks glassy eyed again, I feel justice is being served and we continue on.  Appropriate?  I doubt it.  But I keep doing it.

Through the continuation of my workout class (where the incident took place) I couldn't keep my eyes off Carter.  He was now timid, sheepish and scared.  And I wanted it to stay that way.  If he got too close to another child, I didn't know what he would do next.  I was scared of my own child!!  And felt like I didn't even know him!?

It's now nap time and I'm looking up books like:

and wondering if this is really my son:

And what if he becomes the bully?  OH GOD NO!

Actually typing that last sentence out just made me start tearing up again.  

Yes, I teared up at workout class too, after I apologized for the 500th time.

Come back my silly boy!

I only want moments like this...for the rest of my life.

Ahhh, one can wish.  Right?

Side note: I almost typed out this question:
"Has your child ever done anything that has shocked you with sadness and or disappointment?"

But am scared that my parents would contribute!!  I know that answer!  

And now, I'm sorry.  I'm sure I was sorry then, but now I'm really sorry Mom and Dad.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Last Minute Valentine's Ideas

Well, here it is, February 13th!  One day before Valentine’s Day!

Now every year of my married life I start thinking about Valentine’s Day  in mid-January.  That’s all I do, think about it.  Seriously, every year I found myself in a panic the night before Valentine’s Day planning for the following morning.   If you find yourself in this predicament here are 10 quick tips that made this a special day for our family.

  1. Decorate your table for breakfast. Make confetti with shredded red and white paper.  Add a little shredded aluminum foil for some sparkle.  Toss this all over the table.
  2. Cut red, or pink hearts for placements or just toss them randomly on the table.
  3. If you have white paper napkins, just make polka dots or small red hearts on the napkins with a red marker. 
  4. Pink milk is as must!   Just add a drop or two of red food coloring in the milk and either serve it as a drink or use it on their cereal.
  5. If you are making pancakes, waffles, toast or lunch sandwiches cut them in to heart shapes.  Red strawberry jam was a hit around our house.
  6. Add a couple of construction paper hearts to their lunch boxes and you may even have a couple of red Hershey kisses left from Christmas to add.   Make sure to add s special “love note”.
  7. Make spaghetti and meatballs (red sauce) and salad for dinner. A cake with pink icing was the dessert.   I always seemed to have the dessert the ingredients for that in the pantry
  8. Scrounge around the house for red or white balloons.  Just tie them together and let them hang from a light fixture.  No need for fancy helium ones.  If you can only find white ones, decorate with a red marker. 
  9. No time to buy a valentine?  Make your own special valentine for your children and hubby.   You can use ANYTHING!!!!  I used to make oversized ones with poster board and construction paper hearts and markers.  The kids LOVED them.  It got to be a tradition that we continued through high school and into college days.
  10. Most important, is to remember that family love is the best love.  So, start looking around your house, gather any red scarves, jewelry, candles, construction paper, etc.   Have fun and spread the love!!!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Yummies Lately

I've been on a Cooking Spree lately.  Which isn't much for me...meaning that the cooking I do on my Cooking Spree isn't much cooking at all.  But I've created food for my family.  And they've been filled with goodness, so there!

1. Sweet and Salty Chickpeas

Carter calls these "Nuts."  He likes nuts.  And in a way, they remind me of nuts.  Crunchy, sweet, salty and addicting.

Thankfully, they are super easy to make.  We've been going through a batch in two days.

We call these "Cookie Dough" because I never actually have gotten to make them into the little cute balls you see above. It sits in the bowl and we pick and form chunks as we snack.  Lovely, huh?  But hey, it's egg free and got some goodness.  So eat your cookie dough without the guilt!!

Oooo.....just had a thought.  I need to try little chunks in vanilla frozen yogurt.  

Okay, now this is totally not my normal style of cooking.  Really just because it uses more than 5 ingredients and there are more than 3 steps.  (I'm not completely joking.)

So if I can make these and say, "They are EASY!"  
Eeek!  These made me so proud and excited!

Also, I should warn you, this may look like toddler food but really it's Hubby and I that can't stop snacking on them!  Yes, they were made for Carter's dinner one night, not just a snack.  They are sooo good.  As Hubby said:  "Man, these things are addicting!"  SCORE!

P.S.  KidEats is not only a fabulous new family friendly cooking blog but they also have great appropriate activities to do with your children. 

P.S.S. KidEats is having a giveaway for an adorable toy storage bag.

Enter now!  They are NEW blog, so odds are great for now.  Hurry, hurry!

If you try any of these recipes let me know what you think!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

One-to-One Correspondence (continued)

You guys must be some One-to-One Correspondence Loving Fools, because that seems to be a top post each week.

Which is GREAT!  It's such a great Math Readiness Skill!

If you would like some background on this topic check out the original post:

Two new games we've added to our Play Space are simple (and similar) ways to practice counting and the meaning behind those numbers you are chanting.

So this first one isn't really new...at all: 
We made it before Christmas.  The opposite side is painted green and has sparkles on it.   Yes, it was meant to be a Christmas Egg Carton Tree craft.  However, cutesy crafts just never go as planned in our home.

BUT if you just flip over the egg cartons, voila, a perfect way to organize and partition off little objects!  Which is the best way to enforce one-to-one correspondence in it's most basic form!

 This is the second:
I was planning on making it a train.  Right now they are cars that he drives all over the mat.  So they will probably stay that way.

I'm thinking this time we will paint the side you see!

To Make:
You will need egg cartons, staples (or glue if you are patient) and some objects to count.  
Cut egg cartons and assemble into a shape of your choice.

Rules of the Games:
1. Every ball needs a home.  
2. Every home only needs one ball.
3. Count the balls as they are placed in their "home."

I'm starting to hear some more number words recently!  His favorite seems to be 9, which is strange.  Every time we're counting his voice gets really loud on 9, like most people do for 10.  He cracks me up!

(and Carter, 2 years old)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Letter Recognition

Letter recognition seems to be a favorite of Carter's at the moment.  He only knows a select few, but he seems to spot these letters everywhere!

He'll shout:

"C"for Carter
"D"for Daddy
"M" (or "N" or "W") for Mommy
"L" for Lucy, our dog
and a few other select letters.

This all began with reading.  Then more specifically, ABC specific books like:

So recently, I decided to take it a step further.  A little experiment, if you will! :)

Up went a Word Wall in his space downstairs.  This is a "tool" that we were required to use while teaching in Texas.  However, I adapted it a bit for his age.

We are starting with words that he is very familiar with.  Like his family!  A picture is attached to the word to add meaning to the crazy letters on the wall!  :)

One color word.  A color that he never misses!  

Next will be yellow...his new favorite.

Finally, a word that is a Big Deal at the moment!  Two!  As he just turned two years old!

I added the two pom poms as counting objects.  

Adding labels to your house can also happen in a much more natural way than a Word Wall. 
  • Just write an object word on an index card.  (Chair, table, bed, bath, potty, etc.)
  • And tape it on the object while your child is watching.  
  • Explain what the word says.

 Teacher tip:
Talk about the labels around your house or on your Word Wall.
Talk about the letters.
Make connections like "Look at all of the M's in Mommy!  Let's count them!"


Monday, January 23, 2012

Carter's Hungry Caterpillar Birthday

Repost from my personal blog.  Sorry to "double dip." ~Sarah

We were so excited to celebrate our little man's 2nd birthday this weekend!

1-2 went by way too fast. :(

He was so excited and totally got it this year!  He woke up ready to party!  It was the sweetest thing!

So the theme was the Hungry Caterpillar book by: Eric Carle

I saw this theme while I was pregnant with him and kept it in the back of my mind.  He is a book-a-holic so he really understood that he was having a caterpillar party!  

Here is a little photo tour:

I made play doh for their party bags.

The favors:  play doh tools, bath crayons, play doh and mustache stickers (Carter HAD to have them at the Dollar Store...so okay, we go them.)


Made some little party circles with my handy-dandy computer.

The Hungry Caterpillar for everyone to sign.



Happy Birthday Carter!

King Carter.



I also made water bottle labels!

AND had a little (very simple) craft station...which was used by the only girl.  Ha ha.

Such a fun theme to do!  There are so many ideas online too!  I pinterested quite a bit for it!  There was even a blogger whom shared her food labels!  Don't you love all the sharing that goes on the internet these days!!!


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