Now blogging at THIS SIMPLE HOME.

Now blogging at THIS SIMPLE HOME.

At This Simple Home

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What's in the Bible Video Review and Giveaway

Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales, has created a new DVD series that is engaging and fun that teaches more than just morals and Bible stories. It's called What's in the Bible-and explains what is in the Bible and how the stories all fit together to tell THE story of God's love for us. Though animation and puppetry is used, there is plenty in these videos for adults to learn, too! I like that Phil Vischer, himself, also presents a lot of the content. From Tyndale: Kids today consume a staggering five hours of media each day, and may spend about one hour a week in church. Seven out of ten American adults believe kids receive inadequate spiritual instruction. For conservative Christians, the number rises to nine out of ten. It’s no wonder the Church is so biblically illiterate:
· 64% of Americans said they did not read the Bible because they are too busy.
· In a report on America’s religious illiteracy, USA Today reported that 50% of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were married.
· A 2000 study showed that 60% of evangelical Christians believed that Jesus was born in Jerusalem rather than Bethlehem.
· Only half of American adults can name even one of the four Gospels
Phil’s series, What’s In the Bible?, is part of the solution to the problem of biblical illiteracy. This 13-part DVD series will take you through the entire Bible—Genesis through Revelation—in a format that provides the best of biblical education for kids. The first two DVDs, In the Beginning and Let my People Go, will take you and your kids through Genesis and Exodus through hilarious new characters, catchy songs, and engaging animation.
As Christians, my husband and I want to teach our children about God. We believe that we can't depend upon the church to do it. I truly think this series would be a good tool to use to help children understand the story of God and what He's done for us. This is not just another collection of Bible stories.
This video series addresses a lot of big questions.
Who wrote the Bible?
How do we know we can trust it?
How do all the stories fit together to tell ONE story?
These first two videos In the Beginning and Let My People Go even address some difficult topics.
Why are there different numbers of books in Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant Bibles?
How long is a day when referring to Creation?
Explains words like testament and canon.
And more.
These show how the Bible is reliable and verifiable. Though a three year old might enjoy the video series, it is well beyond a three and most four year olds. This is recommended for ages 5-9, but I believe that most adults can still learn from this...it is that thorough. (Teens may feel it is beneath them, though.) This is a video series that I would love to have with our personal collection (not just the first two episodes)!
This trailer gives you a great idea of what the videos are like.
Something to note: There are some references to secular things such as books, movies, and television. These are in passing and not dwelt upon. Personally, I do not have a problem with it, but wanted to make sure others knew about it. Interested? You can buy it, or you can win it right here!
I have two certificates (videos 1 and 2) for one reader (if you live outside the US, you can mail the certificates to www.tyndale.com to be redeemed). Even if you don't have children of your own or any you would like to give these to, they would make a fabulous donation to a church library. If you are interested in winning the certificates, please leave a comment making sure I have a way to contact you. Leave another separate comment if you are a follower as a bonus entry! Giveaway ends Tuesday, April 6 at 7 pm (EST).
Thank you Tyndale.com for providing me a review copy.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Homemade Resurrection Eggs

Now that our daughter is 3 1/2, it is important for us to focus on the real meaning of Easter.  Though she doesn't completely understand the how and why of Jesus' death and resurrection, we want M to understand that Easter is not just eggs, bunnies, and baskets.


For our resurrection eggs, I used an empty egg carton, plastic eggs, and some small items to tell what actually happened to Jesus.  The following items are in the eggs.  I chose not to put the verse inside the egg, though I have them listed on a piece of paper.  I numbered each of the eggs to help tell the story in order.  (Click on verses to read the Scripture verses.)

Please read about all the verses and items I placed in our homemade Resurrection Eggs over at This Simple Home.  I have even created a Resurrection Eggs printable for you!!

We have been using these for years, and I am amazed at how my children can use these to tell the story of Jesus' death and resurrection!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Winner!

Karen K is the winner of Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs.  I'm sure she won't be disappointed!

Easter Activities and Basket Fillers

We are doing some different things this year, but I thought I would share with you from Easter past (last year actually).

For the baskets I made a teddy bear for E (then a baby) and a button book for M.
If you make a button book, and your child is like M, I would suggest matching button colors to shape colors.
We got a play hat at the Dollar Tree.  
We matched some paper number eggs.
M helped to make a little chick. (Two fuzzy balls, felt or paper beak, and googley eyes.)
And we made a button egg.
This year we will update the button egg to the three year old version by adding ribbon stripes.

Sadly, I noticed that not one of those things is about Jesus' death and resurrection.  I guess I should be honest and tell you that we didn't emphasize the reason for Easter last year (nor did we focus on the Easter bunny). 

 This year is very different now that M is nearly 3 1/2.  We are reading the Easter story in a couple different Bibles.  M loves the resurrection eggs I made.  I need to post about it soon.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Let Others Reply to Comments

For those of you who blog using Blogger, I thought I'd share how to make it possible for other bloggers to reply to your comments.  You just need to go to your dashboard, click "edit profile."  Then click "show e-mail address."  Don't forget to save it!

It makes communication so much easier!  Hope this helps!

Noah's Ark Bath Toy


At this time of the year our family is thinking about Easter and the resurrection of Jesus, but I wanted to show you our simple Noah's ark bath sponge.  M's Sunday school teacher made one for her months ago, but it was time to replace it.  These are the arks I made for my children.  Notice the matching colors so we don't need to worry about which belongs to M or E.

I just took a new kitchen sponge and rounded the two corners.  And Ta-Da!  Noah's ark!  (If you are interested, you can see some preschool activities of Noah's ark.)

Also, I wanted to let you know I made my own resurrection eggs to share the story of Jesus' death and resurrection with our three year old.  I will be posting soon!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Alphabet Practice

We used this puzzle just for fun before M was even 2 years old. Now that she knows the alphabet, we pop the letters out of the puzzle and put them in order. Notice she still flips some, but that is still developmentally normal. It is fun to say the sounds the letters make after they are in the lines. Of course we put the letters back in the puzzle for storage.
Last year when M was still learning to talk, we taught her to say "pop" each time a letter came out. She still does it out of habit if she doesn't say the letter name.
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Wall Hanging-Personalized

I made this set of three wall hangings for a friend who just had her third daughter.  (Well, in December.  It took me a while, huh?)  My goal was to have three distinct but coordinating hangings. I chose three scrapbook papers that coordinated well enough (hopefully), and used my Cricut to cut the letters in blue and the shadowed letters in a pink/purple.  It was the best I could do without knowing favorite colors or bedroom colors.

I began with wooden ovals (available at Wal Mart, Michaels, Joanne) traced onto the paper.  I painted the edges to match the main color of the paper, and then dry brushed additional acrylic paint in similar shade.

Next I Mod Podged the paper on to the wood.  (Someone recently recommended using a glue stick first, and just Mod Podge the top layer.  Any thoughts on this?)  Then I put a few more layers on top.  After it was dry, I added the lettering.  Toothpicks helped to move them around.


Once I went over the letters a few times with Mod Podge and it dried, I hot glued a ribbon loop to the back (for hanging) and followed that with felt (cut to the oval shape).  The purpose of the felt is to protect the wall.

My friend said her girls loved them.  I know I love all things personalized for children.

I may make one of these for my son's room for his Easter basket.  He officially has nothing on his walls (not even colored paint).  Unfortunately, almost all of my scrapbook paper is pretty feminine, but I will make something work.  I hope.

If you have been reading for a while (or you explore the sidebar's favorite posts), you might recognize this as a variation of the personalized barrette holder.



Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Free E-books for Children

I just wanted to share a few sites for some free children's books that you can read with your child on the computer.   And yes, when we are talking about preschool age, I still think a parent should be involved with reading books on the computer, even the audio books.  I do prefer print books, especially for children, but think e-books can serve a good purpose in educating children, too.

Children's Books Forever-available in PDF form or use them with Power Point, overhead projector, or print.  These are also available in other languages!  A lot of "classics" are available.
Concordia Publishing House-Christian audio children's books!  We listened to two of them, and both of my children really liked them.  My own opinion is that one of the readers had a much better "reading voice" than the other.  This site is also really great for beginning readers because it highlights the words as they are spoken!
Dr. Seuss books for download, though only available through March 31, 2010.  Please note that I have not personally tried this source.
Wizz-e has two animated e-books available for free, with audio and highlighted words.  This is another resource I cannot recommend based on experience, but still wanted to share it with you.

Please let me know what sites you use for ebooks, if any, and if you explore any of these!  Enjoy

Monday, March 22, 2010

Here Burns My Candle Review and Giveaway

Do you know Liz Curtis Higgs?  I may not know her personally (though I have met her), but I really appreciate this Christian woman's books.  I had the opportunity to hear her speak last year.  She was incredible.  Funny.  Inspiring.  Lovely.  Real.  Godly.  She is, by far, my favorite speaker (and I have heard several).  I intend to hear her again in November in Hershey, PA.  (Anyone interested in joining me?)


I jumped at the opportunity to review Liz's newest book, Here Burns My Candle.  View the trailer here.
     
Summary:
A mother who cannot face her future.
A daughter who cannot escape her past.
 
Lady Elisabeth Kerr is a keeper of secrets. A Highlander by birth and a Lowlander by marriage, she honors the auld ways, even as doubts and fears stir deep within her.
    Her husband, Lord Donald, has secrets of his own, well hidden from the household, yet whispered among the town gossips.
    His mother, the dowager Lady Marjory, hides gold beneath her floor and guilt inside her heart. Though her two abiding passions are maintaining her place in society and coddling her grown sons, Marjory’s many regrets, buried in Greyfriars Churchyard, continue to plague her.
    One by one the Kerr family secrets begin to surface, even as bonny Prince Charlie and his rebel army ride into Edinburgh in September 1745, intent on capturing the crown.
    A timeless story of love and betrayal, loss and redemption, flickering against the vivid backdrop of eighteenth-century Scotland, 
Here Burns My Candle illumines the dark side of human nature, even as hope, the brightest of tapers, lights the way home.



LIZ CURTIS HIGGS is the author of twenty-seven books with three million copies in print, including: her best-selling historical novels, Thorn in My HeartFair Is the Rose, Christy Award-winner Whence Came a Prince, and Grace in Thine Eyes, a Christy Award finalist; My Heart’s in the Lowlands: Ten Days in Bonny Scotland, an armchair travel guide to Galloway; and her contemporary novels, Mixed Signals, a Rita Award finalist, and Bookends, a Christy Award finalist. Visit the author’s extensive website at www.lizcurtishiggs.com.







My Review:
Set in Scotland, this book is rich in historic detail.  The characters are so real.  The main character, Elisabeth, lives with her husband, his mother, his brother, and sister-in-law.  As the story unfolds, we learn much about this family...the good and the bad.  It seems that they hide so much from one another, always with the walls up, not letting even the immediate family know what they are really like.  

When wartime comes, everything changes...including what is important in life.  This truly is a story of beauty...true beauty that comes with unconditional love and forgiveness.  

The inspiration for this book came from the biblical story of Ruth and Naomi, set it in a different place and time.  (Please note, that Liz did not try to tell the story of Ruth and Naomi, but it was the inspiration for this book.)

I will warn you that there is a lot of Scottish language in this book.  It truly took many chapters to understand what I was reading without thinking too much about the words.  Unfortunately, I did not find the Scottish Glossary in the back of the book until after I completed the last chapter!  Even without the glossary, this was a hugely enjoyable read.  I can't wait for the rest of the story to unfold in the sequel.  


Interested?  I hope you are!  You can purchase Here Burns My Candle here.


Even better?  You can win it right here!  I have one copy to give to a reader!   


To Enter:
Leave a comment below with a way to contact you!  
Extra Entries:  Leave a separate comment for each entry.
Tell me what other book of Liz's you have read or would like to read. 1 entry
Follow my blogs. 1 entry/comment each


Giveaway ends Friday, March 26th, at 7pm (EST).  Winner will be chosen by random.org and will have 48 hours to contact me.


This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Don't forget to enter our giveaway!  It's for a really good lotion that has helped my winter dry skin a lot.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Tough Goodbye Made Better

Am I the only one who takes great comfort in winter?  I do not mean cold weather or cloudy, dreary days, or long, long dark evenings.

I take great comfort in wearing layers of clothing...always two long sleeve layers.  (Sometimes a tank top, too.)  I'm always cold!  My feet like comfort, too.  

Last year (probably fall) I got my first pair of Crocs.  Comfort and warmth.  (They are lined.)  Initially I thought I would wear them around the house and down the driveway for the bus.  I was so wrong.  Despite the fact that these are not beautiful, I lived in them all winter.  I wore them everywhere.  When we traveled at Christmas they were the only shoes I took...so I wore them to church.  Want to hear what's worse?  One Sunday I was on my way out the door to church, and I looked down and saw that I was wearing my ugly, brown, oh-so-comfortable-Crocs, and I did NOT change my shoes!  (In my defense I was with the toddlers that day and not worshiping with the adults.)  I have shoveled snow multiple times in these clogs and my toes have stayed toasty and dry the whole time!  They make the daily trip out to the bus stop...in bare feet.  (One day I forgot to take off my slippers.  My feet were quite chilly that day, though they were covered about the same.  Somehow these Crocs are that much warmer.)
I am all about comfort.  (Not style.  Can you tell?)  And as much as I look forward to spring I don't look forward to saying goodbye to my Crocs.
Until NOW!

These are my new little Crocs.  Perfectly acceptable to wear in warm weather.   Probably not acceptable to wear with my little white athletic socks though.

When Derek saw them he asked if I got them so I could wear them to church.  Hmm.  Definitely!  And just for the record, I wore them out today, and they are quite comfortable (though my feet do sweat more than I am used to).

Happy spring!  Welcome warm weather, green grass, and time outside!  What will you miss about winter?

These shoes were not provided by  Crocs company.  I just happen to like these shoes.  A LOT.

Friday, March 19, 2010

What My Children Are Reading

Come Fly with Maisy- This is our only Maisy book.  M LOVES them all, and she even knows where to find (and read the spines?) the Lucy Cousin's books at the library.  This is a book that M "reads" all by herself!

How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head- By Bill Peet.  This is a book that M asks for over and over again at bedtime.  It is a great children's book, but would be lengthy for children under 3.


Lucy and Seymour's Circus- I just reviewed this book last week, but since then M wants to read it at nap time and bed time.  She sleeps with it under her pillow.  She LOVES this book!  Written and illustrated by Sally O. Lee...great book about turning a disappointment into some fun.  

Little Monster's Neighborhood-Another book that has been requested A LOT this week.  Written by Mercer Mayer, it's just a classic Little Monster book all about his neighborhood.  Too bad our neighborhood is just the development...and not our town.  Oh well.


This week all of these books are from our own collection and not the library.  


We'll be linking up again at Mouse Grows, Mouse  Learns!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Laundry

Yesterday I asked readers to guess how long it took me to go through 250 dryer sheets.  I opened the box on August 1st, so Jenny was right.  The box was empty 7 1/2 months later.

But that is not the end of the story.  Last night I was telling Derek about it, and how I wrote the date on the box so I could average how many loads of laundry I do a week.  He asked me, "Don't you use TWO dryer sheets?"

Apparently in the past when I was loading an unusually large load (or maybe blankets?) I suggested putting a second sheet in for good measure.  That was before I was careful to only use one per load.

I don't know how often Derek throws the wash into the dryer, but he's not afraid to do a bit of laundry to help me out (and get clothes washed in time for work on Monday morning).  I am guessing he helps with a load every two weeks or so.

At least I know that I have not been doing 8 loads of laundry for my family of four each week!  I am guessing 5-6 is more accurate.  (There were weeks when I am certain I did at least 7 due to two children's leaking diapers though...We have since switched to nighttime diapers.)

In case you are curious, I do plan to keep track again.  I'm curious.  How about you?  How many loads do you do a week?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Skin MD Giveaway

You might remember that I reviewed a unique lotion called Skin MD.  It acts as a shielding lotion and is great for people with eczema.   I'm excited to tell you that now a reader gets to experience this lotion for themselves with a giveaway!

Skin MD Natural is safe on all parts of the body and even on babies.  The lotion is light and not greasy.  It leaves skin fresh and clean. It is also available with an SPF 15 .  

You can purchase your own, and at this time you can get 20% off your purchase with the coupon code LLL.  You may want to get a free sample by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope.  Check their price listings page at the bottom!  

Win a four ounce bottle of Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion or Skin MD Natural + SPF 15!   
To Enter:
Leave a comment below including your email address telling me why you want to replace your current lotion (or if you just want to try something different).
Extra Entries: Leave a separate comment for every entry.
Follow my blogs: 1 entry/comment each
Visit Skin MD Natural and tell me a tip you learned (not described above) from anywhere on the site: 1 entry
Blog about this giveaway and link back to here: 3 entries/comments

This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada.  Giveaway will end Tuesday, March 23 at 7pm (EST).

This product was provided for me to use and review, but I was not otherwise compensated.



Guesses?

A while back I purchased a 250 count box of dryer sheets.  I wrote the date I opened it on the box, curious as to how many loads I average a week.  I used one per load of wash and all loads went into the dryer as far as I know.

Would anyone like to take a guess as to which month in the year 2009 I opened the box?  I opened it on the first of the month.

I will just tell you that I was quite surprised!  I will post an answer tomorrow...and pass out the high-fives then!
Just a reminder...we are a family of four.

Book Bloom

Bloom where you are planted.  You've heard that before, right?  Book Bloom is a cute website featuring books written and illustrated by Manjula Narayann.  It is a cute site, and you can even preview any of her books, even the soon-to-be released book The gray, Gray Cloud.

Thanks to Manjula, we have had the chance to read two books.  I find that these books are most distinctive in their artwork.  Manjula uses mixed media to create her illustrations.  It took a little while for me to get used to it, but my 3 year old enjoyed it immediately.  I appreciate that each page is unique, and that the books look so different than our other books with these bold and bright illustrations, along with good stories.  Sometimes the vocabulary is a little beyond our 3 year old (such as unconscious and per se), but that doesn't stop us from enjoying these books.
 The red, Red Car is a book about an angry red car that really wants to win the race.  The problem is his anger; it holds him back.  He finally realized his anger was stopping him from winning the race, and he is able to overcome his attitude and follow the rules...and win the race!  This is a good book to help children understand their own problem with anger.  We certainly have this problem in our home, but M is not quite old enough to appreciate this book yet for that quality.  She fully understands the word "angry" now, and uses it often and appropriately, thanks to this book.  We are thankful that she is able to put her feelings into words more and more.  One day soon this book will help her more, I think.
The green, Green Pear is another book with a good message.  The green pear doesn't want to be a pear anymore and would be happy being anything but a green, Green pear.  The green Green pear has the opportunity to become several different things, and eventually learns to love himself for all that he is...a green, Green pear.

Don't forget to check out Book Bloom and take a sneak peak at Manjula's books!

Thank you, Manjula Naraynan for providing these books for our review.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Must Try Cinnamon Rolls



(Sorry this post looks so goofy!)


Derek got me a breadmaker for my birthday one year when we were dating.  He knew my love of fresh bread!  Shortly after his mom gave me a breadmaker cookbook.  In it was a recipe for delicious cinnamon rolls.  We used that recipe for YEARS.  (Derek even made those cinnamon rolls when he proposed to me!)
However good (and easy) those cinnamon rolls were, these are so much better!  The recipe is from allrecipes.com.  They are called Clone of a Cinnabon, and they really are quite close, if you follow the directions closely!  These are a bit time consuming to make, but well-worth it.
You know how Cinnabon's rolls are sometimes gooey on the inside?  If these aren't completely cooked they are like that, too.
Clone of a Cinnabon
Dough:
1 cup warm milk 
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup margarine (or butter), melted 
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
Filling:  
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened
 Frosting:
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1.     Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start.
2.     After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
3.     Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup soft butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
4.     Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15+ minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt.
5.     Turn rolls upside-down before frosting them.  (I turn out on a cookie sheet and then return them into the baking pan by sliding them in.)  Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Magic Timer (Nap Time)

Though my daughter, M, may be three years old, she needs a lengthy daily nap.  Until recently she was sleeping for a solid 3-4 hours in the afternoon and needing every minute.


Recently we noticed that she doesn't seem to need quite as much sleep, which is fine (and normal).  We're putting her down for her nap a bit later.  Sometimes she still tells us she isn't tired (and she is).  Here is where my magic timer comes in handy.


M is already familiar with how timers are used in the kitchen.  However, they become MOM'S BEST FRIEND, and quite magical, for nap time!


When M tells me she wants to come downstairs or isn't tired, I explain to her that I will come and get her when the timer rings.  This also works if she wakes up two hours early (or never really went to sleep).  I was amazed at how quickly she understood this concept...and she does not complain one bit!  This has been effective right at the beginning of nap time (after the fight getting her to the bedroom) and mid-nap.


This also works when it is 6 a.m. and not time for me to be out of bed yet, but my little girl is wide awake.


Now I don't actually set a timer, but every day Derek or I go to her room to wake her up at 5 o'clock.  If she happens to wake up a few minutes before, we do get her up, but most days she sleeps until right about five.  Am I deceiving my daughter?  A bit.  She thinks I go down to the kitchen and turn on the timer.  But is there a timer?  Yes, but it is just a clock on the wall.  So it is a bit magical.  Derek and I are okay with that.


Just the other day, Derek reminded M that it wasn't time yet.  He was amazed at how she immediately put her head on her pillow (and not because she is the ever-obedient child, trust me).


How do you use timers with your children?  I'd love to hear!


Edited: Please be sure to read the comments below, especially Sharon's.  She speaks about children needing to obey the parent, not the timer.  I hadn't thought of it before, but by choosing your words carefully, they will be obeying you.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

What My Children Are Reading



Last week when we went to the library, I decided to go to the fairy tale area.  M, is starting to become familiar with the Disney version of Cinderella through our Little Golden Book, seeing the movie at a friend's house, and our Cinderella dress-up doll.  I want her to know other versions, too, so we explored what we could in our small library branch.

Cendrillion- by Robert D. San Souci is a Caribbean Cinderella tale.  We've read this several times now.  I appreciate that when the prince returns with her embroidered slipper, looking for her, Cendrillion wants the prince to like her for her, not because of any magic.

Rolling Along with Goldilocks and the Three Bears- written by physical therapist assistant Cindy Meyers was read every morning before school this week.  M, E, and I all enjoyed it a lot.  The twist on the traditional tale is that Baby Bear uses a wheel chair and goes to physical therapy.  I would highly recommend it for any young child who needs a wheel chair or just to show how we are all different.  It is a really cute book, but my favorite part is that Goldilocks and Baby Bear become good friends.  It also explains that Goldilocks was lost, tired, and hungry and that is why she went into the Bears' home.

Jazzy in the Jungle- Lucy Cousins is the author of the Maisy books...M's favorite!  This last time we were at the library, M found the Maisy books (by reading the spine) and told me they were Maisy.  I was impressed!  She picked out this book.  Though not part of the Maisy series, it is still delightfully Cousins.  It has die-cut pages and lift-the-flaps.  Mama JoJo, a lemur, is playing hide and seek with her baby.  It's quite cute, and held both M and E's attention.

Blue's Perfect Present- This book is new to our personal library, and quickly a favorite.  M loves Blue, so it is no surprise.  Blue seeks to give Magenta a perfect (and thoughtful) birthday gift.  It's a sweet book!

I'm linking this post at my friend's blog, Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns.  (Her little Anna is M's age and a really smart cookie!  I love seeing what she is up to...and how her mom works to keep her challenged.)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Winner!

Comment #5, The Activity Mom, won the Rubbermaid drawer organizer.
Congratulations!

Look for a new giveaway next week!

Freezer Organization Part 2

Last Friday night I had a burst of inspiration and cleaned out my fridge and freezer.  We've lived here for 1 1/2 years...and I had not properly cleaned the freezer or refrigerator in all that time.

I bought some plastic bins to attempt to contain and organize a bit better.  I used one bin for vegetables.  Beside it I put some of our frozen fruit (and a bowl of French onion soup).
The other is for prepared meats like my leftover chicken, meatballs, and such, but not large meats like whole chickens or roasts.
The best freezer surprise: leftover cinnamon rolls from Christmas day.  They were a sweet reward after all was clean!  (And I just realized that I never shared that recipe with readers...I will need to do that!)

The weirdest surprise: I found a feather from about 9 months ago when we were helping Meghan learn how to blow properly.  Weird.

The worst surprise: Apparently organizing the freezer didn't really create any more room in the freezer.  I actually struggled to find a "proper" home for some stuff.

I have used the bins for a week now, and think they are working out pretty well for me.  My freezer is well-used.  I know not everyone is like us, but I just wanted to share what is working for us.

You can read Freezer Organization Part 1 from last summer and how I have changed my way to freeze chicken breasts and pork chops.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Potholder Islands


We were looking for a way to pass the time when M started pretending she was the baby blowfish from the Wonder Pets that needed to be saved.  AGAIN.  Somehow that inspired me to make islands on the floor for us to jump on as we tried to stay out of the "water."

Initially I went to grab the construction paper, but quickly realized that would not be a good idea if I wanted to reuse it with E, our one year old "playing" along.  Next I gathered up my potholders.  I'm not sure if I have more than the average person, but we have a lot.  

It took M quite a while to understand she should stay off the carpet.  She loved rearranging the potholders for me to jump on.  We had a goal to go from the loveseat to a music box (and of course play some music).

When M's interest waned, I had her match up the potholders.  She did as well as anyone could.  I have many single potholders...due to scorching and other unfortunate events.  (I don't want to use the word fire.  Fire extinguishers were never used, but for several years I probably averaged losing one potholder each year.  I am happy to say that I have not lost any since we got our ceramic-top stove 1 1/2 years ago.)   I was impressed that I didn't need to explain that she should match the patterns/colors and not the shape since some are oven mitts and others are the flat type. 


Anyway, this was just a little impromptu fun that we had...and I thought to take a picture, so I'm sharing it with you today.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Why My Husband Hates When I Clean

Really, I drive my husband crazy when I clean.  It's a new thing, really.  And it's not like I need a perfectly clean house.  (HA!)  It's far from clean.


In fact, our house is quite "comfortable."  You know, it's lived in.  We have toys throughout.  Our island always has a pile or two growing on it...and often a stray butter knife and some crumbs leftover from the previous meal (or more).  We are both the kind of people that can go to bed without picking up the clutter and toys.  Some might call that laziness.


So how is it that I am driving him crazy?  Vinegar.  I started mopping with a vinegar and water mix a year or so ago.  I only mop, at most, every two weeks, so that was tolerable for him.  I like that it is chemical free.  Vinegar is environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and incredibly frugal.  What's not to love?  Well, a little smell.  All cleaners have an odor though, right?  Apparently not all odors are created equal.


A couple months ago I decided I wanted to start using a vinegar as my all-purpose cleaner, especially in the kitchen.  Though I know good ol' soapy water cleans the counters and table just fine, sometimes I want a bit more kick to remove the syrup, medicine, or jelly.  (Oh, yes, E's anti-seizure medication is very sticky!)  I used to turn to whatever was under the kitchen sink, but then I read somewhere that using a 1:1 ratio of vinegar to water would be very effective in cleaning...and it's safe for kids.  It took me quite a while to get an empty spray bottle.  (Do NOT reuse a bottle that had chemicals in it for this.  Just recycle it!)


Well, a month or so ago I finally bought my empty spray bottle!  I promptly wrote on it that it was vinegar, since I didn't want it to mistakenly get sprayed, and filled it with 1 cup of water and 1 cup of white vinegar.  I went to town cleaning my countertops and our kitchen table.  I went on to clean E's high chair.  I spot cleaned under his high chair.  It felt great to clean!


Then Derek came home from work.  The smell really does disappear as it dries, but he really hates it!  He noticed it immediately.   I think he may have gagged a bit.  Sorry, Dear.  He told me he was surprised I could stand it since I tend to be sensitive to bad odors.  But I continue to clean with it, though I do try to do most of the spraying/cleaning several hours before he gets home from work.  He has asked that I light a candle, so I do if I'm still cleaning when he is in the house.


Our three year old has noticed the stink, too.  She tells me about it when I am cleaning...but she also puts her nose to the table to really inhale the full vinegar scent.


Vinegar has lots of uses.  One of these days M, E, and I are going to make a volcano erupt.  In the meantime, you can visit Vinegar Tips or the Vinegar Institute if you are interested.  Both sites have tons of ideas for cleaning with vinegar.


A friend suggested I use essential oils to change the smell of the vinegar and water solution I use.  I don't have any, so I have not done this.  Does anyone have any other tips for me?  I want to continue to use vinegar, but it really is not much fun to torture my husband.

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