Now blogging at THIS SIMPLE HOME.

Now blogging at THIS SIMPLE HOME.

At This Simple Home

  • Taco Soup Recipe - My mom has fibromyalgia. Last weekend she and my stepfather came to visit for the first time in a couple of years. During their visit, I wanted to provide ...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

ABC's and 123's

Tiger Tales recently sent me a box of books.  Immediately, I saw two books that I knew BOTH of my children AND I would love.  I was right!
A Is for Apple and 123 Count with Me are fabulous!  Both sturdy board books are interactive with "tracks" to trace the letters and numbers and flaps to lift.  (Arrows help to know the direction to go and the numbers help the child to know which order to go.)  Both books are geared for ages 2-5, and I think that is a great age for these books.

 In A is for Apple, each capital and lower case letter is shown, and the capital letter has a low-lying, different colored "track."  Each letter features a simple sentence, complete with illustrations such as, "Gg is for goat and gate."  Under the flap, is the second illustration and the end of the sentence.  My son (age 3) likes to trace the letters and say "Up, down, up, down."  Sometimes he says the letter, and sometimes he doesn't.  But he always names the pictures.  My daughter (age 5) traces the letters and reads the book aloud.  The other morning she saw A is for Apple and exclaimed, "That's my favorite!"  This is definitely a book I would consider giving as a gift and is a family favorite.
123 Count with Me uses the same techniques as A Is for Apple for the tracing of the letters with tracks and arrows.  Each page features a number, 1-20.  For the number eight, there are 7 trains showing and another hiding  under the flap.  Also visible on the page, it says "8 eight trains."  Under the flap, it says "Number eight is late."  I like the variety of objects featured in this book (socks, ducks, crayons, strawberries), but do wish that each page's illustrations were a bit more varied.  (For example, all 12 socks are purple and green striped.)  This is still a great tool for children to use to enjoy forming the numbers though!
Tiger Tales is known for their quality books, and these did not disappoint.  I love that they are alphabet and number books that are still engaging for for the young (age 2) and old (age 5).  Often similar books don't engage an older child that recognizes letters and numbers well.

Thank you, Tiger Tales, for providing us with these books for review purposes.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Keeping It Simple

We tend to have low-key birthdays around here.  As of now, the children haven't truly had a birthday party where they invite friends, though last year when we were visiting family in October (the month of both M and E's birthdays...and likely this baby's, too) so we had a big family party at a local park.

This year was especially low-key since no grandparents were with us to celebrate M's fifth birthday.  It was the four of us.  Being two days from my due date (kind of like when E was due on M's birthday...but that year we had company for her birthday) I needed to keep things simple.

For decorations, we made a balloon banner.  
 I simply took a threaded needle through the tips of the balloons.
(Not our first balloon banner, but I love the simplicity of this one!  Inspired from here.)
Above M's seat at the kitchen table, we also hung some balloons.  In the past, we've always tied helium balloons to the birthday child's seat...but I love how this looks.
 M was able to choose her own birthday dinner.  Funny, I don't think she has a clue that some people eat McDonald's when they are not traveling.  Had she, though, we would have done it.  Notice that it is meatless. Chocolate milk is our birthday drink of choice around here.  Posting the menu in the kitchen was a big hit.
 I made her cake.  It wasn't pretty (mine never are), but she loved it.  It had a heart with a "5" in the center.
Our gifts were also simple, but she loved them.  
I can't believe she is five years old!  E will have his own turn for a celebration very soon!  It will be much the same as M's, though we'll likely have at least some family around if the baby has been born.

My husband and I were very grateful that we were able to be home (and not at the hospital having baby #3) to celebrate the big occasion!  

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Baby's Arrival

It's a GIRL!

Esther arrived this morning! 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Christmas Card Giveaway x3 (Shutterfly)

I do enjoy Christmas cards.  I know some people just sign their names, but I really enjoy reading about what is new in the lives of our friends and family.  Some send newsletters; others write a brief message.  I prefer at least a bit of something handwritten besides our names to keep it personal and caring, especially for those I don't see often (and that is who gets cards from us).  For me, the process of choosing, creating, and writing each card is important.

Our family didn't begin sending out a Christmas photo (just a regular card before that) until our daughter was born. Though we had plenty of news to share that year, since she had a long hospitalization a couple weeks after her birth, it was probably the only year that I stuck the card in the envelope, and then stamped and addressed it.  No signature or message.  I wasn't in total survival mode, but a personal Christmas greeting was just not a priority that year.  On the other hand, that photo Christmas card was extremely cute, and showed that our baby girl was happy and looked healthy, and it continues to be one of our all time favorites.

When M was about a year old, we sent out our Christmas card with a photo of M inside.  Simple and basic.  But the following year, we added E to the family and just moved into our new home.  I created the 4x6 photo collage to the right using Picasa's collage creator to add to a standard Christmas card.  (I shared about making these affordable Christmas collages.  The cost is just for the print!)

Last year was our first year using Shutterfly for the purpose of creating a folded photo Christmas card, shown to the left, though the image is blurry.  (I was able to do this as a promotion for them through this blog; I was willing to do it because I had used Shutterfly plenty of other times-happily.)  I couldn't believe how beautiful it was!  We had a great family photo for the front of the card, which helped.  Inside I was able to add more photos, as well as a summary about each of us.  I was amazed at how personal I could make it.  Since the card I chose did not include a Bible verse or reference to Jesus, I was able to do that, too.  We had never created a card so beautiful, and others noticed and told us.

I'm excited that Shutterfly has offered us the opportunity for more Christmas cards through them again this year.  Shutterfly is also offering THREE Live, Love, Learn readers a chance to win a promotional code for 25 free cards!


GIVEAWAY!
To win 25 free cards, visit Shutterfly.  Leave a comment below, and tell me what item from the Christmas cards or Christmas photo cards you like (no commitment though).  Please include your email address in the comment, please!


Extra Entries (Leave a separate comment for each appropriate entry.)
Follow or subscribe to Live, Learn, Love.
Be a fan of Live, Learn, Love on Facebook (see sidebar).
Share about this giveaway (Facebook, blog....)


Winner will be chosen with random.org.  Giveaway will run through October 31st, and winners will be emailed and announced on this post.  (If I'm busy in the hospital, I will contact the winners ASAP, though it may be a couple days.)

Winners have been chosen through random.org and emailed.  Congratulations Alana, Jess, and Ellie!!
Also, are you a blogger?  Want a chance at 25 free cards this holiday season?  Register here: http://goo.gl/DDw7Q

Monday, October 17, 2011

Get Wisdom!


Get Wisdom!
Get Wisdom!: 23 Lessons for Children about Living for Jesus is written by Ruth Younts for children from kindergarten to fourth grade.  It is a really good resource for children and their parents (or teachers in a Christian school) to teach basic principles of biblical wisdom and godly character.  

Each lesson is just two pages long for children and focuses on a different bit of wisdom that we would want our children to do.  It begins with listening and obeying, but includes character traits like humility and courage, as well.  A simple (but meaningful) definition is given along with a Bible verse and colored illustration on one page.  The other page gives a couple examples of the character trait and leaves plenty of space for the child to write additional examples, workbook-style.  It ends with a prayer and a personal application.  BUT that's not all!  In the back of the book, there are parent/teacher pages!  Each lesson has an opening activity, discussion suggestions, and role play game suggestions.  In addition to the Bible verse included in the child's pages, another verse (not just reference) is included, too.  Sounds easy, huh?  

Now, I have to admit that I only completed the first lesson with my daughter (nearly five).  I quickly decided that I wanted to hold off another year before using this book with her to reap the full benefits of Get Wisdom.  (Keep in mind though she is nearly five, she is still in preschool.)  However, I think it is a very good resource for parents.  Want to see more?  You can see the introduction and two complete lessons here.  Go! Look for yourself!  Then buy it!

I really appreciate Shepherd Press sending me a copy of Get Wisdom!  I'm not the only one who likes this book...at Bible study last week a woman gave a copy to a mom who greatly appreciated it.  (And just an FYI, Shepherd Press are publishers of great books like Shepherding a Child's Heart and "Don't Make Me Count to Three!"-linked to my review- are parenting books filled with great wisdom.) 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Betsy Was a Junior and Betsy and Joe

 I've written about Maud Hart Lovelace before, including the Betsy-Tacy series.  The series is based on MHL's life in Mankato, Minnesota and her growing up years.  Oh, I highly recommend it!  (If your library doesn't have the books, don't forget to request them; they are now re-released and quite affordable...two books/1 volume for about $10 on Amazon.)  This summer when our family went to camp, I took along the single book that includes the third and fourth books of lovable Betsy's high school years, Betsy Was a Junior and Betsy and Joe.  I couldn't put it down.  I just love reading about the town of Deep Valley along with Betsy and her friends in the early 1900's.  (Want to hear something really funny?  My friend who also attended camp brought along a MHL book, but she brought along Betsy's Wedding!  We had a bit of a laugh over this as we were relaxing and reading MHL outside our cabins at the same time.)

In Betsy Was a Junior, Betsy's sister goes away to college.  When she comes home, she tells of the sororities who are rushing her.  It's not long before Betsy gets the idea to begin a sorority of her friends.  She thinks that sisterhood can't have any downfalls.  As I was reading and loving the book, I was also very frustrated that Betsy didn't listen to her inner thoughts more.  (And I'm definitely not a sorority girl, which didn't help my opinion, though I could understand Betsy's reasons for appreciating the sisterhood.)  She really wanted to get to know a classmate better, but all of her time was spent with the sorority sisters.  In the end, Betsy and the girls learn their lesson, but not the easy way!

I had fully intended to put the book down when Betsy Was a Junior was completed, but these books are so refreshing and fun, I just had to continue the story.

Betsy and Joe surprised me.  As a MHL fan, I of course know (SPOILER if you don't know) that Betsy and Joe marry.  I was expecting Betsy's senior year of high school in Betsy and Joe to be filled with their romance.  Well, I was wrong!  Betsy "dates" both Tony and Joe.  I love that though Betsy was interested in boys, she was not interested in kissing.  Oh what lessons we can learn from Betsy!
"She thought it was silly to be letting first this boy and
 then that one kiss you, when it didn't mean a thing."
So though she spent a lot of time with Joe and Tony, it wasn't what many call dating today.  It was refreshing...even if it was with two fellows.  Seriously.  (Though her dating two guys was frustrating...) 

Oh, I would love to have The Betsy-Tacy Companion.  Even used (on Amazon) it is $45!  It would help me to know that really, "Betsy" didn't even meet "Joe" until well after high school in real life.  So all of my frustrations didn't have to be due to these books being based on real life.

Now if you have never read Maud Hart Lovelace before, please do!!  (As much as I enjoyed these, Emily of Deep Valley, linked to review, is still my favorite.)  These books are fabulous.  In a few days my daughter will turn 5 and she will get the very first book in the series, Betsy-Tacy.  I can't wait to share it with her!  And the books will grow up with her with more developed plot, character, and even language as the characters get older!

Now, I just need to figure out when my daughter will get to read the rest of the books...

I will be sharing these thoughts over at the Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge at Library Hospital!!

Read more of my thoughts on Deep Valley , then go out and get yourself a copy!
 Emily of Deep Valley ~ My all time favorite!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fall Tree Craft

This idea has been showing up all over!  I first saw it here, though.   I love when an idea can be guided a bit for a young child, and yet it still allows their own creativity.  We made our own autumn tree-despite the green leaves hanging on around here.

This was also an easy project to complete with two children (nearly 3 and nearly 5) at the same time.  Sometimes I don't pick the best projects for two children.


First, I traced each of the children's hands with a brown crayon.  Then the children colored their "tree trunk."  I chose to use crayon for the less-messy factor for my son's sake my own sanity.  However, if I were to do this again, I think markers or paint would be better.  You could even paint the child's palm and arm and "print" it to make the tree.
 After coloring was complete, the children were given one color at a time.  We used the colors yellow, red, and green.  My children no longer need to be encouraged to say words, but I still modeled for my son "Dot, dot, dot" with each fingerprint to the paper.  He said dot with each fingerprint, too!  This may be especially helpful for young children when they may want to use their fingers to smear the paint instead of making dots.  However, it IS their project!
 The paint palette (for less than $1 at Walmart) was perfect for this.  I also gave each child a napkin to clean their fingers in between colors.  My daughter quickly remembered that she could mix red and yellow to create orange.  Her colors/dots were spaced enough that it didn't happen "naturally."
 You can see below my daughter chose to add grass to her picture.  My son's picture may be after a windstorm, but it's still HIS fall tree project!
Mounting these on colored construction paper prior to display adds a very nice touch and makes the children feel extra-proud.

Our big fall book that we've enjoyed from the library recently is Poppleton in the Fall.  We just love Poppleton!

Next, I think we'll be making a fall wreath since M asked to replace our summer wreath craft (that I never posted about).  We'll use our coffee filter technique, I think...they love that!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"Don't Make Me Count to Three!" Giveaway

If you have been in Christian parenting circles, you have probably heard about Tedd Tripp's books Shepherding a Child's Heart  and Instructing a Child's Heart.  I highly recommend both books (and reviewed IaCH here.) because they really help a parent to understand the need for biblical discipline to be focused on the heart NOT the outward behavior.

Tedd Tripp's books were really good...they definitely made me think.  BUT for this momma, neither book really gave me the examples I needed to really be able to implement heart-oriented discipline for my young children.   In their defense, that was not the purpose of either book.  Ginger Plowman answered that concern in "Don't Make Me Count to Three!": A Mom's Look at Heart-Oriented Discipline.

If you find that you count misbehavior and are put off by the title of this book, "Don't Make Me Count to Three!", let me encourage you to still read it.  The idea is that the statement "Don't make me count to three!" and many other similar statements have the parent avoiding discipline, she doesn't say that that counting behavior is wrong.  But threats...not effective. 

Don't Make Me Count to Three!Honestly, I thought this book was exactly what I needed!  Ginger Plowman's book reads very quickly, yet filled with what I needed to read to better understand disciplining in better way that would honor God.
" It is my calling, my priority, my struggle, and my goal.  
I will rise to the occasion and accept the task at hand.
  I will love, nurture, and train my children the way that 
God has called me to do." ~ page 21

Plowman really helped me, through examples and discussion, to better understand (oh, not perfectly!) how to get to the cause of the behavior.  You know, the heart of the matter.

One thing that I have been able to somewhat easily implement (though, oh, I need some more work in this) is to have my children (especially my daughter who is nearly 5, though a bit harder with nearly 3 son) go back and do the correct thing...you know, show love, obey, use a different tone...I help them with the words if they don't know it.  Then they do it.  You know...like role play or practice so that the next time they might make a better choice.

Throughout the book examples of dialogue...and even mistakes parents can make...are shared in a way that parents can utilize.  

Despite the controversy of spanking, I appreciated Plowman's distinction between childish behavior and foolish behavior.  She explains that childish behavior becomes foolishness when a child understands the clear instructions that have been given, and yet still chooses to disobey.  In her opinion, and I personally agree, direct disobedience and defiant attitudes need to be disciplined.  And she would say that the "rod" (spanking) is the means of this discipline.  She then gives many thought-out guidelines for biblical chastisement.  Oh, this is hard!    I've heard some of them before, but seeing them all together was very good for me.   

My overall thoughts on "Don't Make Me Count to Three!" are very positive.  I highly recommend it, and quite honestly, I think it is a book I need to revisit at least once a year for the next many years.  Ginger Plowman suggests that we are not to control our children's behavior, but to understand their hearts.  As we discipline them, their hearts can change...and eventually there will be outward changes in their behavior, too.

Tough stuff, huh?  Well, parenting is not for wimps.  (And I mean all of it, not just discipline...it truly is tough stuff...I began saying that after our first life-threatening situation with our children.)

GIVEAWAY (Be sure to check out all of our giveaways this week!!  There are more!)
Shepherd Press provided "Don't Make Me Count to Three!" AND they want to provide one Live, Learn, Love reader (who resides in the US) with a copy, too!  


  • To enter, just leave a comment below!  Be sure that I have a way to contact you through email.
  • Giveaway will run through Tuesday, October 11th.
Extra Entries~ Leave a separate comment for each!


  • Follow LLL through Facebook or Google Friends Connect.
  • Share about this (or any of this week's) giveaways through Facebook, Twitter...
  • Visit Shepherd Press and tell me another book you'd love to have for yourself.
Winner is #12, Mozi Esme!  Congratulations!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Thank You Giveaway

With the baby's arrival in the near future, I have been on the lookout for appropriate thank you cards.  I have a "thing" for stationary and love variety of note cards and thank you cards at Peter Pauper Press.

This baby will be our third child, so gifts will not come by the landslide like they did for our first-born.  However, there may be some.  With a new baby, our church family provides a few meals.  Not only that, but already four of my friends have come together to help me clean and organize (no easy task!!) to prepare for this blessing.  We will also have babysitters to thank.  There will be plenty of gratefulness, and I like to write a thank you card to show it.

I chose some fun thank you notes called Alphabet Soup provided for review.  They've just arrived, and I love them!.  They are gender-neutral AND can be used for any occasion, not just for children!   (Both were my goals!)  Yet, I think they are child and baby-friendly with the bold colors and letters.  Perfect!

These note cards are so cute!  The words thank you are bold and colorful...and all of the letters, both gray and colored, are glossy and embossed.  Oh, and check out the matching envelope!

Does Alphabet Soup meet your taste, too?  If so, you'll be happy to know that Peter Pauper Press would like to give one LLL reader their own set of Alphabet Soup thank you cards!  The set comes with fourteen 3 1/2 x 5 cards and fifteen envelopes.   If interested, and you live in the US or Canada, please leave a comment below.  Make sure I have a way to email you if you win through your profile or just include it in the comment.  Giveaway will run through Friday, October 7th. 


Additional Entries
Follow Live, Learn, Love through GFC and/or Facebook.  (See sidebar.)
Visit Peter Pauper Press and tell me your favorite item there.
Share about this giveaway (Facebook, tweet...)
Leave a separate comment for each...four extra entries available!
Congratulations, Zenaida!  You won the cards and have been emailed.


Thank you, Peter Pauper Press for providing these note cards for review!  I can't wait to use them!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Giveaway (4 Books) and Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge

Read to the end for the giveaway info!

I'm excited to participate in the Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge again this year!  I just love her books.  MHL is well-known (at least in some circles) for her fictionalized autobiographies called the Betsy-Tacy series.  The books take place in the early 1900's and chronicle Betsy from age 5 through the first year of her marriage.  DELIGHTFUL!

Check out my thoughts/reviews on the Maud Hart Lovelace books I have read so far.

 Emily of Deep Valley ~ My all time favorite of MHL!!


This month I will be posting about my thoughts on the books Betsy Was a Junior, Betsy and Joe, Besty and the Great World, and the final book in the Betsy-Tacy series Betsy's Wedding.  (I actually completed Betsy's Wedding earlier today.  I just couldn't wait...these books are SO good!)  


I intend to take Betsy and Tacy Go over the Big Hill to the hospital this month when the youngest family member arrives.  I won't promise a post about it though...Who knows what I will have time to do after the baby's arrival.  AND the baby could arrive tomorrow...but hopefully we won't be waiting until November for the arrival.  In case you are new here, I'm due on the 20th.  Both of my other children were a full week late though, and I'm hoping to not be induced (though the baby may be a bit big according to a recent ultrasound and measurements).  I have hope though because this baby seems to have dropped.


Oh, and I happen to have a daughter celebrating her fifth birthday this month.  Guess what she'll get!?  She'll be getting Betsy-Tacy in her very own monogrammed tote bag that I already made!  I can't wait to read it with her!


GIVEAWAY!!!
I happen to have extra NEW copies of Betsy Was a Junior/Betsy and Joe AND Betsy and the Great World/Betsy's Wedding.  (Silly, I am  not willing to give my copies away, though I'm always happy to loan MHL.)  These are the new books that are two books in one (so four books total in two volumes), AND they have wonderful MHL biographical information, too.


To enter the giveaway, please be a follower of my blog with GFC.  Then leave a comment telling me why you want these books.  Trust me, you do want them!!  I'd also love to hear if you have ever read MHL before and which books you did read.  If you follow me on facebook, leave an extra comment for a bonus entry.   I will contact the winner by email, so be sure I can contact you.


Giveaway will go through Wednesday, October 5 so that I can get these mailed out in time for you to participate in the MHL challenge-if you so desire.
Giveaway is now closed.
Congratulations, Amy!  I will contact you for your mailing information!  Enjoy!

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