Now blogging at THIS SIMPLE HOME.

Now blogging at THIS SIMPLE HOME.

At This Simple Home

  • Homemade Magic Shell - I remember having Magic Shell once as a child. The chocolate syrup drizzled over my ice cream magically turned crispy hard. Mmm... So I was rather excited t...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Behavior Cards (Please Work!)

Like most 3 year olds (almost 4!), my daughter has some behavior issues.  Despite our efforts to be firm and consistent, M seems to need external motivation.  (I am thankful that other moms seem to empathize with the fighting and meanness, but she does seem worse than some others her age.)  Some days her behavior is just too much.  Too many awful days lead me to remember some behavior modification methods that I used in my teaching days.  (I will not be using this with our son who is almost two.  I don't think it is age appropriate for him yet.)  In this post I will share what I did for using behavior cards in our home, and what I did in my classroom.

First I made a simple "traffic light," to coordinate with the three colors of cards we use.  Then I cut three rectangles (and rounded the corners to make them nicer) from green, yellow, and red card stock.  The pocket that holds the colored cards is just an off centered fold on a rectangular piece of card stock that is wider than the cards.

I wrote a little note on the traffic light and added faces to coordinate with what the cards represented with her behavior.  On the green card that represents good (or super) behavior, I added a glittery butterfly and wrote the word "Super".  (Notice when the green card is in the pocket it looks like it says "Super M."  (hehe)  I also put decorative stickers on the card holder and added M's name.  The yellow card has the word, "Okay."  I left the red card blank since I didn't want write a  negative word.

The traffic light and cards are hung on our basement door, which is able to be seen from the kitchen, kitchen table, and living room.  I keep all three colors in the pocket for daily use (until misbehavior changes the card).  I "laminated" the pocket with packaging tape to keep it sturdy.  Before the first day was through using this system, I used our laminator on the cards knowing M enjoyed handling them.

If M gets any time-out she loses a card.  After she lost her first green card, I put it behind the red card.  After a bit, I noticed the green card had magically returned, so now we put any "lost" cards on the fridge.  At some point, I would like the consequence to just be losing a card (and not the time out, too), but I don't think we are quite ready for that yet.

In my classroom I used library book renewal card holders for the card holders and labeled them with my students' names.  (In a specials classroom my friend used numbers so she could use them with every class.  She also allowed students to earn the green card back, but I won't be doing that with M...I think it would confuse her.) I used colored index cards (green, yellow, pink) for the cards.  If a child earned a yellow card in my classroom, it was a warning.  If they earned a pink card, a note was sent home to the parents.

If M keeps a green card all day long, she earns a special treat at the end of the day-candy or a sticker.  If it is yellow, nothing happens.  If it is red, she loses evening television privileges.

How have we done?
Day 1-yellow
Day 2- yellow
Day 3- green
Day 4- red
Day 5- green

Here is M enjoying her first treat.  A lollipop is highly unusual in our home.  Really candy is in general.  Then she passed it to E, and they shared it.  I thought that was sweet (and highly unusual).

I don't know if it will continue to work, but we'll  be thankful for improvements that we have seen and hope for continued self control until the external motivators are not needed to help her.

This will be linked to ABC and 123's Show and Tell for this week!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Runners (Chicken Soup Giveaway)

The Chicken Soup for the Soul writers have teamed up with ultramarathoner, Dean Karnazes to share a new collection of inspiring stories for runners, and I have a copy for a reader!

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Runners: 101 Inspirational Stories of Energy, Endurance, and EndorphinsWe all tend to know someone who runs-for the self-satisfying feeling of knowing they are doing something wonderful for their health and bodies, and really all-around well-being.  This book may be for them!

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Runners, is subtitled "101 Inspirational Stories of Energy, Endurance, and Endorphins.  I really like that it's not a random collection of stories.  The chapters are appropriately categorized, too.

A list of the chapters:
Starting Out
Running Therapy
Everyday Adventures
Family Ties
A Step at a Time
Interesting Places
Moving on to Triathlons

Any Chicken Soup book is recommended for someone looking for some inspiration, and this is the one for Runners!  Authors are everyday joggers and even Olympians.  You can see upcoming titles at the CSFTS website!

I have a copy to give away to a reader!
To Enter:
Leave a comment below telling me if you are a runner!  Be sure I have a way to contact you through your blog profile or an email address.
Additional Entries:  Leave a separate comment for each entry.
Be a follower of Live, Learn, Love.~ 1 entry
Tell me what inspires you!~ 1 entry
Tell me what your favorite CSFTS book is.~ 1 entry

Giveaway ends Tuesday, September 7th, at 7pm (EST).  Sorry, but this giveaway is limited to the US and Canada.

This book was provided by the Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing for review purposes.

A Celebration...

My friend, Carrie, over at Reading to Know is hosting a big celebration this week with lots of giveaways.  She has a great book blog.  She is the one who has introduced me to The Mysterious Benedict Society and Tumtum and Nutmeg...and probably countless other books.  Go visit her for a chance to win something fun (not all books either!) throughout this week!

Tales from the Back Pew (Review)

Back when I taught first grade, one of the favorite series of books for the children was the Black Lagoon series, which included books like The Teacher from the Black Lagoon.  Written by Mike Thaler and illustrated by Jared Lee, these books were humorous and drew the children in to the books.  They were exceptionally popular with the boys, though girls enjoyed them, too.

Thaler and Lee have teamed up again!  They are now writing a new series called Tales from the Back Pew for Zonderkidz.

I had the chance to review Vacation Bible Snooze and In the Big Inning Bible Riddles from the Back Pew.  These books are geared for older children, ages 6-9 (which I think is appropriate) .  If you are familiar with the Black Lagoon series, these books have the same sound and look-interesting illustrations and funny stories which will even have adults snickering.

Vacation Bible Snooze (Tales from the Back Pew)Vacation Bible Snooze is about a kid who thinks going to school in the summer to learn about the Bible is not needed and will not be fun.  It ends with the child understanding that going to Vacation Bible School is where we can get to know our best friend (Jesus)...better, which really is the point.  With all the humor in the book, it's still obvious that there is a love of God by the authors.  The final page includes a verse.

In the Big Inning... Bible Riddles from the Back PewIn the Big Inning Bible Riddles from the Back Pew would be greatly loved by kids who know (or want to know) the Bible pretty well and a good joke.  Like most riddle books, some may need to be explained to a child (or grown-up).  Here are a few to tickle your funny bone and give you a taste of the jokes.
How do you know Adam and Eve were good at math?  Because God to them to multiply.
What did the flood prove?  That God reigns.
What kind of car did the disciples drive?  A Honda.  They were all in one Accord.
This book also ends with a verse...a very appropriate one for a riddle book.  (Judges 14:12).

Just as I like the Black Lagoon series, I like these Tales from the Back Pew, too!

Thank you, Zonderkidz for providing these books for review purposes. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Help Organizing Favorite Links

I love to bookmark interesting and fun ideas, projects, and gift ideas (in addition to tons of other stuff) when browsing the internet.  I just use my "Favorites" tab and add them to the appropriate category.

The thing is I have heard about some other ways to organize links, and I am wonder what others might recommend and why.  

Would you please leave me a comment or email (derekannette (at) gmail (dot) com me with suggestions?  Don't forget to tell me why you like your organizing site.

I'm not sure if it matters, but I tend to use Google Chrome for my internet use.


The Other Side

It's weird.  For years I struggled with sleepless nights in August because of my mind being so full with back-to-school ideas as a teacher.

Tonight I sat through the parent night at M's new school-as a parent.  It's funny how different the parent side of the classroom is.  I know I would be such a better teacher now that I've been on the parent side.

If you have been reading for any length of time, you might find it strange that I bring this up now since M went to preschool last year.  The difference is that her former classroom was provided through the school district.  There wasn't much interaction or communication.  I actually put her on the bus in the morning and didn't need to drive her to school.  The only supplies they asked for were occasional snack donations.

This year I feel like we're part of a real school.  I'm excited for what is to come.  At the moment there are only nine children in her classroom.    I love that!  Of course that may change, even before Wednesday of next week.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fun Finds

Last week our family was in Vermont for a lovely four generation family gathering.  Fifteen people (at the end of the week) stayed in the house.  It was lots of fun, but with a lot of illness recently (including on vacation), it is good to be home!

While there we found a great big thrift store.  I bought a bunch of books, though the prices were as high as $2.  We now have three Bill Peet books.  This one is Ella, and I really like it.  Of course, I grabbed Richard Scarry's Nicky Goes to the Doctor since we love Busy Town.  M has a slight obsession with the Statue of Liberty, and I encourage it!  I was happy to get a second book about her.  (If you have any suggestions on how to help us make her the SoL for Halloween, please tell me!)  We've been borrowing the picture books based on Little House on the Prairie from the library, and now we have Dance at Grandpa's.  The Winnie the Pooh book is in super condition, but from the 1960's.

Heidi and The Bobbsey Twins in the Country are going to be such special books for me to read.  Both books were new in the 1930's.  I don't think I've ever read a copy that old before.

The fun quilt that the books above are on welcomed us home from our trip.  This is a close-up of one many cool snakes that we have been petting and enjoying.  A friend sent it to our family, and I just love it.


Coming Soon

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

God's Gifts

Ruby Paints a Picture (I Can Read! / Ruby Raccoon)We all need to be reminded that we have many, many gifts from God.  The book Ruby Paints a Picture, tells the story of how Ruby, the raccoon, paints each of her friends since they are a gift from God.  It's a very sweet story and a good choice for beginning readers.

This book is great, but of course it is not needed to initiate a conversation with your child about how God has blessed them.   Like Ruby and my daughter, your child could paint pictures of God's blessings.  When asked what God's gifts for her are, my daughter wanted to paint each of our immediate family members and then our swing set.  (Below is her painting of her brother.)  EDITED TO ADD:  Please know that my daughter chose our family as her "gifts" because it was similar to the book.  I was thankful that she chose us, but also surprised!

Of course, you do not need to limit your child to painting God's gifts.  You could cut pictures from a magazine, use stickers, let your child take photographs, or use your own photographs to create a collage.  Older children may also really enjoy using fancy lettering and colorful paper to make a word collage.  A blessing walk around your home and community might be an alternative way to discuss God's gifts!  Whatever you do and however you do it, it's good to focus on what God has given to us!

This week I want to link this to A Mommy's Adventures for great stART (story + art) activities and ABC and 123's show and tell.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Word Fun

Our daughter, M, is almost 4years old.  She has always had a love for learning.  That has benefited her very well with the way she has had to overcome apraxia, a speech disorder.  She worked (and continues to) very hard with speech therapists and teachers to learn how to produce basic sounds.  Then she learned to put sounds together and eventually made words.

Now M's love of learning is spilling over into the written word.  She knows all of her letters and the sounds they make.  (I attribute this mostly to the Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD and highly recommend it for ages 2-4.  Of course that was combined with good old-fashioned learning at home and school, but the video is what helped her before age 3.)

M also loves to spell her name.  Now don't misunderstand me.  She no longer likes to write or trace her name.  But she will sing it, paint it, and BUILD IT!  This is a tower of the letters in her name.  She was playing with an alphabet puzzle (available at dollar stores), when she made her name and then was incredibly proud of the tower that went with it.

She made me a proud mom when she went on to spell "cat," and I quickly grabbed the camera.  Cat is a word she has learned how to spell.  It's more memorized than sounded out.
I asked her to spell "pig" for me, and I helped emphasize the sounds while she chose the letters.
Before long M proved that she is, indeed, just three years old (almost four).  She wanted to spell map, and insisted this was the correct spelling, despite knowing it begins with /m/.

I will be linking this up at the great site ABC and 123.  Go to see more great fun and learning ideas!

Monday, August 23, 2010

CSN Review~ Waffle Maker

I'm sure you have heard about the online shopping experience that CSN stores offer.  With over 200 stores to choose from, they are likely to have what you are looking for.

Recently I was offered the chance at reviewing a product from CSN stores.  This was quite a treat for me!  I spent hours and hours trying to decide what would be a good choice for our family.

After many hours of looking at cookware, toys, and home improvement items, I finally decided on a new waffle maker!  It's practical, yet something we will really enjoy.  We have waffles for dinner a couple times a month, and it's something we really enjoy.

Chef's Choice International WafflePro Taste /Texture Select Classic Belgian Waffle Design - 8300100We chose the Chef's Choice International WafflePro to make Belgian waffles in our home.  Like the better-known Amazon, CSN Stores shares reviews and often free shipping which is really important with on-line shopping, along with large selections.  CSN Stores offer competive prices.  When I shop on-line, I compare prices (including shipping), and will be checking in to CSN stores each time.

Our waffle maker arrived in just a couple of days.  I will say I was intially disappointed in the size of the waffle maker because the size specifications were not available to me.  However, it is the same size as other professional-grade waffle makers, I just didn't know it at the time.   We're looking forward to using this waffle maker for a long time.  My favorite feature is the speed!  It makes waffles incredibly fast, and it BEEPS when they are ready!  This is definitely the best of the three waffle irons we've had.  I also like that you can adjust the crispness to your liking.  The Chef's Choice International WafflePro made almost no mess since it is nonstick and takes one half cup of batter for each baking time.

My shopping experience with CSN stores was fun and efficient, and I look forward to doing it again in the future on my own dime.  LLL readers already had a chance at winning a gift certificate to do their own shopping at CSN Stores, and you can look forward to another chance in the future!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ladybug Snack

Maybe it's not quite perfect, but this is a ladybug snack we enjoyed a while ago.  I first saw the idea in the Family Fun magazine, and it delighted my daughter.  Somehow, she knew immediately what it was, even if us grown-ups need to use our imaginations.  I think we need to do this again and read The Grouchy Ladybug while we eat it!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

To Kill a Mockingbird Thoughts

That's right!  I managed to read To Kill a Mockingbird for Amy's challenge at Hope is the Word.  I have read this many times and look forward to reviewing Mockingbird Parables in the future and possibly share some thoughts on Scout, Atticus, and Boo, too.  Before I read those, I wanted a fresh reading of TKAM (even though I listened to the audio version earlier this year).  This is a lengthy post, but it was fun to write, and I hope to read.

To Kill a MockingbirdFirst, I have to say that I have no desire to truly review TKAM.  It's a classic,heartwarming, and definitely thought-provoking.  Through the eyes of a girl named Scout, we see how a town responds to racial injustices of an earlier time.

Scout's story of how she and her brother spend their summers and how their father, Atticus, responds to a town in Alabama in during the Depression...when a black man is accused of raping a white woman.  There are moments when it's so ugly that it's sad, but there are some wonderful insights with this book, too.  Though it always throws me for a loop to read the n-word and to read children using curse words, I still love this book.

I decided to share some quotes from TKAM.  Some capture parts of the book that I like, others say something that struck my fancy.

Scout is very much a tomboy.  From my very first reading, I admired it.  Apparently Jem did too, because he frequently said things like this.  (page 38)
"I swear, Scout, sometimes you act so much like a girl it's mortifyin'."

On misuse of the Bible. (page 45)
  "You are too young to understand it," she said, "but sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand of-oh, of your father."
  ...Miss Maudie laughed.  "Wasn't talking about your father," she said.  "What I meant was, if Atticus Finch drank until he was drunk he wouldn't be as hard as some men are at their best.  There are just some kind of men who-who're so busy worrying about the next world they've never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results."

Sibling love (and guilt). (page 56)
  "I'm going after 'em," he said.
  I sat upright.  "You can't.  I won't let you."
  He was struggling with his shirt.  "I've got to."
  "You do an' I'll wake up Atticus." 
  "You do and I'll kill you."
...He blew out his breath patiently.  "I-it's like this, Scout," he muttered.  "Atticus ain't ever whipped me since I can remember.  I wanta keep it that way."
  This was a thought.  It seemed that Atticus threatened us every other day.  "You mean he's never caught you at anything."
  "Maybe so, but-I just wanta keep it that way, Scout.  We shouldn'a done that tonight, Scout."

On  children's tough questions. (page 87)
"Jack!  When a child askes you something, answer him, for goodness' sake.  But don't make a production of it.  Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'em."

The title's first reference.  (page 90)
  "I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds.  Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

More sibling love (when Jem had to apologize to an elderly neighbor woman). (page 104)
  For the life of me, I could not understand how he could sit there in cold blood and read a newspaper when his only son stood an excellent chance of being murdered with a Confederate Army relic.  Of course Jem antagonized me sometimes until I could kill him, but when it came down to it he was all I had.  Atticus did not realize this, or if he did, he didn't care.

Atticus was a wise man and was able to reassure his children repeatedly with this phrase.  (Jem even uses this phrase to reassure Scout in another place in the book.)  (page 134)
  I felt his hand on the back of my head.  "Don't you worry about anything," he said.  "It's not time to worry."

Jem and Scout were discussing Old Family and background.  Jem thought there were four different types of people in Maycomb County.  Scout thought differently; this is what she said. (page 226)
  "No, everybody's gotta learn, nobody's born knowin'.  That Walter's as smart as he can be, he just gets held back sometimes because he has to stay out and help his daddy.  Nothin's wrong with him.  Naw, Jem, I think there's just one kind of folks.  Folks."

Scout on racial and religious prejudices. (page 2467)
  "She hates Hitler a lot..."
  "What's wrong with that?"
  "Well, she went on today about how bad it was him treatin the Jews like that.  Jem, it's not right to persecute anybody, is it?  I mean have mean thoughts about anybody, even, is it?"
  "Gracious no, Scout.  What's eatin' you?"
  "Well, coming out of the courthouse that night Miss Gates was-she was goin' down the steps in front of us, you musta seen her-she was talking with Miss Stephanie Crawford.  I heard her say it's time somebody taught them a lesson, then were gettin' way above themselves, an' the next thing they think they can do is marry us.  Jem, how can you hate Hitler so bad an' then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home-"

I don't know if these quotes will encourage someone to read To Kill a Mockingbird, but I hope that you're willing to if you never have!  If you aren't much of a reader, the movie (starring Gregory Peck) is excellent, too, and can be found in most libraries!

Do you have a favorite part of TKAM or a favorite quote?  I'd love to hear it!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

End of School and Coordinating Cards

My daughter just had her last day of preschool in her speech and language classroom.  This is a huge praise because it means that her speech has come so far.  She no longer needs such intensive services.  (You can read our big speech update here.) On September 1st she will begin school at a local regular school.  (Can I tell you how I fear that she will learn lots of bad things to say?)

M had a teacher, two aides, and an SLP at school.  I wanted to say thank you to each of them.  Should I tell you my plan for gifts so you can laugh at me?  My intention was to make them each a card, a wonder wallet, and a small gift card to go in each wallet.  I also wanted to make them my chocolate chip cookie pie to share.  (I chose to go with one pie to share since some people are hesitant to eat something from a child's home.  Not all, but some.)

The reality is that my husband was out of town last week, and my daughter was pretty sick (with an ear infection, strep throat, and cold).  We had two different doctor's appointments and a chest x-ray.  She missed three mornings of school, but thankfully did make it to school on her last day!  (Somehow my son stayed healthy.)

Based on my very limited time, I only made the teachers thank you cards and gave them gift cards.  So much for sewing and baking.  Speaking from my teaching career, the personal note is the most important part, anyway, and I made sure I completed that!

Recently I have figured out that card making takes a lot of time, but it's much more effective if I try to do more than one at a time or at least cut lots of things out at once.  I made four coordinating thank you cards.  The photo may not be great, but the cardstock background is cream with green and lavender details.  

Someday I am going to make cards in advance, but for now I just try to cut out extra shapes and even words from the Cricut.  I just love handmade cards, and try to make them for a lot of our card needs.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Congratulations!  We have two winners today.

The winner of The Children of God Storybook Bible is Kristi from Miller Moments.

Ticia, from Adventures in Mommydom chose the Hands-On Bible for her family!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Favorite Bibles

It's time to wrap up our Bible review week with our top picks!  This was tough!  I really enjoyed carefully examining our own Bibles and the review Bibles, too!

My favorite board Bible that we reviewed is Lift The Flap Bible.  All the board Bibles we reviewed were great, but this was still my favorite.  See board Bible reviews here.

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His NameClassic Bible Storybook
The storybook Bibles are a little harder to chose from.  I have two favorites!  I still really love the Jesus Storybook Bible and highly recommend it.  Though it's wordy, every story points to Jesus.  I do wish there were more stories included.  However, I love everything about The Classic Storybook Bible, too, and how detailed it is!  The language is very close to the actual Bible's, and yet it is still child-friendly. See all storybook Bible reviews here.

The New Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes Gift Edition
There are some options for children who are just starting to sit for a Bible story, but need more than a board book.  My favorite here is The New Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes.  Though the stories are fairly simple and short, they still give enough detail and ask good questions.  See all reviews here.

For older kids, I reviewed three Bibles.  May I say I probably don't have a favorite?  They each meet a different need...Why don't you tell me which one you want for the review and giveaway?

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