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, June 28, 2011


Today I have been married for eight years!  We've been greatly blessed in many ways, but mostly, God gave us just the right helpmate to get through-and enjoy-life.

I suspect it will be a quiet evening at home.  We'll have fettuccine Alfredo for dinner with cheesecake for dessert.  They are both dishes that Derek has always enjoyed, and I'm glad I finally have recipes for both.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Treasure Box

It seems that most young children are naturally collectors.  My daughter is no different.  

When we were reading an issue of a High Five (Highlights, but for younger children...we definitely like it), M was excited to see the craft idea of making a treasure box.
She really enjoyed the process.  M is four years old, and it was definitely a one-on-one project since she needed help alternating the craft sticks.  (Thankfully E was not overly interested.)
I definitely recommend creating a treasure box with your little collector!
We decorated with a simple "M" and a sticker jewel on the top.  A foam sticker cross decorates the interior of the lid.  

M was very proud, and she still loves her homemade treasure box.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Beans: Fine Motor and Counters

In December I made personalized bean bags for my children.  When I went grocery shopping, I did not really think through the beans that I purchased.  As it turned out, the Roman beans shown below were much too dense to use.  Since the bag was opened, and we do not eat beans (pathetic, I know), they became a play item for the children.
I have learned that if I just let the kids use their fingers to play with the beans, the beans are likely to become projectiles.  Recently when we played with beans, the children just used teaspoons to transfer them from their storage bowls to regular Corelle bowls.  (I know they enjoyed the sounds of the beans on the glass!)
This is considered fine-motor play, and it really is lots of fun!  

When I taught first grade, I bought kidney beans and turned them into colored counters for math.  I spread the beans outside on newspaper and sprayed just one side of them with spray paint.  The bean counters can be used to help complete addition and subtraction problems or to create sets.  Also, you can take a small handful and create math problems by using the colors of the counters.  (If two in your hand are white and three are blue, the problem is 2+3=5!)

I'm not sure what I was able to accomplish while they played,  but I think I washed all of the dishes.  They played with the beans for a long time, and requested more later.  It will be another fun activity when it is too-hot-for-Mom-outdoors.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Easy Cake Mix Cookies

I love homemade cookies.  Some days it's really nice to have them without any effort though.  Though it'd be nice to always have a stash in the freezer, the reality is that sometimes we just need something with immediate gratification.

No-bake cookies tend to be my go-to quick cookie, but if I want M to help me, she can't help with those because they are cooked on the stove-top.  So then I make the easy cake mix cookies that you have probably already tried or seen around, but I'm sharing anyway.  Just in case.

Cake Mix Cookies
1 box of cake mix (I prefer the chocolate type...and buy them when they are $1.)
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
chocolate and/or peanut butter chips 1-1 1/2 cups

Mix the cake mix, eggs, and oil together.  Fold in chips.  Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.  YUMMY!

Monday, June 20, 2011


Today is the last day for the Shepherding a Child's Heart or Instructing a Child's Heart GIVEAWAY!   I highly recommend these books!

After a weekend away to visit family and purchase a van for our growing family, my mother-in-law is keeping the children for an extra visit.  This will be our first time alone, at home, without the children.  (We have gone away overnight each year since M was born though for some time to ourselves.)

My husband is taking some time off from work.  No, we won't be having a romantic getaway.  We will be cleaning our basement!  From the time we moved in three years ago, our basement has been nothing but a catch-all.  We have gotten several shelves to organize, but all of these have been to organize Derek's tools and home maintenance-type stuff.  The rest of the stuff, mostly baby items, toys, and outgrown clothes are all around.  This will be quite the project.  I'm hoping to get rid of lots of stuff, too, and not just move it around.  We'll see.  

(Gee, imagine how much easier it could be if we would only find out the sex of our baby AND if we knew this would be our last child.) 

Now...hopefully while you read this we are being really productive!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day Booklet for Dad

Image from Musings of Me
I totally intended to share this before, but I forgot.  Tomorrow is Father's Day!  Musings of Me has a great printable for preschool through third (or so) graders!  You can make your own Father's Day booklet.

For my four year old, I printed out a handful of pages that I thought she would enjoy using for her dad.  An older child would likely do all of them though!  Since the blanks were somewhat small, and we had a lot to write, I filled in the blanks myself as my daughter dictated her thoughts to me.  She drew her own pictures and colored some, too.

Be sure to check out Musings of Me's other preschool printables and ideas in addition to the free Father's Day booklet!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Father's Day Cards: Hugs and Kisses

This year our Father's Day cards are very simple...simple enough for even a young toddler to do, but still interesting enough for my four year old to enjoy creating.  It was also a great way to introduce our four year old to the idea of X's and O's for hugs and kisses.

I cut X's and O's from scrapbook paper.  My large letters are 2 1/2" and the small letters are 1".   (I used my Cricut to do this.)  Honestly, if you want to use little X's and O's as well as large, you may just want to use stickers so your children can do more of this little project independently.

We just used a glue stick to adhere them to the paper.  I had to glue the little letters though.  My 2 year old glued the large letters, and my 4 year old glued the small letters.

Our four year old dictated the inside message, and she traced the words "Hugs and kisses," and signed her name. (I wrote her brother's name.)

This was a simple and easy way to make a card for Father's Day!  We made four cards because my children made a card for their dad, three grandfathers, and one great grandfather!  We get to see them all this weekend, too!   Yay!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Read Alouds: Berenstain Bears

On our most recent trip to the local library, there was quite the display of Berenstain Bear books (and videos).  My children were immediately filling our bag with the books.  Actually, E (age 2) found a book that he decided would be better to hold onto instead of placing in the bag (the Big Road Race, as seen below).  At one point I told M that if she wanted another BB book, she would need to trade it for one we already had in the bag so we could leave a selection for other children.

I really like Berenstain Bear books because Stan and Jan (and sometimes Mike) Berenstain know children and families so well!  My daughter, especially, seems to relate well with the problems the Bear cubs face.

The Berenstain Bears and the Big Road RaceThe Berenstain Bear and the Big Road Race tells of four big, fast cars in a race.  Brother is also in the race in a little red car that just says, "Putt, putt, putt" instead of roaring and growling like the other engines.  Despite being the slowest car, Little Red finishes the first place, of course.  Being that my son does not know colors yet, I liked how each car was a different color...and each driver had a different problem (like bragging or hunger) that allowed Little Red to persevere.

The Berenstain Bears Love Their Neighbors (Berenstain Bears/Living Lights)The Berenstain Bears Love Their Neighbors tells all about how nice of a community the bears have...except for the Bogg brothers.  However, when it comes down to the Bears needing help, it's the Bogg brothers who come to the rescue.  The Bear family quickly realizes their mistake, and invite them over to dinner.  This title is part of the Living Lights series (published by Zonderkidz) with a Christian message, though anyone can enjoy this book.

Bears in the Night is a perfect book for a beginning reader!  The story is extremely simple in language, but rather amusing to read!  Though it does not use complete sentences, I really enjoy this book.  The repetitive nature is effective and great for that beginning reader!  My daughter read this book with almost no help!

Bears in the Night (Bright & Early Books(R))Seven bear cubs are in one bed.  They hear a noise outside and decide to investigate...and sneak outside.
"Out of bed
To the window
At the window
Out the window
Down the tree
Over the wall..."
Personally, this may have been my favorite Berenstain book of the day, but that's probably because my daughter was able to read it to me.  Success is a wonderful thing, you know!  I just wish the bears looked like themselves instead of rats in the book.

The Berenstain Bears and the Missing Dinosaur Bone (Beginner Books(R))The Bear cubs even get into some serious mystery solving in The Berenstain Bears and the Missing Dinosaur Bone.  Three cubs and their dog, Snuff, are the Bear Detectives, helping find the missing dino bone before the Bear Museum opens for the special showing.  Like Bears in the Night, it is also a Beginner Book, but not nearly as simple in language and text.  Still a fun book though!

These were all enjoyable to read.  It was a little Berenstain Bear book party!  hehe!

I'm linking up over at Hope is the Word today!  Check it out for additional read alouds of various kinds!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Paper Plate Snake

My husband plays softball once a week.  Last week when he played it was really hot, and I was not about to take the children to the double-header.  Nor did I want to go outside to play in the backyard.

So we made paper plate snakes.  Both children colored paper plates.  I purposely chose crayons as the medium, because I knew it would take more time to cover the plate.  For my 4 year old's sake, I drew the lines for the snake on the plate before giving it to her so that she could see the different parts of the snake.  

Below shows M's colorful snake, fully coiled.  E is standing on his snake.
 She really enjoyed the snake!  
M's cutting skills are probably a bit behind other 4 1/2 year olds.  I did more than half of the cutting for her, but every time we cut, it helps!  I don't want to frustrate her with curved lines and stiff paper (plates), so I assist.

E also enjoyed this activity, but not as much as M.  However, she loved it when we did a similar preschool snake craft when she was almost 3.  Maybe we should have added dark eyes and a tongue for his benefit.  

It has been a while since I made a craft based on a book.  (I do have a list, though not recently updated, if you are interested of book activities for preschoolers.)  As the children were coloring (and I was cleaning up the ever-messy island) we discussed the story of God creating the world and Adam and Eve's sin and how the snake/serpent/Satan played a role.  We also talked about the book Fur and Feathers (linked to review) where in a girl's dream, she creates new coverings (fur, feathers, scales...) for some animals, including a snake.  Notice we didn't read the Bible story or Fur and Feathers...we know both stories pretty well, and I needed to multi-task.  Some days are like that.  

I still want to link up to a great resource called Story+Art=stART.  Check it out for additional ideas.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Instructing a Child's Heart, by Tedd Tripp (Giveaway)

In my Friday morning Bible study this year, we read Instructing a Child's Heart.  (A few years ago we read and studied Shepherding a Child's was also excellent.)

Both books are amazing, and the focus is on teaching our children truth, not just controlling and limiting unwanted behavior.  We are to direct them and teach them (and their hearts) God's ways.  It is solid, biblical teaching.

Shepherding a Child's HeartThese paragraphs from chapter 13 Instructing a Child's Heart are convicting for this mom, but it's important that I do not let conviction and guilt stop me from doing all I can do to be a godly mom.  I can still strive toward the goal of teaching my children God's ways so that they can make the choice to follow Him.  I feel that it is a terrific summary of the entire book.

Instructing a Child's Heart"We don't shepherd our children to assure that our children will 'turn out right.'  We shepherd our children to be faithful to the work God has given us.  Consequences do not serve as power plays to prove our role or power or strength or to put the kids in their place for our convenience.  They are designed by God to display the reality of God's ultimate rule in affairs of men and to extend mercy while there is time to repent and trust in God.
"Discipline is not an opportunity for us to show our children who is boss or hand out punishments that will change their behavior.  Even when our consequences are appropriate and underscore God's truth and our standards, discipline is primarily an opportunity to remind our children of their need to repent and believe in Christ, and forgiveness and provision available from God through Christ.  We are really declaring God's sovereignty and involvement with all he has created, offering relationship with God through Christ.  Show them the beauty and goodness of confession to God and others, and warn them of the coming judgment for unbelief." ~Chapter 13, IaCH

If that speaks to your heart, and you desire to be a godly parent, consider either of these books (or the DVD seminar series...great for a group study) by Tedd Tripp.  (In my opinion, IaCH has more application, but you may want to begin with SaCH.  I'm glad I did.  Both are invaluable resources for this mom.  I seriously need to read SaCH again now that my daughter is not a toddler.)  These books are invaluable resources, and I highly recommend them.  For those of you who like audio books, like me, they are available in audio, too!  Great for listening to as a couple!

Though both of these books were my own copies, but I am excited to tell you that Shepherding Press is offering a copy of either Shepherding a Child's Heart OR Instructing a Child's Heart for one Live, Learn, Love reader.  If you are not a parent, but know a mom or dad that desires to bring their child up in a godly way, do enter anyway and share this great resource!  

To Enter: Check out both Instructing a Child's Heart and Shepherding a Child's Heart and tell me which book you would prefer if you win.  Be sure that I have a way to contact you through your Blogger profile, or just leave an email address in your comment!  Giveaway is open for US residents.

Extra Entries:
~ Follow Live, Learn, Love (through email or GFC).
~ Like Live, Learn, Love on facebook.

Giveaway goes through June 20th.  Winner will be emailed and announced in this blog post.  
Winner of the book of her choice is comment #2, Michelle!  Congratulations!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Kids in the Kitchen: Fruit Salad

As part of my summer plans, I want to create food with my children that requires no stove-top cooking.  We already bake together fairly regularly (maybe 2-4 times a month), but this summer I will be purposeful in getting my kids in the kitchen.  I'll share each food item here at Live, Learn, Love, and I will also give it the label of Kids in the Kitchen.  (Christy, at Superhero and Princesses, is being much more purposeful in a similar endeavor called Cookbooks for Kids.  However she and her children are using children's cookbooks this summer.  How fun!)

Our first Kids in the Kitchen suggestion came from my friend, Sandy.  We made fruit salad!

Kids' Tasks: Cut bananas with butter knife (age 4) and remove grapes from bunches (age 2).  Pour fruit.  Stir.
Mom's Tasks: Cut fruit requiring a paring knife.

I actually had the idea to make a rainbow fruit salad, though I knew I didn't have any green fruit.  However, I didn't have peaches or oranges either (or any other orange fruit), so it wasn't very colorful.  We used apples (skin on), strawberries, pears, bananas, blueberries, red grapes, and a bit of lemon juice.

My friend had a great suggestion to make fruit salad with children very easy.  She said if everything is already canned, the children can just dump the fruit in a bowl!

If you use frozen fruit, be cautious.  My strawberries and blueberries were frozen.  I did not consider how the blueberries would bleed.  The strawberries were fine.

If you read this blog regularly, you might know how I don't like fruit.  It's a texture thing.  I still ate some (mostly apples) to show my appreciation for my children's efforts.  This was actually only my second time making fruit salad!

Taste: As normal, fruit-eating people can attest, freshly made fruit salad is great!  (This is the general population's opinion, and not necessarily my own, because, you know, it is still fruit.)   My kids loved this!  We will definitely be making it again.
Difficulty with children: This was super easy with the kids' help!

I'd still love to hear from you other easy "cooking" ideas to try!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin

Where the Mountain Meets the MoonWhere the Mountain Meets the Moon
brings Asian storytelling to life.  Minli is a girl who lives with her poor parents in the Village of the Fruitless Mountain.  Her parents both work hard, and Minli works beside them in the fields.  Her father, Ba, tells timeless stories.  Maybe some are true; maybe they are just works of fiction.  Her mother, Ma, is discontented with life and is rather miserable.  Minli learns from a talking goldfish how to find the Old Man of the Moon, the one who has all the answers in her father's stories.

Along the way, Minli befriends many, especially a dragon who cannot fly.  He helps her find her way to the Old Man of the Moon.  In the end, she has a very difficult decision to make when she has to choose between a friend and herself.

What I liked:
This is a delightfully told book.  Grace Lin weaves the story of Minli together beautifully to remind all of us that contentment never comes in the form of money or possessions, but in thankfulness.  I really enjoyed the Asian setting, and especially the stories that Ba, and others, tell throughout the main story.  It is a well-written book with depth and meaning.  There are also occasional illustrations that add to the story itself.
What I didn't like:
Well, being that the setting is in Asia, it should be no surprise that a feeling of gods (and a goddess) permeate the book.  Initially it was rather subtle, but as the reader gets to know the Old Man of the Moon, and all that Minli must do to ask him a question, it becomes more obvious.  It is a fabulous reminder that my God is always present, always listening, and always reachable, unlike the Old Man of the Moon.

Overall, the story of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is well-written, and really, a great story.  That is why it won a Newberry Honor.  Grace Lin explains in "Behind the Story" that some of the characters are based on myths, including the Old Man of the Moon is based on Yue-lao, the Chinese God of Marriage.  With that said, it does seem to be written as a know, talking creatures, dragons, and magical things happening.  As a Christian, I wouldn't be opposed to my children (many years from now) reading book geared for ages 9-12, because it is a good story and certainly would be a great springboard for discussions of many sorts, including comparing gods to God.
Thank you, Little, Brown, for providing this book for review purposes.  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Read Alouds

Big Chickens Fly the CoopLooking to make a preschooler or even a school-aged child laugh?  Try Big Chickens Fly the Coop!   (When I was first writing up this post, I learned that this is part of a series.  We borrowed Big Chickens from the library, but I definitely prefer Fly the Coop!)

Big Chickens Fly the Coop is funny, though especially hilarious to children.  Four big chickens sit in their coop wishing to see the farmhouse, but it's safe inside the farmhouse.  They repeatedly have the following conversation:
"We should always stay home."
"We could always stay home."
"We would always stay home....except...we've always wanted to see the farmhouse."  

Then the chickens fly the coop and find trouble because they mistaken a doghouse, a tractor, and a barn for the farmhouse.  (Don't laugh...or do!  Ha!  It's reasonable.  You know...the doghouse has a roof and door, just like a farmhouse!)

In addition to the English lesson with the should/could/woulds that are repeated throughout Big Chickens Fly the Coop, there is some rather colorful language that cracks kids up.

..."It's a doghouse!"
The chickens flounced, trounced, and body-bounced.  The dogs pounced.  Drooling muzzles dribbled.  Frightened yard birds quibbled.  Sharp teeth crashed.  Pointed beaks smashed.  Snouts snapped.  Wings flapped.  Until...
...four slobbery chickens ran all the way back to the coop.

Does that make you smile?  My kids love it, especially my two year old son.  He often requests Big Chickens Fly (the) Coop.  He also will fill in words of the story.  It is a definite favorite!

When I taught first and third grade, this would have been a hit when discussing the should/could/would family as well as descriptive writing...and even rhyming.  Now it's just fun to read aloud to my kids.  Even if we sometimes read it MANY times most weeks.

We've been reading a lot of I Can Read books, too, featuring the Rainforest Friends and Bible stories.  I wrote a post on those that you can check out if you wish.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Homemade Hamburger Helper

My kids both eat Hamburger Helper.  They don't tend to eat much for dinner most nights, and we don't eat Hamburger Helper too often...I do try to make more homemade meals than processed, packaged meals.

I was really excited when I found a way to make homemade Hamburger Helper.  Pictured above is the Cheeseburger Macaroni.  You can find all sorts of different versions of homemade Hamburger Helper at Chickens in the Road.  I was pleased with the way it tasted, and the kids ate it.  And it was made with real cheese and spices, not powdered "cheese".  Success!

If you want this to be really quick every time you make it, you can cook your ground beef in advance and freeze it in zippered freezer bags, one pound at a time.  Of course, the spices and pasta can be measured in advance, too.

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I Can Read Fiction and Nonfiction

There are certain books that our kids just can't read enough.  Often, these books are related to something they are strongly interested in, such as construction vehicles, farms, or princesses.  I love when other books catch their interest and become a favorite though!  Zonderkidz sent us some I Can Read books a while back.  I've been amazed at how quickly my four year old has been drawn into these stories and repeated asks for them (and takes them to her room for days at a time).
Troo's Big Climb (I Can Read! / Rainforest Friends)Troo's Secret Clubhouse (I Can Read! / Rainforest Friends)Troo Makes a Splash (I Can Read! / Rainforest Friends)
The Rainforest Friends is a new series that features some animals in the rainforest written by Cheryl Crouch and illustrated by Kevin Zimmer.  We really like the main character, Troo, and his friends in these high interest leve 2 readers.  Mistakes are made, and lessons learned.  The animals are likable, but have the same problems that many children do.  Both of my children love these books.  I like them because of their unique location (the rainforest) and animals (tree kangaroos, water rat, and cuscus), and basic lessons.  Though published by a Christian publisher, I do want to say that other than a Bible verse on the copyright   page (appropriate to the story's theme), the God-focus is minimal, though the themes are biblical.  The final page of each book explains what each character's animal is.  Not only that, each book features at least one plant, insect, or animal in the book (often through an illustration), and then on the last page it tells just a bit more about it in a sentence or two.
  • In Troo's Big Climb, Troo, a tree kangaroo learns the hard why obedience is so important.  His safety is in danger when he climbs the biggest tree in the forest.
  • Troo's Secret Clubhouse is the story of Troo learning that just because he is older than his sister, it doesn't mean that they cannot have fun together.  
  •  Selfishness is the theme of Troo's Big Splash when he is desperate to go swimming and doesn't think of the consequences to other creatures when he makes a dam.  
The Prodigal Son (I Can Read! / Bible Stories)Jesus Raises Lazarus (I Can Read! / Bible Stories)Joshua Crosses the Jordan (I Can Read! / Bible Stories)Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand (I Can Read! / Bible Stories)
Zonderkidz also has some Bible stories in the I Can Read series.  These are written for beginner readers (level 1), though they still remain to bring these Bible stories to life.  Written by Crystal Bowman and illustrated by Valerie Sokolova, these stories tell the different stories from the Bible.  I like the accuracy and drawings, despite that most (all?) of the people are represented as Caucasians (which I don't think is accurate).  We were sent four titles.  The Prodigal Son, Jesus Raises Lazarus, Joshua Crosses the Jordon, and Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand.  We like them all.  My daughter's hands-down favorite is Jesus Raises Lazarus.  I suspect that she is amazed at the miracle and relates to the sadness that Jesus feels when Lazarus is dead.  The language is simple, and the stories explained well.  

We appreciate all of these books that were sent to us for review from Zonderkidz.  I will definitely be looking for more titles in the I Can Read series!   

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