Saturday, January 29, 2011

Why do you homeschool?

You all know how much I love No Time for Flashcards. This week, the woman behind the site posed a question on facebook. She asked: "For my readers who are homeschoolers - what is your number one reason to homeschool?"

I was intrigued by this question, but more by the answers. Scott and I have been discussing homeschool our son when the time comes. I have joined a few forums in my area and I kind of lurk around to see what other homeschool parents are doing and the issues that they are having so that I know what to expect.

As I read the above questions, I asked myself "Why do I want to homeschool Matthew?" From my readings, one of the things that really resonated inside me, was that homeschooling Matthew would give us time. We would not need to be constantly beating the clock to get get up at a certain time, get on a bus at the right time, rushing to do homework before we raced the clock to get to afterschool activities, and planning our vacations around his school schedule. I honestly did not feel like this was a good reason to homeschool though...and maybe it's not, but it is a answer that a LOT of people seemed to give for wanting to homeschool.

One person even mentioned that her husband works Saturday and Sunday and has off on Tuesdays and Wednesday. She said that if they didn't homeschool, her children would not have much time with daddy. How sad!

My primary answer (in a nutshell): I used to be a classroom teacher. I have taught hundreds of kids in different capacities, why would I let someone else raise my kids for me? Why would I not use my knowledge to: 1. teach my son 2. help him excel at what he is good at 3. give him the attention that he needs when he's not good at something? It makes so much sense to me.

I am so glad that NTFFC posed that question, because it reminded me that I'm not alone on this journey. I hope that those of you that are also homeschooling families with share your stories in the comment below.


PS....My husband and I have also had a lot of discussions about how me not going back to the workforce will mean that we will not be "Keeping up with the Jones". That is hard when friends are able to buy nice houses, cars, and amazing new-on-the-market technology and we are just scraping by with help. How do you manage when others around you live a different lifestyle?

Hats off to an amazing SIL

My sister-in-law....I'm pretty sure she is Superwoman! I've known her for a little over 10 years. When I met her, she was about the age that I am now, married to her "Highschool Sweetheart" (actually more like Jr. High, but who ever says that), and living the one of the scariest parts of Pittsburgh so that they could work, make ends meet, and fulfill their dreams for the future.

Today, she is still married to the love of her life, lives in one of the most beautiful, yet practical homes I've ever seen, and has three of the most awesome kids EVER!

Jen and her husband own and operate their own Dental practice. Jen is one of the millions of working moms, but something about her is just amazing! Some working moms seem to (I know that they don't, but it seems like that sometimes) put so much time into their job that they have no time to do the housewife things or things that a stay at home mom would do. What do I mean by that? Let me try to clarify if I can....

While a SAHM might mix up a chicken noodle soup from scratch for dinner, WM might open a can of Campbell's.

Where WM might run late or miss their child's dance recital, SAHM has been there since late last night helping to make sure that the programs are in the right place and finishing up sewing or pinning up the last of the tutus onto the pink leotards.

I think you get my point. And I hope that you know that these comparisons are not true to everyone! I know that even SAHM will put soup on the table sometimes and be late for a dance recital. I also know that WM will cut into her sleeping time to stay awake to make some extra healthy for her children when she can. She will also take days off from work, because her little pumpkin said (with puppy dog eyes) "Mommy, Ms. Dance Instructor said that they need help with the recital. Can you do it, please?"

My point, SIL Jen is an amazing combination of the two! When I see what she's been up to, I think to myself..."Dear God in Heaven! She must NEVER sleep!"

Like I said, Jen has three awesome little girls. She is always excited for birthdays and is usually the first one to start chanting "Presents! Presents!" Every child has her own birthday party with her own birthday cake. Jen has created all of their cakes for every party and I want to show off some of her talent!

The amazing rainbow cake that you saw above is made up of a bunch of 14inch rounds.
This the the recent "rainbow birthday" for her youngest.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rocket Man!

Do you see this?

That is one happy kiddo!!!

All that I've been hearing about lately are Disney movies, trains, and rockets. If you take a look at the "Jan Plan", this week the theme was "Rockets". My son has been the "Rocket Man" all week! We've read about "Rockets" and I've spent some time pointing out astronauts, planets, and stars in the books that we've been reading.

I did not get around to making a rocket with Matthew on Monday. We did some other things and that just got moved back. On Tuesday, I had to work, but now my husband has off. I know that my husband enjoys doing artsy stuff and so I took a chance that he and Matthew might enjoy making a rocket together.

I left a bunch of stuff on the table and told my husband to just be creative! I asked him to let Matthew color a little bit on the rocket, but aside from that, anything goes! I have to say, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was very pleasantly surprised!

That night, around 6:30, I received a text video on my phone from my husband. He was taping Matthew with his rocket. I started to cry! I have sent a lot of videos to my husband at work of Matthew and I doing fun stuff, but I do not often receive them....nor do I ever have to miss out on an activity that my son is doing.

Scott told me that he's really looking forward to Tuesday night "Matthew and Daddy Time". I am too....even through the tears.

Safety first....bonus when it's free!

Remember this super cute picture?

Safety comes first with a toddler!

Back in November, Scott had to do the yearly changes to his health and other benefits. We took a lot of time on "Which plan would be most helpful to us if...." You can fill in the blank with just about every ailment under the sun! I'm a worrier! What can I say!

After reading through all of the health benefit options, we chose the same Highmark plan that we already had. It figures! I decided to look through and see if there were any benefits that I was not already taking advantage of. It turns out that there was something that we missed.

There is section about health, wellness, and safety. Highmark (at least with our plan) will reimburse you up to $25 per person for buying bike helmets for members of your family. I decided that this was certainly a benefit that I was going to take advantage of.

Of course, time flies and the mind forgets. I forgot all about buying the helmet for months. Then, the day of the skating party we decided that we'd rather be safe than sorry and bought it. Today, I am finally filling out the paperwork and getting my $20 back!

My suggestion to you? Number 1. Consider buying a helmet for your child. 2. Check your health insurance and if you can also be reimbursed for it, by all means, buy the helmet and either save it for when the Easter Bunny comes or (if you're child is just too little now) save it for next Christmas.

You never know when you might need it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Time out and Two...

Do you see that?

That is the hole that my sweet little two-year-old put in the wall.

Here's the story.

Apparently, my son is getting some of his two year molars in the back. He started biting over the weekend and I could feel where one came up, but there are three others that are still coming.

So, he's biting.....Scott (actually in his lefty....which was REALLY, REALLY, awful! At least that is what I hear.)

So, he goes in time out.

I tell Scott that I have started sitting him on the step and walking away. I usually stand by our door in the hall so that I'm not longer holding him in my lap on the step while he is in time out, he is taking control of himself.

Scott decided to walk back into his (Scott's) playroom and check something on his computer. I was in the living room on mine. After two minutes, I said "Scott, it's been two minutes. You need to get Matthew out of timeout."

Scott goes out into the hall and say "Um...Babe, come see this."

I walk out to find that hole in the wall.


I made Matthew help me hold the vacuum to clean it up. Scott was concerned that he might exposed to something that might be in our plaster walls. Maybe, but if he was, he was already exposed when he stuck his little destructive fingers in there! This was just another one those times, where we disagreed. And even though I thought that Scott was probably right (don't tell him I said that), I have gotten in the habit of making Matthew fix things that he does wrong and help me clean up his messes. I feel that it helps him to be responsible for his actions. I decided that this was kind of a big thing to do wrong. The kind of thing that if he goes into time out again and keeps messing with that hole, we are going to have a very serious problem.

Matthew was a great helper. He held the vacuum end and helped me sweep up the 4 steps that had plaster on them. Then, Scott fixed the wall.

Gotta love boundary testing, right?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

You just gotta LOVE Cosmo! I can remember sneaking it in high school and then loving it in college.

Go here to get it for just $5!!

Party Ideas!

I love kids books! The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a great one! The pictures are amazing and it has a lot of educational pieces to it. Here's how one Mom turned it into an awesome party!!!

Be Different, Act Normal

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bring it!!!

I'm really excited!

I am not a New Year's resolution person. I can SAY that I am going to lose weight or eat right or whatever....but just the idea of a New Year's resolution is an epic fail! I think people do a better job of giving up something for Lent than they do a New Year's resolution.

That said, I do like to make new goals for the year. My biggest goal for 2011 is getting organized! More specific than that is getting my kitchen organized! I walk into my kitchen each morning and just wish that I could move! It never fails that there are a ton of dishes on the sink, the silverware is unorganized, and I can't get a pot or pan out of the cabinet in less than 5 minutes. I HATE IT! So I'm fixing it!

I started over the weekend with my "junk" drawer. Until then, my junk drawer housed a ton of junk, toothpicks that went wild, and my son's dishes and bowls. This drawer is really in an odd place and hard to get to. Even more difficult to make functional whenever Matthew's dishes are stacked so high that they keep the drawer from opening.

NOW...I have a drawer that has a couple organized containers that house things that we like to have close by, but don't need to be easily accessible. For example, candles, wine opening and closing devices (we could almost get rid of these for as much as we drink!), matches, and silly straws.

This morning, I took on the silverware/kitchen tool drawer. Job 1 was getting a silverware organizing device. Yes, sadly, after two years at this house we haven't even done that!!! I was also able to put a couple other little storage containers that are taking care of stuff like measuring cups, spoons, food processing parts, mixer parts, and orange peelers. It looks awesome!!! I was so excited that I did all of the dishes just so that I could have all of the silverware to fill up the little spaces.

I also tackled under the sink. I did that sometime last year and had some big of organization under there, but there were certain containers that were the wrong share for the space and/or were breaking. I fixed that and purged just a few things.

I am going to keep working on this. Maybe I will show you the end results, but I have to admit....I don't see any before pictures coming your way! My befores are so horrible that I'm embarrassed to show them!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Site that reads to your kids $99 value for free!

I found out about Mighty Books Jr. from this site: Confessions of a Couponer. If you go onto Mighty Books, you can sign up for a membership that allows you to access a ton of education material. The normal price is $99, but if you enter code: learntoread you can get it for free! I know that Matthew will enjoy watching and listening to these books.

Up at 4am....

Ever since I got sick New Year's Eve, I have been sleeping really weird. Sometime over the past year, we started making a habit out of going upstairs with Matthew around 8pm and watching an episode of Little Einsteins, Go Diego, Go!, or some other show. Lately, I can't stay up until the end of the show. I keep falling asleep while he is watching.

Let me say, I'm not one of those people that can very easily take an afternoon nap. I don't even have an easy time going to bed at a normal hour, but I have just been so exhausted that I literally cannot do anything to keep myself awake no matter what I do!

That "symptom" alone, was what cause me to take a pregnancy test earlier this week. I knew I had been sick for a while, but I have not had this feeling of complete exhaustion since weeks 6-12 of my pregnancies. I remember being pregnant with Matthew and one afternoon, while about 6 of my students were watching a movie (we had something going on that day that all of the other kids went home early with their parents), I started to feel exhausted. I sat down at the back of the room to just try to relax. Then, I fell asleep! I was mortified when the janitor nudged me and I realized that I had been out for 15 minutes! ****Side note, I do not make a habit of 1. taking naps basically EVER 2. Ignoring my class to nap****

The really annoying part of then (and now) is that after I would feel that complete exhaustion, I would fall asleep around 6pm and wake up at midnight and not be able to get back to sleep! It was a horrible cycle!

I feel like I'm dealing with that again...for whatever reason! Only now, the most horrible part is that it means no time to myself. Let me start by saying I VALUE, THRIVE, DESPERATELY NEED time to myself. I always have! I remember being in high school and loving the days/nights when everyone was out of the house and I could just sit and be! Being alone in my home always makes me feel this amazing sense of rejuvenation! Anymore, that doesn't happen a lot though. So, after Matthew was born, I got in this awful habit of staying up until 1am or later just so that I could feel like I was alone. Sometimes, I would still get up at 6am just so that I could have the time from 6-7 where my son and my husband were still in bed and it really seemed like I had the house to myself. Even I wasn't just sitting and relaxing, it seemed like getting laundry or dishes done at that time was so much easier and worth being up early to not be interrupted.

Well, tonight, I went to bed at 8, woke up at midnight...and it's 10 to 5 and I have checked everything online, watched a couple of episodes of George Lopez and then turned off everything and tossed and turned in bed for a while thinking about just a ton of things that annoy me!

I know that this will probably be my most productive time today. I have considered doing laundry and some dishes (probably will after posting), but I hate that I'm going to spend the rest of the day tired, impatient, annoyed....AND when 8pm rolls around, I'll probably be asleep before my son again!

What am I gonna do?

PS....I'm NOT a coffee drinker...I HATE the taste!

Thifty Valentine Craft

I found this amazingly simple and thrifty wreath on The Thriftress

Seriously, you'll never guess how simple this is!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Craft project!

I finally finished this! I found the directions for most of it on The Idea Room

Letter "A" is for airplane

This was also part of the Jan plan!

Matthew started off by coloring his letter "A"

Here's some airplanes to glue on letter A

We needed one more airplane...and Daddy just happens to be an awesome drawer!

All done!

Proof that the "Jan plan" is going...some pictures

This was our Aviary Trip a couple Fridays ago....

Our field trip partners - We took turns. I took a picture of her and her daughter feeding the birds and she took one on her camera of Matthew and I.

Matthew looking in the window at the penguins! Sorry, I wasn't able to turn this picture.

The same bird that chased Matthew last time!

Practicing with your kids and ideas for homeschoolers

My husband and I still talk about homeschooling our son on a regular basis. I realize that the time is going to fly and we will have to make decisions about what to do rather quickly! I did not want to wait to figure out where to find support for homeschooling, so I joined a homeschooling group (by way of the internet) that meets up and includes parents from around Pittsburgh.

The group is called PALs. Today, a woman presented a problem that she was having with her son. She was looking for some ideas on how to teaching him spelling in a more kinetics (or it seemed more like she just wanted something that didn't involve constant paper and pencil) way. I got really excited! I have always loved the challenge of finding a way to help a child bring out their best at school. I thought that some of my readers might be interested in some new ideas about ways that they can help to bring out the best in their child.

Here are some of the ideas that I suggested:

~Use songs that your child knows to remember how spell words....
For example...a word with 5 letters you can use the BINGO song.
There is word that I can spell
And that word is Mom-my

I did a quick google and got a list of songs for different words. Here's just a quick link:
The awesome thing about this is that you can start using songs that even your younger children know and they will likely catch on to the spelling, simply because trying to learn just about anything is easier if you have a song to help you.

~You can also have your child use his body to make letters. Let him be creative....making some of the letters could be very interesting (I did this with a small group of something like a Z would take 3 children to create, but see what your child comes up with)

~Using letter manipulatives can also be helpful. Something like magnet letters that your child can move around on a cookie sheet is helpful.

~You can practice spelling words in shaving cream or put salt or rice into a pan and write the letters into the media. For younger children, you can skip the spelling and do this with letters or shapes. Shaving cream sounds like it is going to be messy, but once it foams up, it starts to disappear so the mess is minimal.

~I bought a cheap set of alphabet rubber stamps that I used in my classroom to let kids make words. Some kids like to be able to use the ink and stamps while creating their words.

~Using something like dry noodles to create letters could help practice. Again, for a younger child, they could use the noodles to make shapes, numbers, or practicing single letters.

~Of course, as a My Smart Hands Instructor, (but really as a person that is still amazed that her 2 year old is still signing) I think that signing spelling words would be helpful.

~Also, a great idea for older kids is using comics to help improve their writing. Find a comic strip and black out the words, then let your child write in whatever they want. I have found this is a huge motivator for older boys!

~Does your son like video games? Get him a magazine subscription to something like Nintendo Power and let him write to the editor once a month.

~If your child is into something else, maybe....trains, have them go to the Science Center and interview one of the guys that work in the train area. Your child will have to write a list of questions ahead of time. Then, maybe record their answers on a recording device (if you think that will be easier and cause less anxiety). Then, have him write it up like a Q and A in a magazine.

~I have also recently found a number of blogs that home schooled children are writing as a way to improve their writing skills. Their parents are kind of the owners of the blog, but the kids get to say their piece. I think that's really interesting!

I used to love to think of different ways to motivate kids. What are some ideas that you have? If you try any of my ideas, I would LOVE to hear how it worked out for you!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Big Fat......

Big Fat....


I've been feeling so yucky lately. Today had to be the worst though! All I wanted to do was sleep. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking "This is the same feeling of exhaustion that I have only ever had during weeks 6-12 of being pregnant." I had that in the back of my mind. Along with the thought that if I could really be pregnant all of the crazy meds that I've been taking to make me better would be really bad!

I decided that I should just take a test to make sure. At least I wouldn't have to wonder.

No dice, one baby. Not a big deal since we're not looking to get pregnant just yet, but a little disappointing too.

After finishing up the test. I went to the Walgreen's Take Care Clinic. That seriously took forever! They ask a million questions! Plus, with my high blood pressure, having missed the am dose (because I slept all morning) and the night before dose (because I was asleep before it was time to take my meds) I just knew my pressure would be high. Oh yeah....and taking the meds that were kind of working to make me feel better vs. the ones that I'm "allowed" to take because of my hypertension.

It just annoys me that it is the same song and dance every time. The first bp reading is 160/90....and here we go!! NOW they decide that my blood pressure is more important than whatever other symptoms I came in for. We take my blood pressure two more times, I get all of the lectures, and all of the stuff about following up with a dosage is so high blah, blah, blah! I get that this isn't something to mess with. I had a very harsh reminder of that!!! All of that is on the backburner when I am 3 weeks into being sick and willing to do whatever to get over being tired, not sleeping, and feeling like crap all day long!

Anyway, after more than an hour, I get a simple diagnosis of acute sinusitis or a sinus infection. I have go get a Z-pack and I'm on merry way (hopefully) to getting better.

Tonight was awful though! I really felt like I couldn't gather all of the strength inside of me to even move! I was supposed to be looking after the 3 kids that I watch (had Matthew with me) and all I wanted to do was lay down and sleep! I honestly haven't felt like this since I was in my first trimester. I'm so annoyed! I want get all kinds of things done, but when I start to do them, I just feel like I'm going to die! I hope that I can sleep through the night tonight and get up and back to my routine! I think I've done only, maybe 3 loads of laundry this week.....washed dishes like twice....maybe. Everything else has kind of gone by the wayside and I feel like a slacker. I know it's all because I just don't feel well though.

Casting for Recovery

My Mom is an awesome event planner! You might think that planning an event is as simple as putting out some stuff on a table, having a sign in, and having food to eat when you get there. Those are all part of it, but it takes hundreds of man hours to get an event together.

There are so many little pieces that are involved that if you miss just one piece, it can impact your event in a negative way. I remember my wedding. We had 3 years to plan it! In the last month, there were so many little tedious tasks that I couldn't stand it! I was fighting my Mom constantly, telling her that we didn't having to do this or that!

What was included in this or that? Checking every single envelope to make sure that we had everyone's name spelled correctly. THEN, checking the address that we had for them with to be sure that we didn't make any mistakes on the spelling of their street, city, or house number. Finally, we would input zip codes online just to make sure that we had all of those 100% correct.

This task alone took forever. I HATED it!!! My Mom was right though! We found a handful of envelopes that were wrong. Even though it would have only impacted a few people, those could have been a few people that THOUGHT they should be invited, but NEVER were. Have you ever been that person?

One of the awesome events that my Mom helps to plan is a Casting for Recovery wearable art fashion show and luncheon in February. This year will be the third year that it has been done.

The money from the tickets that are sold at the fashion show, the auction, and other items that are for sale, go to help benefit the Western PA Casting for Recovery retreat. The retreat is for women who are breast cancer survivors. It offers them a no-cost retreat to meet and share experiences with other survivors. On their retreat, the women also get to learn the new skill of fly-fishing. The idea is to promote physical, mental, and emotional healing.

Click here for more information about Casting for Recovery.

I really wanted to do this post to show off some pictures from last year's fashion show. So here you go!

This is the cute little setting on the table.

Information table for Casting for Recovery with a newspaper article about the previous year's retreat.

The amazing auction with a handmade quilt! I really wanted to win that!

Two of the most amazing survivors I know! My Mom is on the left and Judy-Ann (I'm pretty sure I was supposed to send you this picture...sorry about that!). My Mom went on this retreat in 2002 and I believe Judy-Ann went this past year.

This is the end of the wearable art fashion show. The models always come out at the end and show off some of the art. Then, they give a little gift to a few people in the audience.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Oh joy!

We have been sick at this house for a while. Me, I started getting sick on New Year's Eve and it hasn't let up! My son followed me into Sickland about a week after. I seems like just a cold. We cough, we sneeze, we phlegm, we snore....OH do we SNORE!

Each day I wake up thinking, "Okay! I'm still not better, but TOMORROW I will be." So far, that has not been the case! This morning, I finally decided to take Matthew to the doctor. I wanted to make sure that we didn't have bronchitis thing going on or something like that. As it turns out, he has, YET AGAIN, an ear infection. This time, a double ear infection. And the best part? He was so happy and hunky dory in the office that the Physician Assistant and the Doctor both asked he was always "this happy". I said "Yes! Always! This is why I never know if he is really sick."

We (by "we" I mean him....I still gotta go see someone) are on antibiotics again. He should be better by Thursday. I am going to will myself to see someone in the morning.

That is....IF I'm not better!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Are you awake? Are you okay?

I still have decided if I'm being crazy or concerned. I think I've mentioned that everyone in my family has been sick recently. Yesterday, I felt like just crawling into bed and watching movies all day. Life isn't like that when you have a toddler and a husband that is working overtime hours to help the family.

I decided that part of what I needed to do (to make myself feel better) was just start cleaning. Dishes needed done, the stove needed wiped off, the kitchen floor needed swept, there's a ton of laundry that was folded and needed to go up to our bedroom (which has been difficult, because all of this coughing stuff has made it really hard to breath heavy), and every time that I look at my son's playroom and see his toys all over, I just cringe! Anyway, I did a little bit of everything, but didn't really finish anything. I did feel better knowing that I got some of work done.

My mom called me around lunchtime and asked if she could come over and visit with Matthew and I. I was glad for the company and grateful that she brought over Wendy's for Matthew and I! After some book-reading, bowling, and some Thomas watching Matthew fell asleep in the crook of my Mom's arm. He looked so sweet. It was late, about 2:30 in the afternoon. I usually put him down around 1.

My Mom and I chatted for about an hour and then she left. I started to do "nap math" to determine when Matthew might be getting up. Usually he naps for two hours, but when he takes his name after 2ish, sometimes he will end up napping for closer to 3 hours. 5o'clock came and no wake up. 6, 7, 8o'clock and still no wake up. I started thinking about how sorry I was going to be when Matthew woke up at 2am and wanted to play, but then I'd think about how sick he had been feeling and thought that maybe his body actually needed the rest.

Around 10, I texted Scott and told him what was going on. I asked him if he thought I should wake Matthew up so he'd sleep through the night or just let him go. I told him that I just couldn't decide what to do. Scott said to just let Matthew sleep and if he got up through the night, he would stay up with him. That's one of the awesome things about my husband. While I am a light sleeper, I need my sleep! If I don't sleep, the following day involves: crying for no reason, hatred of everyone, and hatred for life! My husband knows this about me and has always been so great about getting up in the middle of the night to help me out.

Scott got home around 11:30 and we went to bed. Scott checked on Matthew and reported that he was still breathing (thank God!!!). I tried to sleep, but I was still coughing a lot and had a lot of anxiety about Matthew waking up in the middle of the night.

Imagine my surprise when I woke up at 6:30am and neither Scott nor Matthew were awake! I started to panic again! Could my son really be so sick that he needs over 16 hours of sleep? Could the cough and congestion hindered his ability to breath? Is everything okay and I'm freaking out for nothing????

Pulling my hair out (while thinking of all of the most horrible scenarios), I started this blog post to find out if you have ever had this freak out kind of moment....and do you check on your kiddo or just let him go??

After I wrote about half of this post, guess who woke up with a big smile, runny nose, and a VERY full diaper?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Making your own play kitchen

I saw this awesome kitchen on Sutton Grace. I know this isn't a project that I could do, but I would LOVE to try so that we have one that is one of a kind!

t-shirt pom poms TUTORIAL

This is neat!

Check it out at Craftaholics Anonymous

Soupy Saturday

We are all sick again. I still have this cough way down deep in my chest and while it is getting better, it just won't go away. Sadly, my son and my husband have both caught my cold over the past 48 hours. My poor baby was up coughing a lot last night and now has a runny nose again. My husband decided he was going to work some overtime this week and now he's got an eleven hour work day (on the phone), a cough, and a slowly vanishing voice. What to do?

I decided that it was time to make another big pot of chicken noodle soup. I really have no recipe, just a general knowledge of how to put it all together to make a nice big put of soup.

I started out with a whole chicken t that I bought this morning for $3.89. I put the chicken into a giant pot of water. I added a bag of baby carrots (which I cut up into smaller pieces), 4 stalks of celery, and 4 very small onions. I added a little bit of parsley, 3 whole garlic cloves (because a little bird keeps telling me how much they help when you are sick), a dash of salt and pepper, and a dash of celery salt.

I let all of that cook for about 45 minutes. Then, I added a bag of egg noodles and let that all cook for another 10 minutes.

Yesterday, I went to the Breadworks on the North Side. I picked up 6 Baby Tuscan's, because they were 3 for $1. I thought they would make great bread bowls. I cut out a hole at the top of my bread and stuck my soup inside.

This was a nice treat for me and for my throat!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Awesome Cauliflower Cheese Soup!

If you need a new soup recipe, I have one for you!

Surbrina, one of my playgroup moms, made this for her daughter's birthday. It was amazing! I had to have it! I finally decided to make it today. This comes from

Here it is....

Categories: Soups
Yield: 3 servings

1 md Cauliflower
2 c Chicken stock
1/4 c Butter or margarine
1/4 c Chopped onion
1/4 c All-purpose flour
1/2 ts Salt
1/8 ts Pepper
2 c Milk
1 c Grated medium Cheddar cheese
Buttered bread crumbs for

Cook cauliflower in chicken stock until tender. Do not
drain. Cool a bit. Run through blender to desired
texture. Set aside.

Melt butter in saucepan. Add onion and saute until
limp. Do not brown.

Mix in flour, salt and pepper. Add milk. Heat and stir
until it boils and thickens.

Add cheese and cauliflower mixture. Stir to heat and
melt cheese. Garnish with buttered bread crumbs.
Makes 5 cups.

From: “Company’s Coming Soups & Sandwiches” by Jean
Pare. Copyright 1987. Published and Distributed by
Company’s Coming, Box 8037, Sta F, Edmonton, Alberta,
Canada T6H 4N9.

Submitted by Joe Sibley.

Here are a couple things that I did.
1. I guess my choice of cauliflower was too big, because I cut it all up and there was going to be a lot not covered by chicken stock. I ended up doubling the entire recipe so that it would hopefully make up for the extra cauliflower. It worked!
2. I did not have actual chicken stock, so I made it with some water and chicken flavored cubes. It was a one cube to one cup ratio.
3. I didn't have the specific cheddar listed and ended up substituting with the cheddar-jack blend that I did have on hand.
4. I didn't mess with any bread crumb garnishes, but I did put a little crescent roll on the side to eat with this soup.

All in all...AWESOME!!!

Fur Lined Toilet Seats: Snow Cream

OMG!!! How to make ice cream with snow!! This is awesome!!!!!

Fur Lined Toilet Seats: Snow Cream: "If you’ve never tried this, you should! First, gather some snow.  Clean, fresh snow.  I recommend scraping the top layer of snow ..."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Window writing

I was checking out my favorite site No Time for Flashcards last week and came across this idea. Allie and her little man were having a great time, but she ran into some problems.

Seeing that post, reminded me of something I had up in the attic that I thought might work well for us. I had a set of 5 of these chalk markers, but I used two of them until they were gone and the yellow was dried up. The green and white had never been opened, so that's what we had!

See the videos below to find out how you can help your child practice writing on the windows with a quicky clean up.

***If you are wondering why you SHOULD let your child write on a window, read this:

How Vertical Surfaces Support Fine Motor Skill Development

When preschoolers hold a marker, paint brush or other instrument against a vertical surface, extra muscles in the wrist and hand are strengthened - muscles that don't get exercise when preschoolers write on a table or other horizontal surface. The tiny hand and wrist muscles work against gravity in a different way on vertical surfaces then they do when preschoolers write or draw on horizontal surfaces.

Inside fun!

Today was a quiet day until the snow started! I want to take Matthew out to play, but I'm still not feeling back to my normal self. So, we found something new to do inside!

Check out this video!

AND You may notice that we were able to recycle a few containers with this fun activity.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A two year old on ice!

Yesterday was awesome! I have been wanting to get my on son out on the ice to see if I have a future hockey player in the making. I've been thinking about this since before he was born and "planning" on taking him since he could walk. When we finally went yesterday it was "Geez...finally!"

I am happy to report that Matthew LOVED it! He keep saying "More hockey! More hockey!" Whenever we had to stop. I was exhausted! Over the course of about 2 hours we only managed 2 and a half laps. Pretty unexciting for someone that used to like to time the number of laps that she could do in "x" number of minutes! Still, I did enjoy seeing him have so much fun!

Here are some awesome pictures of our great time skating!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Awesome-easy Valentines!

These are super cute and super easy!

I would make one suggestion, I was at Giant Eagle and they had TONS of Christmas M&Ms for 97 cents on Wednesday. I recommend seeing if they still have some more and stocking up. You can use the red ones for this project and the green for St. Patrick's Day!

Toddler's first computer game

Have I mentioned that our son has forced us to come huge Disney Pixar fans recently? We not watch Cars and Toy Story (all three movies) on a regular basis. When we aren't watching "Mator", we are playing "Tractor Tippin'" with the trackers that he got from "Gamma" and if we're not watching one of the Toy Story movies we are playing with Buzz and Woody. I have to say, I think I love having a boy! I don't think I could ever get into the Princess stuff as much as I can get into the boyish stuff.

This morning, I thought I would see if I could find some kind of Cars games online. I found a site that my son loved. On this site, you make your own car, name it, and then drive it around "Radiator Springs". Matthew was not too into picking out his car parts or colors (although I did at least ask him), but once we got into town, he was super excited! The first thing that we had to do was talk to Mator and learn how to push the space bar for tippin those tractors. Then, we had to drive around town and find the farm where the tractors were and tip 3 of them. Matthew loved it! We spent about 15 minutes together doing (as Matthew calls it) "Track Tipin".

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Jan Plan" update

*Photo taken by my dear sweet brother

So far, the "Jan Plan" is going well. This week, I planned to: make a letter "N" that had numbers on it, make and play with a winter sensory box, go to the Aviary, go to the library for story time, and have Daddy take Matthew to the train museum.

I was doing great until we got to today. We did not make it to the library today, because I just wasn't feeling well. I thought I getting something. I ended up going back up to bed at 9am and sleeping on and off until noon. When I got up, I felt horrible. I was dizzy, had chills, and my body was aching all over. I decided it was a day to just stay home.

I hate days like these, because I end up with a feeling of guilt for keeping my son in for most of the day. My husband is not the type that would take my son to the library without my having told him to. Which is fine, but the alternative is that he sits in our Living Room and watching TV and movies all day! I HATE THAT!!!

Everyone knows that TV rots our minds! Still, it can be hard to keep your little one as wrapped up in anything as they are when they are watching TV. I know that, for my son, he doesn't even MOVE when the TV is on. I can talk to him and ask him anything and get no response. Who else is like this? Do you know my husband?? :)

So why is it so hard to cut myself some slack? It's not even like I went off to do a craft or something. I really just wasn't feeling well. I even have this kind of running tab in my mind of how much TV he is watching in a day. I figure that if I have him out doing things most days it will make up for days like this where I am not able to keep him moving and playing.

What are your feelings on your children watching TV? Sometimes, I feel like I'm the only one worried about certain issues. This is one of them! What are some of your ideas for getting your little one away from the TV long enough for you to do the dishes or fold a load of laundry?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

All felt and glue gun play mat...WOW!!!

Since I've really put my blogging foot to the floor, I've found a lot of cool ideas from people that are doing lots of cool things. Today, I was hopping from blog to blog and found this amazing activity mat made totally out of felt and a glue gun. The site is "A girl and a glue gun" and I think you are going to have to check it out!!

BTW...She made one for girls too!

Wedded Mommy Bliss!!: Winter Sensory tub

Wedded Mommy Bliss!!: Winter Sensory tub: "Matthew loved his winter sensory box! That's what it looked like. Here's the contents: This box includes: (from top) 1. blue Legos (Ch..."

Winter Sensory tub

Matthew loved his winter sensory box!

That's what it looked like.

Here's the contents:

This box includes: (from top) 1. blue Legos (Christmas gift-free) 2. jingle bells (yard sale over the summer, 10 cents for a ton of them) 3. pink snowflake and blue gems (Target-dollar bins, $1 for a pack) 4. q-tips (out of the bathroom) 5. Decorative rocks (bought years ago at Target) 6. silver ribbons (had them leftover from Christmas) 7. plain blue pompoms (Target-dollar bins) 8. Facial pads (Extra bonus that came with the q-tips out of the bathroom) 9. Sparkly blue pompoms ( Target-dollar bins, $1 for a pack with a bunch of colors) 10. Cotton balls (bathroom) 11. (not shown) Snowman, 2 reindeer, and candy cane ornaments from Target on 75% off. 12. (not shown) ice cube tray brought down from the attic

So what did he do with it? As soon as he saw what was inside he started searching for all of the jingle bells. He took out all of them and started sorting them into an ice cube tray. Then, he went after the flat marbles and put all of them into the ice cube tray.

After he sorted a little, I thought it was cute that he decided that the reindeer needed to eat. So, he put the face of the reindeer near the ice cube tray and started making the slurping noise that he always makes to show that something is eating.

I want to mention that none of what he did was directed by me. I did not suggest that he sort anything, but I did play with him for a while. Then, I started making dinner and my normally pretty active son, sat at the table with his sensory tub and played.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The "Jan Plan"

This is the plan for January. On the top left, there is sort of a quick version of my plans. The bottom left has a list of books that I want to go get out of library to go along with what we are working on and the places to find them in our library.

When you see "NTFFC" that stands for "No Time For Flash Cards".

This is not everything that I will do in a day with my son (wouldn't that be boring!), it is more of a guide to remind me of things that I want to do with him to focus on certain themes or topics. I have always been the type to add new things as we go. I have already looked at this and realized that there is no place for polar animals! You just HAVE to do polar animals in January! :)

Do you have ideas for January or how to improve on this calendar? Leave me a comment!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Barnyard Door Eggs

When my brother and I were little, we loved "dippy eggs". At some point, my Dad introduced us to "Barnyard Doors". This egg is so easy to make, but it is well loved by kids.

Cut a hole that is about the size of a yolk in your bread and place bread in your nonstick frying pan. Your circle does not have to be perfect. I like to leave the part that I took out in the pan so that it can be toasted for dipping when the eggs are done cooking.

Next, break the egg so that it ends up in the center of the bread hole. Fry it on both sides.

That's all! It should only take about 5 minutes to make!

This is my son enjoying his dippy eggs.