Saturday, August 31, 2013

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made: Birthday party plans... two year old parties seem too easy... no pinata, no games, just food.  Love it!  

What I'm Reading:  I have a new Amish book for review on my nightstand.  Just started a few days ago and I love it.  It's part of a series that I've really enjoyed and can't wait to share with you.

What I'm Doing: Today we're going to my cousin's wedding.  I'm so excited for her.

What I'm Watching: Regency House Party as part of the house series on PBS.  Don't like this one as well, but it's still interesting.

What I'm Enjoying: Cooler weather.  But then again for us, cooler weather means mid-90's.  But it also means Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

What are you up to?

Friday, August 30, 2013

2013 August Bookmarks

*Bookmarks is an online book club hosted at Creative2xmom. Here we discuss the books we've read in the past month as well as the suggested reading. Our suggested reading for August was Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner.

These are the books I read this month:

12 Days in Africa by Lisa Sanders--  See my review here.

Grace, Gold, and Glory by Gabrielle Douglas--  Douglas is a two-time Olympic gold medalist who became the first African-American woman to win an Olympic all-around medal.  This book delves into the emotional journey that finally culminated in her reaching the top.  But it wasn't all roses and balance beams.  Douglas' journey certainly had it bumps along the way.  Although this book described the ups and downs of Douglas' climb to the Olympics, it lacked emotion or depth of perspective.  This is certainly to be expected as the author is still quite young, but it wasn't something I thought of in picking this book.  However, it is a consideration when you're reading 200+ pages written in texting language.

Fashioned to Reign by Kris Vallotton-- See my review here.

Our suggested reading for July was Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner-- Well, I have a confession to make.  I did not read this month's book. But it wasn't for lack of trying.  We've had this one on our bookshelf for years as my husband had previously read it.  I asked him to find it for me and we pulled it out.  The next day, neither of us knew where it was.  We're not sure if one of the kids moved or if one of us did and we're just too tired to remember.  Wherever it is, it looks like it's not showing up till at least a year from now.  Sorry!  ;-)

So what are your bookmarks this month?

Tell us in the comments about the books you're chewing on. Or link up a review from your own blog. Let's share the books we're finding, good and bad. And give us your thoughts on Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner.

Don't forget to come back Sept 27th as we discuss Mentoring Mom by Jackie Kendall.  And don't worry, I'm putting this one on my nightstand.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fashioned to Reign {Review}

Fashioned to Reign proposes a view of women that frees them to minister and lead in their respective communities and churches.  Vallotton does a great job of addressing some of the more troublesome Scriptures which seem to contradict themselves.  What is contextual?  What is "for today?"  How much authority should women have in leading and speaking out?

Vallotton sets out to truly free women from the current cultural mindset.  In today's world, women are expected to lead like a man to be effective.  But the author takes us on a journey to see how men and women can, and should co-lead (or co-reign) to be most effectual.  This book is so jam packed with context and word study, analysis and history.  Whether you agree with Vallotton's view or not, he certainly provides a well-researched point of view.  

The most troublesome part of the book is set right from the beginning.  Vallotton asks us to imagine with him what Eden was like.  But part of his imagining is that woman was take out of man not just physically (in the rib), but emotionally and in her greatest essence.  This leads him to the conclusion that Adam housed both strong male and female characteristics prior to Eve's creation.  But upon her creation, those positive characteristics were separated, necessitating the co-reign of males and females.  While I agree with the point his trying to make, the imagining is so "outside my box," I would hesitate to share this book with some people who man need to hear the main message.

Despite it's hiccups, Fashioned to Reign is written in an easily understood manner and addresses some key passages that are still troubling today.  Once you get into the meat of this book, there is a lot to think on and process through.  Whether you agree with it all, Vallotton does a wonderful job of paving the way for women to co-reign.

*Disclaimer: Chosen Books sent me a free copy of this book for review.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, August 26, 2013

10 Things This Week

Here's how I did on my goals this week:

Marriage and Parenting:
*Start homeschooling
*Start a new chapter book
*Make some sensory play

*Write 1-2 WYW posts
*Finish 1-2 unfinished posts
*Finish review book

*Try a new salad recipe
*Work on 2nd birthday party

*Eat 5 fruits and veggies a day
*Get 8 hrs of sleep a night

These are my 10 Goals for the Week:

*Continue finding our groove in homeschool
*Make some sensory play

*Write 1 WYW post
*Finish review book

*Fertilize roses/lemon tree
*Work on 2nd birthday party
*Attend a family wedding

*Eat 5 fruits and veggies a day
*Get 8 hrs of sleep/night
*Get back in a workout routine
What are you up to this week?

31 Brave Questions for Brave Couples

After 12 years of marriage and three children, there are days I look at my husband and wonder when the last time was that we had a real conversation.  Sometimes it feels like we're just going through the motions... getting kids to swim team, PTA meetings, clean up the kitchen, take out the trash... it sometimes makes the days come and go without notice.

And when we do get a quiet moment together, well what is there to talk about?  My brain's so exhausted and yet this is my most important relationship to invest in.  So where do we start?

Hopefully these 31 Brave Questions will give you a jumping off point for your marriage when you have time with your spouse.  So grab a cup of coffee, sit close to one another, and open up your hearts to each other.  Enjoy!

31 Brave Questions for Brave Couples

The first thing I noticed about you was...
My favorite memory from our dating years is...
One thing that surprised me about you was...
Another surprise in our first year of marriage was...
My favorite quality I see in you is...
I love it when you...
The you do that always makes me laugh is...
Our kids would freak out if they knew we...
Before we take our last breath, the one thing I want to do with you is...
I love to see you in...
The most scared I've ever seen you was when...
The happiest I've ever seen you was when...
I used to always wish I could...
If I could have anyone over for dinner (living or dead), it would be...
When we're old and gray, I hope I don't look at you and say, "I wish we had done..."
If I could spend 24 hours doing anything with you, it would be...
If we could travel anywhere together, I'd take you to...
This song always reminds me of you...
My favorite memory of our wedding day is...
My greatest need from you right now is...
If I could have any superhero power it would be...
If I could feast on anything and not get sick, it would be...
I laugh everytime I think of you...
If we could enjoy any hobby together, I love to enjoy.... with you!
My favorite photo of us is the one where...
I feel you love me the most when...
My favorite thing about you when we were dating was...
One thing that scares me is...
I love it when you...
My ideal anniversary trip is...
One thing I want to improve in our relationship is...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made:  Lesson Plans... seriously... back to school this week is keeping us extremely busy.

What I'm Reading: Fashioned to Reign... it's good, but with back to school, my brain can only handle one chapter at a time.  Hoping to review it before this month's bookmarks. 

What I'm Doing: Listening to the older two play games before they have a sleep over.  They always get along the best when it's bedtime.

What I'm Watching: We just finished Million Dollar Duck with Dean Jones for family movie night.  A little slow, but family friendly and the kids loved it.

What I'm Enjoying: Savoring the end of the summer produce.  Before we know it, it will be gone till next summer.  Gonna enjoy it while I can.

What are you up to?

Friday, August 23, 2013

After School Snack: Chocolate No-Bake Cookies

Looking for a fun, after school snack?  These boiled cookies are yummy, easy, and chocolatey.  Need I say more? 

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Chocolatey Boiled Cookies

2 c. sugar
4 Tbsp cocoa
1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 stick butter
2 c. uncooked oats
3 Tbsp peanut butter
nuts or raisins (optional)

1. Mix sugar cocoa, milk and butter together in a sauce pan.

2. Boil for 2 min.

3. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients.

4. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper and allow to cool.

These need a little time to set up.  But when they're ready, you just can't stop eating them!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

First Day of School 2013

Oh, we have had a fantastic summer!  We've been to the beach.  We've played baseball.  We've made homemade ice cream.  We've had a fantastic, full summer!

But August is here and that means school.  Birthdays remind me that the kids are growing up.  But the first day of school really reminds me that they're growing up.  My baby girl is starting kindergarten.  There is something seriously wrong with that sentence.  And of course, baby had to be in the picture as well.

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That's my boy!  This summer I really started to see how his mind works and how he's growing more every day.  We still have our struggles, but he's growing so fast.  I'm so proud of him.  Third grade here he comes.
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And since we homeschool, here's our class photo!  (Baby included as well)

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For a couple of days before I wanted to make the first day special and I was trying to think of something my kids would really enjoy.  So like any good mother, we took First Day photos ... and then we went out to donuts.  Yeah donuts.  I gave them sugar then I expected them to concentrate on school.  Ooops!  But they each got to pick out a donut, and Mommy had coffee for the first time in six months.  And we were off to hit the books.

Lydia loves school and can't get enough.  Especially when it comes to "cut and paste."

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I worked hard to set up a small desk space in our tiny house and Noah loves having that option when things get too loud at the dinning room table.  But he just can't sit still!  :-)

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And since I have a two year old in the house as well, this was my living room about half way through the day.  Toys, books, musical instruments, and a basket of laundry I'm trying to frantically fold while the kids were on the slip n slide.  Yes, slip n slide during school!  Hey after all, it was the first day!

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Have your kids gone back to school yet?
Are they excited?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Praying for your Children

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I found this list of 31 Biblical Virtues to Pray for Your Children and had to share them with you.  With a new school year starting, it feels like a fresh start.  It just reminds me how important it is to keep first things first.  What greater gift can we give to our children than our time spent praying for them?

1. Salvation—"Lord, let salvation spring up within my children, that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory." (Isa. 45:82 Tim. 2:10)

2. Growth in Grace—"I pray that my children may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Pet. 3:18)

3. Love—"Grant, Lord, that my children may learn to live a life of love, through the Spirit who dwells in them." (Gal. 5:25Eph. 5:2)

4. Honesty and Integrity—"May integrity and honesty be their virtue
and their protection." (Ps. 25:21)

5. Self-Control—"Father, help my children not to be like many others around them, but let them be alert and self-controlled in all they do." (1 Thess. 5:6)

6. Love for God's Word—"May my children grow to find Your Word more precious than much pure gold and sweeter than honey from the comb." (Ps. 19:10)

7. Justice—"God, help my children to love justice as You do and act justly in all they do." (Ps. 11:7Mic. 6:8)

8. Mercy—"May my children always be merciful, just as their Father is merciful." (Luke 6:36)

9. Respect (for self, others, and authority)—"Father, grant that my children may show proper respect to everyone, as Your Word commands."  (1 Pet. 2:17)

10. Biblical Self-Esteem—"Help my children develop a strong self-esteem that is rooted in the realization that they are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus." (Eph. 2:10)

11. Faithfulness—"Let love and faithfulness never leave my children, but bind these twin virtues around their necks and write them on the tablet of their hearts." (Prov. 3:3)

12. Courage—"May my children always be strong and courageous in their character and in their actions." (Deut. 31:6)

13. Purity—"Create in them a pure heart, O God, and let that purity of heart be shown in their actions." (Ps. 51:10)

14. Kindness—"Lord, may my children always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else." (1 Thess. 5:15)

15. Generosity—"Grant that my children may be generous and willing to share, and so lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age." (1 Tim. 6:18-19)

16. Peace-Loving—"Father, let my children make every effort to do what leads to peace." (Rom. 14:19)

17. Joy—"May my children be filled with the joy given by the Holy Spirit." (1 Thess. 1:6)

18. Perseverance—"Lord, teach my children perseverance in all they do, and help them especially to run with perseverance the race marked out for them." (Heb. 12:1)

19. Humility—"God, please cultivate in my children the ability to show true humility toward all." (Titus 3:2)

20. Compassion—"Lord, please clothe my children with the virtue of compassion." (Col. 3:12)

21. Responsibility—"Grant that my children may learn responsibility, for each one should carry his own load." (Gal. 6:5)

22. Contentment—"Father, teach my children the secret of being content in any and every situation, through Him who gives them strength." (Phil. 4:12-13)

23. Faith—"I pray that faith will find root and grow in my children's hearts, that by faith they may gain what has been promised to them." (Luke 17:5-6Heb. 11:1-40)

24. A Servant's Heart—"God, please help my children develop servant's hearts, that they may serve wholeheartedly, as if they were serving the Lord, not men." (Eph. 6:7)

25. Hope—"May the God of hope grant that my children may overflow with hope and hopefulness by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Rom. 15:13)

26. Willingness and Ability to Work—"Teach my children, Lord, to value work and to work at it with all their heart, as working for the Lord and not for men." (Col. 3:23)

27. Passion for God—"Lord, please instill in my children a soul that 'followeth hard after thee,' one that clings passionately to You." (Ps. 63:8)

28. Self-Discipline—"Father, I pray that my children may acquire a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair." (Prov. 1:3)

29. Prayerfulness—"Grant, Lord, that my children's lives may be marked by prayerfulness, that they may learn to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers." (1 Thess. 5:17)

30. Gratitude—"Help my children to live lives that are always overflowing with thankfulness and always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Eph. 5:20Col. 2:7)

31. A Heart for Missions—"Lord, please help my children to develop a desire to see Your glory declared among the nations, Your marvelous deeds among the peoples." (Ps. 96:3)

By Bob Hostetier

10 Things This Week

So August has been so crazy.  We've been loving our summer and really aren't ready for it to end.  School starts today and I'm saying a tearful good-bye to the lazy days of summer.  But we're excited to tackle 3rd grade and kindergarten.  So here we go.  With a return to routine, I'm also hoping to get these 10 Things accomplished this week:

10 Things This Week:

Marriage and Parenting:
*Start homeschooling
*Start a new chapter book
*Make some sensory play

*Write 1-2 WYW posts
*Finish 1-2 unfinished posts
*Finish review book

*Try a new salad recipe
*Work on 2nd birthday party

*Eat 5 fruits and veggies a day
*Get 8 hrs of sleep a night

What are you up to this week?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

12 Days in Africa {Review}

12 Days in Africa... less than two weeks... and yet it completely changed Lisa Sanders life.  While Sanders was sending one son to college and get ready to say good-bye to the second, she sensed that God has an adventure waiting for her.  And so she and her 17 year old son geared up for the adventure of a lifetime.

During her time in Africa, Sanders began to see the power that a Mother's heart can have in reaching the world.  It was her mother's heart that held a little boy in his dying moments.  And it was a mother's heart that caused her to follow the Lord's voice in sponsoring another child.  All in all, it was a life changing journey from the comfort of home to an unknown world, half way around the world.

Sanders writing style is sporadic.  She has a tendency to share a story and then revisit the same story later in the book.  It makes it hard to follow the timeline of events.  But despite the format of the book, 12 Days in Africa does a wonderful job of sharing the "other world-ness" of the rest of the world.  If you've never been out of the country, this is a challenging book.  It'll challenge you to look at your life and realize that anyone can make a difference in the world.  Anyone who's willing to listen to the Lord's voice and chase an adventure.

*Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made:  I can't say that I made much while I was at my mom's this past week.  We played outside a lot and just relaxed.  But relaxed at my mom's means, picking blackberries, picking walnuts, shredding zucchini, and still working.  So lots of kitchen work.

What I'm Reading:  I'm still readying Fashioned to Reign, but while I was gone this week, I did read a book by an Olympic gymnast and 12 Days in Africa that I will review soon.

What I'm Doing: Lots and lots of yard work.  Our lives have been crazy busy lately and I have lots of weeding, pruning, and fertilizing to do.  Busy in the yard.

What I'm Watching: My kids are on a Lemonade Stand kick this week and they are working hard for their money.  Love my little enterpeneurs.

What I'm Enjoying: The last few days of summer.

What are you up to?

Friday, August 16, 2013

More Back to School Traditions

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It's that time of year again... Back to School time.  I can hardly believe we're back in the end of August and kids all over the country are getting ready for school.  Including mine.  My babies start school on Monday... Monday!  And I'm so excited about making their first day special.  Maybe as much easing my anxiety that my babies are growing up.  So besides Five Ways to Make the First Day of School Special, here are some more ideas for Back to School traditions:

Special Breakfast-- I know mornings can be hectic, but with a little forethought this is possible.  Pre-make some waffles for a waffle bar, blend together individual smoothies, put out some fresh fruit for a yogurt bar.  Doesn't have to be too complicated.  Just something out of the ordinary.

Walk/Bike to School-- Take some time to enjoy the outdoors and take it all in.  What a fun morning to bike to school and greet your friends.

Journal for Each Child-- My kids love to write.  so this gives them a fresh new start for the year.  It's a special place for them to share their thoughts, practice their writing, and express who they are.

Picture Near the Same Tree-- Instead of taking JUST a First Day of School photo, why not take it in the same place every year?  This is a great way to show growth in your children from year to year.

Start a New Read Aloud-- We share a read aloud book with our kids every evening.  Back to School is a wonderful time to start a new book together.  It's a fun thing to look forward to and a great start to the new year.

Start a New Scripture to Memorize-- This is a new one for us this year, but I'm excited for it.  Again this is a fun thing to look forward to and a great way to use the momentum of a new year.

Do you have any favorite Back to School traditions?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Back to (Home)School Shopping at Dollar Tree

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I love the Dollar Tree.  And the Dollar Tree unfortunately loves me too.  Anyone else have that problem?  You walk into a Dollar Tree at least once a week and come out wondering how you found "SO MANY GOOD DEALS."  Come out, Dollar Tree addicts.  I know I'm not the only one.

So while you're out and about doing your Back to School shopping, don't forget our favorite discount haven.  These are just a few of the "school" items we've picked up over the years:

Binder clips--I didn't think I'd ever need these, but after our first full year of homeschooling, I realized they are wonderful.  I've used them for keeping units together, collecting samples, and organizing projects.

Stickers, tattoos, fun pencils, bookmarks, etc--This is how I stock my reward box.  And my kids love it.

Thin highlighters--Thin highlighters are great for writing letters and having your kindergartener trace.

Sharpies--With kids, I couldn't live without sharpies.  They are great for labeling everything: beach towels, backpacks, hats, lunch boxes, sports gear, etc.

Workbooks--Our Dollar Tree stocks a huge variety of workbooks for preschoolers and kindergarteners.  It's been very frugal to teach my littles there letters and numbers, among other early concepts.

Chapter readers--In the past year, we've found numerous chapter books for young readers, including Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Moby Dick, and more.  The vocabulary is easier without the content being watered down.

White boards--My kids each have a personal size white board for doing work at the table.  They are compact and portable, and just a lot of fun to use.

White board strips--Again, kids, love using white boards.  And these thinner sentence strip boards are a lot of fun for practicing, including spelling words and math problems.

Sentence strips--I love sentence strips for posting bits around the house.  We've used them for posting the alphabet, the numbers up to 20, and labeling items for practice printing.

Chalk--Chalk is just fun and we use it a lot in games and spelling quizzes.  My sons favorite way to use it is in spelling practice.

Glue sticks--If you've got preschoolers or elementary schoolers, you know you can always use a glue stick.  Collages, cutting practice, and projects,... we're always searching for a glue stick in our house.

Scissors--I love having extra pairs of scissors for those projects that come up instead of us all fighting over the same pair of kitchen scissors.

Flashcards--Dollar Tree carries some great flashcards for addition, subtraction, beginning reading, shapes, colors, and more.

Bulletin board decor--I've picked up large shapes and objects for making my own matching games, number recognition games, and sight word cards.

Organization boxes--These's always a huge variety of buckets, bins, and boxes for organizing your supplies.  I keep several in the house: one for markers crayons etc, one for other school supplies, one for a reward box, etc.

I'm so excited about a new school year starting soon.  And saving money while we get ready, makes it all the sweeter!

What are your favorite items to pick up at the Dollar Tree?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Five Ways to Make the First Day of School Special

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When I look at this sweet little face, I can't believe it's been a year since we took this picture.  This sweet little boy and I spent his 2nd grade homeschooling and we both survived.  How can it possibly be time to start another school year?  A few days ago, I posted on facebook, asking other mom's what their favorite traditions are for the First Day of School.  These were some of the ideas we brainstormed:

Gift them with a special school supply--My kids love any special little surprise to their day.  So a new box of pencils, a fun colored binder, or a new box of crayons laying at their breakfast spot just adds a touch of fun to the morning.  It's even better when it's a surprise!

Take First Day of School photos--Everyone agreed that First Day photos are important.  Like I said, I hardly remember these little ones from last year.  It's a great way to get excited for the day and commemorate a new grade.

Go to the park with a great snack--Why not pick up your kids from school and head to the park with a special snack?  One mom even commented that they go out to ice cream after the first day.

Take a field trip--This one's for us homeschoolers.  Easing back into the new year can be tough so plan a special outing for the first day.  Or even just for the afternoon.  It can easily coincide with a new unit and since everyone's in school, you won't be fighting the crowds.

Plan a special meal--This can be a breakfast or dinner.  If you have time in the morning, a waffle bar or going out to donuts might be in order.  If not, let your kids plan what they want for dinner.  Either way, make it a treat and your kids will have something special to look forward to all day.

Most of all, just enjoy this special time with your kids.  Though the days are long, the years are short.  And next August, we'll all be saying, "Who are these kids?"  They grow up so fast.  Take a moment to commemorate the turning of a page as a new school year approaches.
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What's your favorite way to make the first day of school special?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made:  I finished 2 out of 3 Christmas ornaments.  We're waiting to hear what's happening with our foster child before I painted his.

What I'm Reading: Fashioned to Reign by Kris Vallotton.  I just started it so I don't have much of an opinion yet, but it will be on the monthly bookmarks post on the 30th.

What I'm Doing: The kids and I are visiting Grandma's and we're doing lots of blackberry picking and making jam.  The kids fly through Grandma's jam during the year and we need to stock up.

What I'm Watching:  I started a new "House" series on Youtube.  It's on to Regency House Party.

What I'm Enjoying: Fresh summer blackberries... being at home... savoring the last carefree days of summer...

What are you up to?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Disneyland's Main Street: Ride by Ride

Ok, so there's not really any rides in Main Street (technically, but I'll get to that later), but that doesn't mean there's any reason to rush through this part of the park.  Main Street is detailed, magical, and just as absorbing as the rest of Disneyland once you take the time to soak it in.  Let's start with Main Street's popular attraction: Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.

I remember seeing this animatronic show when I was younger, but there's so much more to it than just Mr. Lincoln.  As you're waiting for the show, make sure you check out all the models housed in this building as well.  There's the White House, models of how the show was made, interviews with Walt Disney about his original vision, and so much more.  I would love to go back and spend time reading and learning with my kids.

Also housed in this area, is some of the original concepts for developing Disneyland.  There are also scale models of past and present attractions, as well as so many other hidden delights.  Don't miss this gem in your rush to the castle.

Main Street's Modes of Transpotation-- If you're looking to take a load off, there are four modes of transportation for getting around.   Catch a ride on Disneyland's Horse Drawn Streetcar.  This open air trolley is a great way to slow down and take in the sights and sounds of Main Street.        Take the Omnibus.  This open air two-story bus is a fun way to catch the details high up and all around as you approach Sleeping Beauty's Castle.  Main Street's Fire Engine is a replica of one the very first fire trucks.  Walt Disney is rumored to have drove this fire engine around Disneyland before it opened.  What about a Jitney?  This open air vehicle will make you feel like you're the star of a parade.  These are all available for one-way transportation between Sleeping Beauty's Castle and the front of Main Street.

Disneyland Railroad--Although the Disneyland Railroad connects to all areas of the park, the main station is located just inside Main Street.  If you're looking for an easy way to get around the park, this is a fun experience to see so many attractions that you might miss.  And there's nothing quite like hearing the conductor make the final boarding call.

Main Street Cinema--This small cinema plays original shorts, including SteamBoat Willie, on six screens with musical accompaniment.  These shorts are changed from time to time and a fun way to introduce your children to the original Disney.

Disneyland's City Hall--  City Hall is located directly on your left when you first enter Disneyland.  Make this your first stop.  Inside you can pick up a variety of commemorative buttons for those in your party, ranging from 1st Visit to Honeymoon to Here to Celebrate.    This is also a great place to pick up Disneyland information and the kids can even pick up a call from one of their favorite characters.

The Penny Arcade--My thought is skip the arcade, but definitely check out the penny pressing machines.  Although you can find penny pressing machines throughout the park, this is the biggest variety located in one area.  We love to collect these as a fun, unique souvenir.

Lowering of the Flag--Every night around 5 pm, the Dapper Dans come out to sing patriotic songs as Main Street's flag is retired for the evening.  This is one of those events that speaks to Main Street's respect for the past and a sense of Hometown, America.

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Names on the windows--A fun fact about Main Street is found in the decor.  If you look at the "shop windows", you'll find that many of the names are of those who were instrumental in Disney's developement.  This is a unique and special way that they've been honored.

Walt's apartment--Walt Disney had his own special apartment on the second floor of the Fire Station.  It is still occasionally used for special guests.

Breakfast in the park--The Blue Ribbon Bakery is a must stop when you go to Disney.  Even if you're not purchasing, you have to go in and see the incredible variety of baked goods and treats, including carmel apples in the shape of your favorite character.  But believe me, you won't be able to check out this bakery without buying something.  The smell will take you away.

My current favorite lunch--Currently my favorite place to eat in Disneyland is the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe.  This cafe is so much more than a bakery.  The menu also includes a nice selection of soup, salads and sandwiches which are very refreshing after a day of pizza and quick snacks.

What's your favorite part of Main Street?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

5 Tips to Make School Mornings Run Smoother

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* This post was originally posted on 8/26/10

It's going to be 108 degrees today and Noah's already been in school a week and a half.  A week and a half!  Can you believe how quickly school starts!  My mind is still reeling that I actually have a kindergartener.  How did we ever get to this place?

As kids are gearing up to start school all over the country, I thought I'd share with you just a few little tips that have gotten us through so far.  I'm sure as time goes on this list will grow, but for now, here are my top five tips for getting through the mornings:

1. Prepare what you can the night before:
Everything you can!  Right now, I'm packing snacks and lunches the night before, the kids pick their clothes out and lay them on the couch, and shoes get laid out as well.  Homework, workbooks, and library books all get rounded up and put in the backpack.  Anything that has to be signed is done and packed the night before.  Do what you can the night before and it will stretch that limited time in the mornings.

2. Start with a full stomach:
I know some mom's require their kids to be dressed before breakfast.  Just the opposite works for me.  If my kid is hungry, the whole world is falling apart.  Starting with a quick hearty breakfast puts everyone in a better mood.  We made quick breakfasts around here:  eggs and toast, yogurt and fruit, leftover pancakes from the freezer, or oatmeal.  Quick, fast, and lasting.  Puts us all in a better position to listen and follow Mama's directions.

3. Create a chart:
We created a chart last spring.  There were six items on the chart: turn off night light, eat breakfast and clean up, get dressed, put away jammies, brush teeth, put on shoes.  We put a picture next to each one so that our non-reader still knew what needed to be done in the morning.  It also puts more responsibility on your kids to get ready in the morning.  If they ask what needs to be done, ask them if they've checked their chart.

4. Play some music:
Music in the morning is calming for me and my kids.  Music can be used to create so many moods.  Often I'll start the morning with something calm as they're first getting up.  But then we pick up the tempo after breakfast.  It keeps everyone moving and generally keeps us from grumbling with each other.

5. Limit screen time:
Most mornings the TV and computer are off limits.  But on occasion I'll allow a little screen time.  However, everyone needs to be up, dressed, and ready to head out the door.  If we have a few minutes still, I'll consider something extra.  This teaches your kids that their responsibilities have to be taken care of first, then comes the reward.  If someone's moving their feet slowly in the morning, Mommy's not going to reward that behavior.  Sometimes we have to do the hard stuff before the fun stuff comes.

These are just a few of the things that help us get out the door in the morning.  Some days are good are some aren't so good; we're still a work in progress.

Do you have an special tricks for getting ready on a school morning?

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