Friday, September 30, 2016

2016 September Bookmarks

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*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 September was The Mentoring Mom by Jackie Kendall.

These are the books I read this month:

Growing up Brave by Donna B. Pincus--  I picked up this book on a whim just to see if there were any helpful ideas.  This book ended being even more than I bargained for.  Growing Up Brave is full of thoughts and strategies for helping your kids venture out of their comfort zone.  I found this book VERY helpful.  We've been slowly incorporating a few ideas into our everyday life and have seen HUGE strides in encouraging our kids.  This book isn't about creating outgoing kids, but rather giving all children (introvert and extrovert) the courage to speak up and thrive.   Best book of it's kind that I've read.

What We Read with the Kids:

The BFG by Roald Dahl--  The kids have been wanting to watch the BFG movie so we read the book first.  This book is so funny and ended up being a hit with all three kids which gives it a big thumbs up from mom!

Our suggested reading for September was The Mentoring Mom by Jackie Kendall--  This book came at a time when I really needed to read it.  As my son is moving into his pre-teen years, the way we relate to each other is changing.  He's thinking through things differently and the way we communicate has to evolve as well.  The Mentoring Mom takes the reader through 11 ways we can "stamp" our children's lives.  Having read this earlier in my parenting journey, I'm finding it much more applicable and helpful at this stage.  Great read for mother's of pre-teens and teenagers.

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 The Mentoring Mom by Jackie Kendall

And come back October 28th as we discuss Hope for the Weary Mom by Stacy Thacker and Brooke McGlothlin.

*Linked to these Parties

Monday, September 26, 2016

2016 Fall To Do List

*Celebrate Noah's 11th Birthday
*Go to the Pumpkin Patch
*Scrapbook last year's school photos
*Carve pumpkins
*Toast pumpkin seeds
*Create Halloween costumes
*Try a new pumpkin muffin recipe
*Plan ahead for Christmas
*Plan ahead for Lydia's birthday
*Attend lots of Fall Ball games
*Go to a Harvest Festival
*Take the kids' annual photos
*Decorate my front porch
*Make apple cider in the crockpot
*Watch the stars come out
*Go on a couple of picnics
*Attend a couple of field trips
*Try 2-3 new pumpkin recipes

What are your goals for the fall?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made:  Give me a high five!  We finished Josiah's thank you cards already.  And believe me, that's a feat when you realize you're working with a 5 year old.  I also got Noah's birthday invitations finished and worked on a shadowbox.

What I'm Reading:  I'm working on Mentoring Mom and All Joy and No Fun.  I'd heard a few things about the second one and I'm finding it very insightful into parenthood.  Sad, happy, ... so many emotions.

What I'm Doing:  This week we're in the full swing of fall... swim, dance, baseball, school, selling a few things on Facebook.  

What I'm Watching:  I love Wednesday nights on ABC and the fall shows are returning.  I was pleasantly surprised by Speechless.  Not appropriate for kids under 13, but very funny, especially for those of us involved in special ed, social work.

What I'm Enjoying:  Organic, farm apples... apple cider... middle school physics... 

What are you up to?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Saving Money on Food at Disneyland

*This post was originally published on 2/3/14.  Enjoy!

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We are a Disneyland crazy family.  There's just something about a singing and dancing mouse that gives us warm fuzzies.  Yeah, now that I put it in writing, it sounds a little crazy to me too.  Anyways...

Luckily for us, our extended family is just as crazy about that mouse as we are.  That's made for some really fun family vacations.  As we're gearing up again to go later this spring, I'm thinking more and more about how to save money and still enjoy ourselves.  Especially with these three bottom-less pits I call my children.  :-)

When it comes to saving money on food at Disneyland, these are a few tips and tricks that have served us well:

*Look to stay at a hotel that serves breakfast (or eat before the park)-- Many hotels in the area serve a continental breakfast.  Start out your day on budget by saving money in this area.  If your hotel does not serve breakfast, make a run to a local supermarket the night before and stock up on granola, yogurt, fruit, and other quick items to serve for breakfast.

*Pack a soft sided cooler-- While you cannot carry in a hard sided cooler or glass containers, Disneyland does allow soft sided coolers.  If we have an extra set of hands, we might pack a small cooler with an ice pack.  I can throw in hard boiled eggs, string cheese, go-gurts, packaged dips, etc.  

*Packing quick snacks-- Even if I'm not packing a soft sided cooler, I pack a ton of snacks in a backpack.  Pretzels, fruit, dried fruit, veggies, granola, bars, etc. are easily thrown in and ready to avoid a meltdown.  Not only will these handy snacks save you a ton of money, they're also great for when you're stuck in line.  I can't tell you how many times my kids have said their hungry right in the middle of the longest line in the park.  Luckily I almost always have something quick and easy with me.

*Drinks-- We're a big water drinking family, but the price of bottled water is outrageous.  So we carry our water bottles.  We fill them up with ice before leaving the hotel in the morning and a few hours later, it's melted nicely to drink.  Most restaurants in Disneyland will refill them free of charge throughout the day.  Additionally, you can always refill with filtered water in either of the baby stations found in both Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure.  On the rare occasion that we do drink something other than water, the kids know that it's a treat and sodas will not be bought at every meal.

*Snacks are overpriced-- I know.  I'm supposed to be giving you ideas on how to save money.  But walking into the day knowing that you will spend more than usual can actually be reassuring.  If I walk into my day not allowing any room for splurging, I get a little grouchy.  So know your limit.  It is one special snack a day or two?  A certainly snack allotment for the trip?  Or a special family treat at dinner?  Know that it will be somewhat pricey and PLAN when you're going to spend that money.  (for us, it's always a Dole Whip and a cinnamon roll)

*Check out menus before hand-- I try to grab means from the restaurants as we walk through Main Street first thing in the morning.  This gives me a chance to check out the selection and prices before we're all hungry and clamoring for food.  It's a lot easier to plan when the kids are happy rather than hungry.  My husband and I will skim what we feel is nutritionally acceptable (if there is such a word at Disneyland) and within our budget.  Then as we're walking to the restaurant later, we can tell that kids what their choices are within that.  Often times, we've also found items that can be shared between parent and kids or between two kids. This has saved us a ton.  Many of the menus can be viewed on Disneyland's website as well.

*Look for items you can split-- I touched on this already, but many of the restaurants have meals that are easily large enough to split.  My husband and I split a soup and sandwich at the Jolly Holiday and still count it as one of our favorite meals.  Rancho Zocalo have great items for splitting and an order of clam chowder in a bread bowl can easily fill two people.

*Food offsite is expensive too-- Know that food outside of the park is expensive too.  So if you're trying to save money by leaving for meals, it's probably going to cost more when you factor in lost park time and travel.  For us, it hasn't been worth the hassle.

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So what are your splurges?
And what are your tricks for saving money on food?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Homemade Dancing Ribbons {Frugal Gift Idea}

I love the preschool years.  They're so full of discovery and excitement.  Every day's a new adventure!

And as part of that adventure, my preschoolers have always loved music.  Learning to move their bodies to the beat and dance around the room has been a favorite activity for getting their wiggles out, often exploring into a case of the giggles.

So we've always had a set of these dance ribbons in our home and when my niece had a birthday, I had to make her a set too.  They're frugal, functional, and so much fun.

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Here's what you'll need:
*Set of shower curtain rings (Dollar Tree has several colors)
*Lots of ribbon (Dollar Tree or partial rolls on clearance)
*Hot glue gun

These are so simple; it's ridiculous. 

*Measure your ribbon to your desired length.  I measured from about where my kid held their hands to just above the floor. 

*Now double the length, adding a bit more for your loop.  Cut.  

* Loop your ribbon over the curtain ring.  My ribbon kept wanting to slip.  So I hot glued the loop into place.

* After the glue dries on your ribbon dries, hot glue the opening on the curtain rings as well.  This will keep the ring shut and keep the clasp from pinching little fingers.


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These have made a great addition to music time and my kids love playing with them.  Plus they're a great gift for any preschooler who loves to dance.  

How do you encourage music and movement in your home?

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made:  Finally finished up all the games and decorations for this party.  Yeah!  It's gonna be a fun one.  And I finished the title scrapbook page for Josiah's one year album.

What I'm Reading:  I'm reading the book for the month's book club: The Mentoring Mom.  Each chapter is a quick read and full of great ideas.

What I'm Doing:  We're hosting family this weekend and throwing a birthday party.  It warmed up today so I'm trying to beat the heat as well.  :-)

What I'm Watching:   Lots of baseball... watched the finale of Master Chef this week (and picked the winner!)...  

What I'm Enjoying:  cantaloupe... dice math... poetry... memorizing Scripture with my kids...

What are you up to?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Happy 5th Birthday, Josiah!

Happy 5th Birthday, My Dear Sweet Boy!

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Field Trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park (Sept 2015)

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Oct 2015

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First Year of Little League (March 2016)

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Last Day of Preschool (May 2016)

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With Grandma in Lake Tahoe (June 2016)

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Eating a Chicken Leg (4th of July 2016)

Friday, September 9, 2016

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made: I made a game and worked on the piƱata for Josiah's party, scrapbooked some baby photos and school photos, and tried a couple of new recipes.  I can't believe how quickly this party is coming up!

What I'm Reading:  I have another homeschool book on my nightstand while I wait for my next review book.  I love all the information out there, but sometimes it can be difficult to shift through it all and really decide what works best for us.

What I'm Doing:  We've got a couple of things we want to do today... go to the Farmer's Market... go to a physics workshop... maybe do some hiking... ride bikes...   

What I'm Watching:   Giant's baseball... swim practice... King of Queens...  

What I'm Enjoying:   watermelon... cooler evenings... hands-on science... 

What are you up to?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Teaching Your Child How to Treat Books

We are a small house with big readers.  All three of my kids started reading at four years old, and of all our homeschooling accomplishments, giving them a love for reading ranks as #1 in my eyes.  But between the public library, the school library, and our own personal library, there are literally hundreds of books in our home at one time and with the privilege of reading so many books, comes the responsibility of caring for them.  So how do you teach your little ones, and your big ones, to care for all these books?  I've compiled 5 tips to get you started in teaching your child how to treat books.

1. Picking Age Appropriate Books-- Just as you wouldn't give a child a butcher knife, so you're also not going to hand a 2 year old a first edition Velveteen Rabbit.  The goal is to cultivate a love of reading.  So fill your home with chunky board books in a variety of subjects, both fiction and non-fiction.  Make them accessible and allow your child to "read" on his own initiative, free from the worry of tearing pages.

For older children, verse yourself in the classics.  Fill your home with Treasure Island, Peter Pan, and Pollyanna.  Look for stories that have stood the test of time.  Introduce well-rounded, beloved characters and thoughtful story lines.  A loved book is more likely to be treated with care.

2. Everything in it's place--As I've said before, our house is small.  But we've always found room for books.  Still having a home for all these books is important.  Children can't be expected to take care of books that don't have a place.  So in our home, we have three bookshelves, one in each kids' room and one in the living room.  Beyond that, we have a designated shelf in the entertainment center for library books and heavy canvas bags for transporting borrowed books back and forth.  All library or borrowed books stay in common living areas and are put back on the shelf after use.  We talk to our kids about the privilege of borrowing other people's books and how important it is to return them in good shape.

3. Keep pencils, markers, stickers, and more, out of reach--Little ones look at books and they see paper.  What fun it would be to fill all that paper with their own illustrations and stories!  So pencils and markers (as well as stickers, scissors, crayons, etc) are kept well out of reach and only used with mom's supervision.  We talk about how books contain someone else's stories, and if my little one wants to write a book, he can write on some of mom's copy paper.

4. Valuing the old as well as the new--I personally have a love for older books.  Not only are the story lines often rich, but I like to imagine the many people who have loved and enjoyed that book through the years. Maybe that's why I'm enchanted by used book stores.  Not only are there new stories to discover, but there are notes inside covers, dates and dedications written between family members, and even more history than the book can ever tell.  So we take our kids to used book stores, book sales, yard sales, and search out these treasures.  They've learned that whether a cover is worn or the pages are yellowing, there's still a whole world to discover.  And sometimes that makes them even more valuable.

5. Let them see you read--The more my kids see me reading, the more they realize what a privilege it is.  What we model for them is often times what they become.  So when it's reading time for the kids, I do my best to read as well.  We talk about the stories we're reading and the books we would or wouldn't recommend.  And we also talk about using a good bookmark, how to place a book on the shelf so the pages won't fold, reading books with clean hands, and more.  And by them seeing me reading, they realize that I'm following my own advice and take it to heart.

Wherever life may take them, I hope that my children will take a love of reading with them.  And when they outgrow a book, I feel confident they will leave it behind in good shape for the next reader.

How do you teach about/organize books in your home?
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