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Showing posts from May, 2008

Smiles Tucked in an Envelope

My mother-in-law is incredibly thoughtful and generous. She loves to give gifts and send cards. When my mom was having heart surgery this winter, she sent my mom a card. But tucked inside the card was a Yankee Candle Car Jar (a yummy smelling car air freshener). It was such a warm way to say "I care" and send a little breath of happiness from miles away.

Then my friend Jennie was in the hospital having complications with her newborn baby Micah (who is still really struggling, so you can pray for them). She was staying in the Ronald McDonald House an hour away from home, so gifts posed a bit of a challenge. But Peggy sent her a card with a Yankee Car Candle.

I love the idea! Because it's lightweight and flat, it's very inexpensive to mail, yet it's a great happy gift. Who doesn't feel better when they smell something so yummy? And the candles last for a few months, so the recipient can continue to remember your loving thoughts over the next few weeks.

Kids Cooking Camp

We signed up for the free Kids Cooking Camp last summer, and we were so impressed! Debbie Madson does a great job of combining creativity, education, health and fun in the kitchen through her clever recipes and menus.

If you have older kids, you can follow her Dinner Club menus that help your children prepare a meal for others. If you have younger kids, this summer's focus is cooking and reading, so Debbie will be sending book titles and a recipes that correspond with the books.

It's free, and it's only one weekly email for 8 weeks. I think you'll love the ideas!

Budding Gastroenterologist

We were sitting at the dinner table tonight, encouraging our 3 yr old to eat his food. We've been reminding him to eat his food so he'll grow big and tall. All the sudden he pops up and says, "I put it in my mouth, it goes down my throat, into my tummy, then comes out my privates." Gramma doubled over laughing, trying hard not to spit out any food. Then a few minutes later, he says, "Food goes down my throat into my belly, then it turns into pee pee or poopy." All at the dinner table!!!

Kid's Radio Show

I love Adventures in Odyssey, a Christian radio show that teaches Bible stories through kids taking adventures back in time. They are so clever, and so easy to follow.

They are written for 8-12 year olds, but we started listening to them in the car when my oldest son was almost 4. We borrowed disc sets at the library for trips, and he would listen for an hour at a time. The character-based series seemed a little too old for him at the time, but the Bible stories are great even for little bits.

Flipping through the free Focus on the Family magazine, I noticed an article on Whit's End. It's the Adventures in Odyssey website. It has a listing of radio program times, games for kids (the ones we played were too hard for my 6yr old), and printable activities.

But I was most excited to see that you can listen free to recent broadcasts online! We listened to one show the other day, and my son has already asked twice to listen again.

I LOVE current media that teaches Bible truths!

Children's Book Series - part 4

These are children's books have been recommended for grades 3-4. Are your favorites on the list? I hope you'll add your ideas, so we can share them with other moms, teachers and after-school workers!

Abel’s Island by William Steig
All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
Treasure Island
Black Beauty
Where the Red Fern Grows
Secret Garden
Anne of Green Gables
Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard
Bunnicula by James Howe
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Dominic by William Steig
Frecklejuice
Half Magic by Edward Eager
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry
Lassie, Come Home by Eric Knight
Magic Schoolbus
Peter Pan by James M. Barrie
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
Sounder
Stuart Little by E.B. White
Tales of a Fourth Grad…

John Piper is the Best

My DH just posted a great John Piper sermon titled ""Let No One Despise You For Your Youth". It's a great sermon for parents and teens to read. You'll enjoy the 10 minutes raed - Piper's content and style are so reader-friendly, so challenging and so inspirational.

Children's Book Series - part 3

These are book series that have been recommended for grades 3-4. Some are childhood favorites, and some I hope to read with my son this summer.

Do you have favorite book series that promote good values (respect, responsibility, fairness, kindness, and all those good things)?

A to Z Mysteries by Rony Roy
Amber Brown by Paula Danzier
A Wrinkle in Time
Encyclopedia Brown
Stanley books
Grandma's Attic by Arleta Richardson
Hardy Boys
Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park
Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Mr. Putter and Tabby by Cynthia Rylant
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle
Nancy Drew
Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary
Terhune’s dog books
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
The High-Rise Private Eyes by Cynthia Rylant
The Magic Treehouse by Mary Pope Osborne
The Time Warp Trio by Jon Scieszka
The Red Wall books by Brian Jacques

P.S. If I have any of these books in the wrong age categories, please let me know! Since I haven't read all of them (yet!), I'd really appreciate your feedback before…

Children's Book Series - part 2

Here is a list of books (non-series books) for children in grades K-2 that promote healthy child development. Of course there are hundreds of books that could be on the list, but these are some of my favorites & some new books that come highly recommended. I loved reading your comments yesterday - do you have favorite books to add to this list?

A dog on Barkhum Street
Alvin’s Secret Code
Carolyn Haywood books
Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff
Danny Dunn
Dog breath
Follow my leader
George and Diggety by Maggie Stern
Great Brain Books
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Henry Reed
Homer price
Iris and Walter by Elissa Haden Guest
Little Britches by Ralph Moody
Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee Burton
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
Stephen kellogg
Tal, his wonderful adventures w/ noom-zor-noom
The Animal Family by Randall Jarrell
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
The Magic Locket by Elizabeth Koda-Callan
The Shrinking of Treehorn by Florence Parry
Heidi
The Westing G…

Family Life Management - a book suggestion

My friend Angie is reading a book called "Managers of Their Home" by Teri Maxwell, a mother of 8. Based on her suggestion, I can't wait to read it. She says, "It is geared more toward homeschoolers but anyone with children at home can implement her scheduling plan. I am over half way through the book and am loving it. I desire to be more organized, need to be more organized and she is giving awesome tips as to how to get that way.

Her chapter on discipline suggests writing out a list of your child's worst offenses and then coming up with a discipline for each and making an "if/then" chart. That way when the child doesn't do what is asked of them you don't have to get angry and lose your temper because you have asked/nagged 5-10 times and it still isn't done. You ask one time and then they get whatever the preset discipline is that is on the chart. It seems so simple and practical.

She has another book, "Homeschooling with a Me…

Children's Book Series

I'm doing some research on favorite children's book series. I'm building the collection for our families, for friends (blogging friends too!) and our local libraries. I'm focusing on books that promote healthy child development.

This is the collection I've built for grades K-2. Depending on the reading level of the children, the books can be read alone, read together, or read aloud.

Amanda Pig by Jean Van Leeuwen
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
Arthur by Lillian Hoban
Diary Books (Worm, Spider…) by Doreen Cronin and Harry Bliss
Frances books by Russell Hoban
FranklinFrog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
George and Martha by James Marshall
Henry & Mudge by Cynthia Rylant
Horrible Harry by Suzy Kline
Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik
Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
Paddington by Michael Bond
Poppleton by Cynthia Rylant

Do you have other favorites that didn't make our list?

Lost Game Pieces

Well, you probably never lose game pieces in your house, so this might not apply to your family. But in our house, it sometimes happens.

The good news is that you don't have to throw away the game. Just create new tokens. I bought a Candy Land game from Goodwill a few years ago. The little character tokens are a little bit bent, so they're difficult to use. So instead we use little tiny cars. Or army men, or fruit loops, or whatever little things we can find to identify the players.

If you're missing a spinning board (like Candyland), just subsitute dice from another game.

And in order to avoid the need for substitutions, I've found that it's best to keep little game pieces in a plastic ziplock bag inside the game box. Then even if the game gets knocked over, or toddler hands explore inside, the game pieces stay together.

Happy Game Night!

ann

Win an Ice Cream Party

If you want to win an ice cream party for your neighborhood, all you have to do is write a short essay about why YOUR neighborhood deserves the party. Edy's ice cream will give away 1500 parties this summer.

We were one of the lucky winners last year, and it was so much fun to host a party for our neighborhood. It was so easy to coordinate and Edy's provided everything we needed for the party.

What do you have to lose? Click here to learn more.

If you win, I hope you'll let me know!

On the Cheap

I have learned so much about Nashville frugality by reading Ms. Cheap from the Tennessean. Here is a summary of the questions she is asked most frequently. If you live in middle Tennessee, you need to peruse this article! Here are some of my favorites from her list:

Where can you get low-cost haircuts, pedicures, manicures, facials and other services?
Where can you get a cheap massage?
Where can you get cheap mulch?
Where can you get lower-cost dental services?
Ms. Cheap do you have a list of all of the thrift stores in our area?

If you don't live in middle Tennessee, check with your local paper to see if there is a "Ms. Cheap" writer on their staff. You never know what you'll learn!

Tummy Bugs

Oh, the tummy bug seems to continue on and on sometimes. Our little bits are no longer contagious (they haven't had a fever in over a week), but they're still having yucky poops! For my 20month old daughter, she's having 4-5 poops a day. Shoo-wee!

So we've been doing lots of hand-washing, lots of disinfecting and lots of diaper changing. The doctor reminded me of a couple of things yesterday, that might help you in the case of tummy bugs.

1. Do not give kids adult pepto-bismal, because it has an aspirin base. You need to buy the children's pepto-bismal.
2. Use desitin (or another diaper cream) to prevent diaper rash during tummy bugs, even if your baby isn't prone to diaper rash.
3. If your baby starts to develop diaper rash, consider letting them run around diaper-less for a little while, to let more air get to their little tushies and promote healing.
4. And pray for the poop to stop a little!!!

The blessing in our family - our school age son did NOT get…

Ouchies

It's so hard to watch our little ones get ouchies. I wish mommy's kiss would really take away the stings! My 3yr old just fell down, and bit his lip. I always fear what bloody mouths might contain, so I was grateful to see just a bloodly lip.

So our solution for bloody lips (when they're not bad bloodly lips) is freeze pops. They're cold, so they help with the bleeding/swelling, and they're yummy, so they help kiddos forget about the ouchies.

So if it's warm and your kiddo has an ouchie, head outside with a freeze pop and it should stop any crying!

Consignment Shopping

Consignment stores and sales rock!! Combined with careful thrift shopping, this is the key to dressing multiple kiddos without breaking the bank.

Ask your mommy friends about great stores and sales in your area. Or if you're lucky, you have a local consignment magazine, like ours in middle Tennessee, that spotlights events and resources. The magazines may also have handy dandy articles for thrifty families that are looking for deals in shopping, entertainment, restaurants and outings.
Bad Mommy Day
turns into
Great Mother's Day Gift

I had a bad mommy day today (we all have them, right?). The kids have been sick (cough, cold & tummy), so we've been cooped up in the house all week. I get a little stir-crazy if I don't get out of the house once a day. My normal daily habit is to hit the YMCA most mornings where I get a good workout and a break from the kids for a bit while they play with other kids. Sick kids = none of the above. :(

It's not a good sign when you change 2 gross diapers before 8:30am. Then clean up a super-stinky poopy accident all over the bathroom. Then try to handle a couple of stressful work tasks. Then clean up eggs that your sweet son cracked all over your freshly mopped floor. All the while listening to my ususally tender-hearted son practice 3yr old SASS!

I called my mom at 11am to ask for prayer. I was feeling really down-trodden, discouraged and worn out. She was great to encourage me, first affirming that I'm not a bad …
Ice Cream!

I finished reading through the draft of my new book today. Whew! Hooray!

I dished out some ice cream as an evening treat. As I was scooping, I thought of a tip to share with you. We always eat our ice cream in coffee mugs. I know it sounds strange, but it's the perfect portion size and it still feels like a full serving. It's way too tempting to get a double portion if you eat out of a cereal bowl!

I still remember when I first saw someone eat ice cream out of a coffee mug. I was babysitting for family friends for a weekend in college. The girls dished out ice cream to share - in a mug - and I laughed out loud! Now I've been following in their footsteps for over a decade!

But I will confess. If I'm r-e-a-l-l-y craving sugar, I've been known to go back for a second helping. Thankfully, though, that's a rare occasion!
My Next Book

My next book is titled Ready to Go Service Projects: 140 Ways for Youth Groups to Lend a Hand. I wrote it with my co-author Susan Ragsdale - the same friend/colleague with whom I wrote my first book - Great Group Games: 175 Boredom-Busting, Zero-Prep Team Builders for All Ages.

Susan & I just received our draft copies of the book, so we're busy editing this week. It's so cool to see it in print! It's been such a treat to write this book, as it culminates my professional experience in service-learning with my faith.

So I'm currently proofing page 111 out of 200 pages. I hope to finish it before this weekend, but it's quite a daunting task. So if I'm a little quiet on the blog this week, it's because I'm editing. If I'm vocal on the blog this week, it's because I'm procrastinating!

Off to read some more...
Disaster Relief in Myanmar

This note is from my friend Bill, a missionary doctor in Myanmar (formerly named Burma). I thought you would appreciate reading their requests for prayer and support after the cyclone in Myanmar. If you know of friends and churches that want to reach out to people hurting after their disasters, this a powerful and trustworthy christian organization. If you have older children, this would be a great group to study, then pray for. If you'd like to make a donation, it's easy to donate via credit card on their secure website. I've been following their work for about 7 years, and I'm really impressed with their ministry.

---

Dear Friends,

As if things couldn't get any worse for Myanmar, the country was
struck by a powerful cyclone yesterday. In the words of one witness,
"The whole of Rangoon has been devastated. I have never seen anything
like this in my life".

This disaster is worse than hurricane Katrina because Myanmar has no
reserves, …
Decorating Birthday Cakes

Nope, this isn't a cake decorating tutorial! It's just a simple idea, based on the cake my friend Mary made for her son's last birthday. He's very into 'flying things' right now, so she bought some little tiny toys at the dollar store to put on top of his iced cake. So he had a yummy cake with yummy icing - then the hot air balloon, helicopter, airplane and other toys made it extra cool to fit the birthday theme of flying things. He loved it!

You can do this with anything that's plastic and easy to clean - characters, trains, cars, legos, blocks - whatever your child loves. Just sanitize the toys before and after caketime!!
Too Good to be True?

Have you heard of ArtsCow.com? I just discovered this great deal, but I've never heard of the company before. It's hard to pass up 400 free prints distributed throughout the year and a free photo book! I just ordered pics from Snapfish, but I might be trying this company after Gramma & Papa visit next month!
Perspectives

A journal reflection from my friend Mikkee



"Leave her alone," said Jesus. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could."
Mark 14:6-8

This past month has gone by in a whirl: wrapping up the Ireland trip, preparing for Peru and Vacation Bible School. We hosted an Art Benefit, 2 lunches and said goodbye to a dear friend and new missionary apprentice to Ireland. It all seemed to culminate this past Friday on the day of the Art Benefit. I woke up at 4 am with my mind racing. An hour later, I was driving out to a friend's house to care for her 3 animals. I took the 2 dogs for a walk, and right before we made it home, 1 of the dogs somehow managed to escape her collar. For the ensuing 10 minutes my heart didn't beat, until my flying tackle had me securely reclamping the collar. Then, as I was driving…
Family Fun Jar

I thought you would love this family fun idea from my friend Shannon:

For several years, our family has done a summer "Fun Jar" where we put activities that we want to do over the summer into a jar and draw them out weekly to choose that week's fun. After we draw the week's activity, we e-mail friends to let them know of the upcoming event. We have found this is a great way to see friends throughout the summer (and it keeps me accountable to make sure I build enough "fun" into our summer!).

Here are the activities that the girls and I have come up with so far:

Cheekwood
Picnic and swimming at the lake
Frist Center
Bicentennial Mall
Sprayground
Warner Nature Center Event
Free Movie at Regal or Franklin
Centennial park picnic, playground, feeding ducks
Shelby Bottoms walk & picnic
Sevier Park playtime with trip to Las Paletas
Zoo
Discovery Center
Blueberry picking
Making the Most of Your Check

MoneySavingMethods just posted a great article about using the economic stimulus deals at Kroger, Sears and Kmart. I'm thrilled to hear that you can use credit cards to get extra bang for your buck! She also lists stores in the Kroger family that are also giving the 10% deal.

I know, you'll probably shoot me for using a credit card, Dave Ramsey friends! But we pay it off every month and earn an extra 3% on all of our purchases. We also use the credit card software to easily track our expenses. So if you can be disciplined, keep using that card! If it's a stumbling block to you, cut it up!
Pics!

Two good deals on pictures this week:

Snapfish: 50 FREE Prints + Free Flipbook for New Customers through 5/31. You can also get free shipping on the flipbook by using the code NOSHIP08 at checkout (through 5/11). You can also sign up to be a new customer by using various email addresses.

Walgreens: you can get a free 8 x 10 at Walgreens.com on Wednesday, May 7th. You can pick up your free photo at your convenience from your favorite Walgreens location. Use promo code 4MOM. (tip from More than Enough)
Multi-tasking Mishaps

My husband sent this For Better or For Worse comic strip to me, because I'm forever making fun of his inability to multitask on the computer. He'll answer yes/no to questions all the time, without realizing what he's saying.

Me? Of course I never make mistakes like that! Mommies are perfect multitaskers, right?

:)
Finding Good Kids Books

We have a fantastic library system, but sometimes I'm overwhelmed when I see the huge selection of books for children. Where should I start? What books are high quality? What books are appropriate for which age groups? I often flip through the pages to answer these questions on my own, but it's difficult to keep track of 3 kiddos and search through library books at the same time.

My friend Shannon just gave me a solution - she found a great website for finding good children's books. KidsReads.com lists children's classics for beginner, intermediate and advanced readers. Scanning the list for beginning readers, I found familiar characters, such as Frog & Toad, Frances, Paddington, Amelia Bedelia, George & Martha, and Henry & Mudge. If you're unfamiliar with the books they list, you can look at the reader's reviews to determine if it's a good match for your family. What a great resource!! I can't wait to explore some of t…
Skiing Vacation Tip

My sister is watching our kiddos this weekend, so we can be on an anniversary trip in Denver. I'm leading a Great Group Games workshop today, so we tacked an extra day onto our trip to go skiing yesterday in Arapahoe Basin. It snowed all day, and the powder skiing was fantastic. Freezing - we had to splurge on face masks - but absolutely beautiful!

When I googled to look for discount ski tickets, I discovered a site called Liftopia. They offer tickets at 40% off the regular price. There is a no cancellation policy, so it's a bit of a gamble, but we were able to make our reservations 12 hours before skiing. So instead of 49.99 lift tickets, we got to ski all day for 29.99. And we definitely got our money out of it!

We both have bad knees, so we were a little bit hesitant about injury, but the biggest casualty was my bruised (badly bruised - ouch!) big toe from falling off the ski lift on my first run. I hate falling! And can you believe I jammed my toe…
No More Holey Jeans!

Janel just posted on Frugal Hacks about a great sale at Sears. She says, "Most of their remaining winter clothing is 75% off the already discounted price of 60% off. That’s my kind of sale: picking up good quality new pieces for about 10-12% of the original price."

But there's more good news. Sears offers a great program called KidVantage. If clothing bought at Sears wears out before your child grows out of the clothes, they will replace the clothing for free. This means if those jeans get a hole in the knee (maybe that never happens at your house!), you can take them to the store to exchange for a new pair. The only catch is that you need to have your receipt and you need to register in the store for the KidVantage program. Then they'll replace the clothing item for the exact item or a similar item in the same size.

They also offer another KidVantage perk. According to the Sears website, "Every time you spend $100 on kids / infant cloth…