Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Book of the Day

Wednesday's book of the day is...

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Always a favorite story about an imaginative toddler's adventure.

Activity #1 Take a walk around your neighborhood and discuss what you see.

Activity #2 Discuss the color purple throughout the day. Point it out in items around the house. Have your little one use their imagination to draw a picture with a purple crayon on black paper.

Activity #3 Show your little one how red and blue mix to make purple using paint.


Works-For-Me Wednesday

Do you have trouble getting any kind of paperwork done with little ones climbing up your into your lap and trying to steal your pen? Well, I do. So I came up with this solution that has worked great in our house. I give my daughter her own important paperwork to fill out. I save a small amount of junk mail when it arrives (everyday, ugh!) and then I address it to my daughter and put it in my inbox. When it is time for me to attack my pile, I let my daughter fill out all her junk mail forms at the table next to me! I give her a special pen like mine. It works great, she feels important, and I love the serious look on her face that she gets trying to fill out the papers with her scribbles. So cute!
Head over to Rocks in my Dryer for tons of great tips!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Yet onto another week of meals for a meat freak, vegetarian, and a picky toddler. Never a dull moment figuring out how to simplify this puzzle.

So this is the game plan:

Breakfasts ideas are just for greenbean and I so we will have green smoothies, waffles, oatmeal, and tofu scramble. I have become slightly addicted to green smoothies. So simple and delicious, yet packed with nutrition. Best part is greenbean LOVES them too. This might sound nerdy, but I get a huge sense of joy as I watch her down a big glass of greens with a smile on her face.

Green smoothie recipe: In a blender I add: 1 banana, big handful of baby spinach or kale leaves, orange juice, frozen blueberries, flaxseed oil, and ice. Blend until smooth and add more liquid/ice until desired thickness. May add agave nectar or stevia to sweeten if needed.

Lunches will be boring and easy with sandwiches, salads, soups, leftovers.

Dinners are going to be easier this week because it will just be greenbean and I until Thursday.

Monday- Vegetable soup (see my book of the day post).

Tuesday- BLT's with potato salad. I use this bacon and greenbean likes it too.

Wednesday- Rice and lentils with broccoli. Add chicken nuggets for greenbean.

Thursday- Veggie chili with cornbread that did not get made last week. I will add ground beef at the end to my husband's portion.

Friday- Homemade pizza. Toppings for my portion are black olives and pineapple. Husband will have pepperoni and sausage.

Saturday- Veggie burger for me, regular burger for husband, and chicken nuggets for greenbean. Served with cold green bean salad.

Sunday- Leftovers from the week, hopefully.

Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie every Monday for more menu plans and ideas!


Book of the Day

Monday's book of the day is...

Vegetable Soup by Judy Freudberg and Tony Geiss
I still have this book from when I was younger, and greenbean has enjoyed it as much as I did back then. Sesame Street characters are always lovable, and it is a great way to sneak in a little nutrition lesson while having fun.
Activity #1 Plan a grocery trip for this day. Take plenty of time going through the produce section and pointing out food from the book and discussing them. I even let greenbean bring the book which keeps her busy while shopping for the rest of the list.
Activity #2 Make vegetable soup with your little one. This recipe is our favorite.
Activity #3 Make potato stamps like these. Greenbean has fun halping me make them and even more using them to create artwork.
Hope you have a great day with your little ones!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Book of the Day

Friday's Book of the day is...

Curious George goes to an Ice Cream Shop by H. A. Rey.

This book goes along with Chocolate Milkshake Day. I could not resist. Curious George books are a great series of books which we all enjoy.

Activity #1 Make homemade ice cream. Either use an ice cream maker if you have one or try this easy coffee can method. Discuss what is happening when you are making it, from where milk comes from to how it thickens when it freezes. Most importantly, eat the finished product! Also discuss how it melts as you are eating.

Activity #2 Here are some ice cream printable pages, and a printable "I is for ice cream" tracing page.

Activity #3 Here is a art project to make a marble painted ice cream cone that uses an eyedropper for the paint. I have found this method less messy with greenbean!


Happy Chocolate Milkshake Day!

September 12th is Chocolate Milkshake Day! Does it get any better than that? Two of my favorite things, chocolate and ice cream, in one delicious, cold, smooth drink. How many shall I have today?

Here is the milkshake recipe I am going to make today at our house. Do you have a favorite?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Book of the day

Thursday's book of the day is...

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Here is another classic bedtime book, but can certainly be enjoyed anytime of the day. When reading this book discuss all of the details in the pictures, and help your child find new things on each page.

Activity #1 Draw a picture of nightime using black or dark blue construction paper. Add the moon and stars. Talk about the moon and how it rises in the evening and falls in the morning.

Activity #2 Go on a mouse hunt throughout the book finding him on each page. You could also take this a step further and cut out paper mice and hide them throughout the house. Then go on a scavenger hunt and have your little one count them as they find them.

Activity #3 Read the nursery rhyme "Hey Diddle Diddle" to your little one and find parts of this in "Goodnight Moon."
Suggestions or recommendations for a book? Just leave me a comment!

Life without cable?

We took the plunge. And we love it. We don't miss it at all. I never thought those words would come out of my mouth. We were a family that always had the TV on in the background. What a waste of quality family time and money and electricity.

Our final push came when I read Dave Ramsey's book Total Money Makeover. It has been a life-changing book for us. We looked at where all of our money was vanishing too and decided what things were not absolutely necessary. So just by cancelling cable, we are saving about $100 a month, $1200 a year!

Now, don't let me fool you, just because we cut cable, does not mean that we don't watch any TV. We purchased this antenae. The picture is just as good as cable, and we get all of the local channels. I let greenbean watch PBS cartoons, which are the most educational I believe, and free!

There are also many opportunities to watch free TV online as well. Here are a couple that we have found most useful:

- Hulu Watch popular tv shows and movies for free!
- Network websites such as ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX have full episodes you can watch online with minimal commercials!

We also rent from redbox. If you have not tried this, you must. Great deal and they almost always have new releases in stock.

Overall, I feel that we as a family have benefited tremendously by not having cable. It not only saves us money, but we are no longer TV zombies (well we were not that bad, but getting there) and have been spending more quality family time together doing various activities.

You can find many non-TV ideas for the family in the book, 365 TV-Free Activities You Can Do With Your Child.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Book of the Day

Wednesday's book of the day is...

Corduroy by Don Freeman

This is a classic children's book that has been enjoyed by many for years. It is a touching story with a great message.

Activity #1 Draw or color a picture of a bear. Here are teddy bear printable coloring pages. Talk about the differences in bears such as polar bears, grizzly bears, etc.

Activity #2 Make a store display of your little one's stuffed animals (we clear off a book shelf in our dining room for this) and place a price sticker (1 coin, 2 coins, etc.) on each one. Give your little one a baggie of pennies and let them shop away while you play cashier. This always is a hit in our house, and keeps greenbean entertained for a looooong time.

Activity #3 Use this simple template to make a bear face while teaching your little one about circles.

Activity #4 This might work better for older children, but toddlers might give some funny answers too. Ask your little one what they would do if they were left in a store overnight. What store would they choose? Help them make their own story out of their answers.
Activity #5 I have a bear shaped pancake mold that would make a special breakfast. I add blueberries for the eyes, nose, and buttons.
Enjoy and read, read, read to those little ones!

Works-For-Me Wednesday

This is my first Works-For-Me Wednesday!

So here is what I have found to work for me...

I laminate in order to reuse. Specifically my daily to-do list. Yes, I am a compulsive list maker. It started when I was pregnant and couldn't remember the five items I needed by the time I got to the grocery store. Well, it has been almost three years, and I have yet to get my memory back.

Anyway, I used to make a list everyday during breakfast of things that needed to be done to include errands, chores, work tasks, menu, exercise goal, etc., etc. Then somehow I would have a pile of lists cluttering my kitchen bar, aka the clutter catcher, that I kept because there was always one (or two or three...) tasks that did not get accomplished. That is another post entirely.

Anyway, I found that a lot of the days I would rewrite the same tasks. So I thought, hey why don't I make a laminated, reusable to-do list that I can just wipe off when I am done? It was so simple. Why had I not thought of this sooner? So, I went over past lists and wrote down the typical tasks for each day of the week. I then created a cleaning schedule of things to be done daily. I went on my computer and typed up the items done daily in one list, and then I went through and typed specific tasks for Monday, Tuesday, and so on in another list. I put blank spaces to be able to write in things that pop up, which there always are. I also picked a quote to add to each day that inspired me. Below is a small and unreadable picture of one day's to do list, but gives you an idea of what it looks like.

Also I have copied a sample of one day's list below (I tried to add my word document in here but don't know how, or if that is even possible.) The font I used was this.

Daily list:
o Vitamins/medicine
o Make beds
o Laundry
o Exercise
o Wipe counters/table
o Unload dishwasher
o Run dishwasher
o Take out trash
o Pick up toys/clutter
o Breakfast:
o Lunch:
o Dinner prep:
o Dinner:

o Laundry- B work clothes
o Sweep/mop all floors
o Clean kitchen
o __________________
o __________________
o __________________

In creating my list I tried to be as artsy and creative as I could so that the finished product would be something attractive that I would actually want to use and put in my house. After I was done, I bought self laminating sheets, and covered each one. I simply use vis-a-vis markers and fill in what I need to during breakfast. I know exactly what needs to be done for the day and it is such a simple solution. The best part is that now cleaning up my pile of old lists is not on the list of things I need to do! I also save so much paper this way. Earth-friendly and organized! It doesn't get better than that!

Do you have anything that you have found useful to be laminated?

Hope you find that this works for you! For more great ideas visit: Rocks in my Dryer


Book of the day

Tuesday's book of the day will be...

Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch

This is a great bedtime story, but can be used any time of the day. We love this book in our house.

Activity #1 Before reading this book to your little one, go through old pictures and find baby, toddler, elementary school age, teenage, and grownup pictures of different people in your child's lives. We have pictures of myself, my husband, and random ages of the grandparents that I found for this activity. We sit and discuss each picture. I also have greenbean sort them into groups of each person, then by each age category. They might need some guidance on this depending their age. It is fun for your child (and you) to see that you too were all little and how you grew up. I also find different pictures of greenbean as a newborn, one year, two years and now.

Activity #2 Make a little book of people your little one loves. Cut paper into the size of pages you want. Hole punch each page and use ribbon or yarn to tie together as a binding. You can make it as simple or crafty as you would like, be creative. Write a family member on each page and ask your little one why they love that person. Then write their answers onto the pages and let them decorate. This will be a keepsake, and sometimes it is hilarious what kids will come up with. Remember to write you child's name and age on it!


Time out for moms

Do you ever feel as if you would like to be sent to time out just to have some alone time? Well I sure do. Lets put a smile on our face by focusing on us for a change, even if only for a few minutes. That is why I am dedicating Tuesday's posts to mom's only. No kid talk allowed!

Join me as I try to get out of this "frump funk" I have been stuck in. I am a mom of 1, and I work from home, so it has been all too convenient to just let my style get pushed aside. I will admit that:
1. Some days I wear my PJ's all day.
2. My daily hairstyle is the ever so lazy ponytail.
3. I wear the same 5 shirts and 2 pairs of pants that I have had for 3 years (That is if I get out of my PJ's of course.)
4. My shoe of choice is flip flops that I paid $2 for.

So what am I going to do to get out of this frump funk? This week, I will wake up every morning and get dressed (in my same old clothes of course, baby steps, right?) It makes a huge difference in my attitude if I get dressed. Seems so simple, yet makes the day much more productive for me.

What will you admit to? What are you going to work on to dig out of this frump funk? Lets start smiling about ourselves. Any ideas are welcome, please share!


Monday, September 8, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I should start off by saying that I have a challenge planning meals for our family. I basically have to plan a meal and then do three different variations of it every night for three people. That is a lot of work, especially with a toddler hanging on your leg. So I have to plan, plan, plan to make it even a remote possibility. I am a vegetarian, my husband has to have a meat with every meal or he will be hungry again in 30 minutes, and I have a typical, picky-eating toddler (do I need to say more on this one.)

This week I will be using basic recipes and try to use up some items that have been pushed to the back of the pantry and forgotten for awhile to make my dinner menu. Usually for breakfasts and lunches I just do a general idea list since it is just me and greenbean, and it seems to never work out to plan these meals by day. So here goes my weekly plan:

Breakfasts ideas:
- Waffles and fruit
- Oatmeal
- Cereal
- Omelet
- Fruit smoothies

Lunch ideas:
- Sandwiches
- Salads
- Leftovers from dinner
- Mac and cheese
- Fruit smoothies

Dinner plan:

- Monday- Quesadillas. Bean, cheese, and sauteed vegetables (onion, zucchini, peppers) for me and greenbean. Ground beef, cheese, and sauteed vegetables for husband. This one is an easy one to adapt for all three of us.

- Tuesday- Spaghetti. Whole wheat noodles with four cheese spaghetti sauce. Mix in leftover ground beef from last night to husband's sauce. Serve with side salads. Greenbean will eat my spaghetti and probably a couple chicken nuggets.

- Wednesday- Slow cooker whole chicken, rice and broccoli for husband. Lentils, rice and broccoli for me. Greenbean will eat some of everything hopefully probably with grapes too.

- Thursday- Vegetable fried rice. Add leftover chicken to husband's.
- Friday- Homemade pizzas. Cheese, olives, and pineapple for me. Pepperoni, sausage, and cheese for husband. Greenbean will eat some of the pizza, but usually not much besides the crust (She might just be the only child on the planet that does not like pizza). I will have to come up with something else for her.

- Saturday- Vegetable pot pie for me, and chicken pot pie for husband using leftover chicken from Wednesday. Greenbean will eat quesadilla and vegetables from pot pie.

- Sunday- Try to eat any leftovers from the week, or if needed, chili with cornbread. Vegetable chili for me and add ground beef to husband's bowl.

Here is a healthy tip that I have found to work for me. When I am cooking meals I try to drink a glass of water. It fills my stomach up a little, and I find that I do not over eat (as much).

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Book of the day

Monday's book of the day is one of my favorites as a child. It has now become a favorite book of greenbean's. These lessons are meant to be fun and educational, but also to teach your child to develop a love for reading. I have found that by having related projects throughout the day with a theme, my daughter retains much more. So give Monday's book of the day a try and see how your little one responds.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joff Numeroff

Activity #1 Bake cookies and enjoy with a glass of milk. This recipe is a favorite of ours and healthier than chocolate chip so you don't have to feel guilty giving them to you little one, even for breakfast. This recipe is huge, but they freeze very well for up to six months. One batch lasts us quite a while.

Breakfast cookies:
2 cups brown sugar
2 1/2 cups oats
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
5 oz baby food prune puree
2 Tbsp water
5 egg whites (I use three eggs usually and they turn out fine)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots (about 7)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I line cookie sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Mix all dry ingredients together, then mix in wet ingredients, then fruit and nuts last. Roll dough into golf ball-sized pieces and flatten with a fork. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Activity #2 Draw a picture with crayons of your family like the mouse did or draw a picture of a mouse, and hang it on the fridge.

Activity #3 Trace letters to spell words from the book like mouse, cookie, milk, draw, clean, etc. You can customize your own printable tracing worksheets here.

Activity #4 Visit a pet store or read facts here to learn more about mice.