Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cookie Sheet Activities: Sorting!

My good Friend Rebecca (who should be an author of this blog- hint hint!) had this idea!  I just stole it from her to share with you (If she was an author on this blog she could have shared it herself!) 

She does many things with cookies sheets that do not involve cooking or cookies!  They make great trays to toddler/kid activities!  For the next few weeks I will show you how I have used cookie sheets at my house for toddler activities.

Cookie Sheet Activity #1 - Sorting!

I got my sorting blocks from Target in the Dollar spot around back-to-school time... I am pretty sure that they have some at the dollar tree in the school supplies section. 

I get my cookie sheets from the Dollar Tree... they are the perfect size and the perfect price.  We have 4 cookie sheets that I rotate with activities.

Sorting by colors:
There are 4 colors in my blocks so I divided a piece of paper in to 1/4s and colored each on the corresponding colors.  I tell my toddler to put the blocks in the right color.

he like to build towers with his block... as long as they are in the right color it is cool with me! :)

 Sorting by Shapes:
My blocks have 3 shapes.  I divided my paper into 1/3s and drew the shaped out down the sections.  I tell him to find the shape to fill in the row (or column - depending on how you face the tray)

Matching a pattern:
Here I have him match the shape and color 

Here I just have him match the color.

For older kids you could do:
Adding/ Subtracting
Making up their own patterns

What kinds of sorting do you do at your house?

Come back next week to see our next Cookie Sheet Activity!! 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mommy's Got Back...


Sorry for the month of blogging silence!

While visiting my family in Minnesota {including Fawnda (my sis) and Sherrie (my sis-in-law)--the other Mommy Tsunami writers}, I herniated a disc in my lower back. Can I just say, OUUUUUUCHHHHH!!!! I mean that junk really hurts! I have never had back problems before. It was crazy painful. Caused by an intense cough/sneeze. A freaking sneeze. I mean, really??? I wish I had a better story. But I don't. The doctor said it was probably weakened by a previous strain of my back, and the pressure of the sneeze just blew out my disc. Seems silly...but Totally NOT silly.

So, what was meant to be a fun family reunion ended up with my being hospitalized followed by over a week of being bed-ridden and loopy on pain killers and muscle relaxers (picture Paula Abdul on American Idol with narcolepsy). We ended up having to extend our trip an extra week, as I was traveling alone with my children (ages 2, 5,and 7), I could hardly walk, and I kept falling asleep mid-sentence.

When I finally came to, and regained use of my faculties...I had three main take-aways.

First, having a herniated disc SUCKS!!!!!!! So I am going to do everything in my power to keep that from happening again. I am going to strengthen my core, maybe start doing HOT Yoga. I am going to learn how to bend and lift properly. And I am never, ever going to cough or sneeze ever again for as long as a I live. Ok, that is obviously not possible, is it?? So, I guess I am screwed, aren't I? AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Second, there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, worth watching on television during the day. I usually do not even turn on my t.v. during the day, unless I am in need of a little afternoon entertainment from Dora or the members of Yo Gabba Gabba. Some days I feel like I must be missing out on some great television show that I could be enjoying while laying on the couch eating my bon-bons. I was wrong. There are no worthwhile shows. NONE!!!! And I have never tasted a bon-bon, but I am guessing that they too might be just as disappointing after all the hype about them.

Third, "A parent's job is never done." My parents had to take care of me like I was a child again. My mom had to take another week off work to care for my children while I recovered. My dad had to drive me to the hospital and doctor's appointments. They both helped monitor my meds and waited on me hand in foot. And I kept thinking, "I am 35 years old, and my mommy and daddy are still taking care of me." And then I thought of my own children. I came to a new realization. A slightly scary realization. "This parenting gig is going to last a whole lot longer than I had originally anticipated. Like DECADES LONGER!" "Moooommmmmmyyy!!!!!!!"

But the good news is, I am feeling much better. MUCH better!! And ready to starting writing again.

Again, we apologize for the lack of posts over the past month.

Hopefully, now we are BAAAAACK! :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Healthy Breakfast Options

Whether talking to a working mother, or the stay-at-home mother there is a common place that we can come together and agree. Mornings are complete madness. The constant checking of the clock to keep everyone on schedule to get out the door on time, or at least as close as possible. Do we have everything? Do we have everyone? Oh yeah, breakfast.

If you are like me, I have very little energy and motivation in the morning. So, breakfast often becomes a list of options that are semi-healthy but fast and easy. But now those options have run their course and I have begun the search for better breakfast options. And in that search I have stumbled across some very unnerving information. The list of "do not eat" is much longer than the list of "eat." And on top of that, I found an article claiming that boxed cereal is not considered food.

Yes, it is true. Boxed cereal is beginning to be considered by some not to be food, but a food product. This wonderful staple that I have turned to in my mornings of madness has betrayed me. I thought that I was feeding my children "whole grains" and "organic" cereal. But alas, it is not true. According to the article by SimplyBeingWell.com cereal's processing strips it and actually damages the proteins. The proteins that naturally would be healthy for us, then becomes toxic. And most cereals, organic or not, contain sugar. And if you go the conventional route, we have all heard the risks of the dyes and high fructose corn syrup that they load into the cereal.

So, now what am I to do? My search was not going the way I had planned. But finally I came across an article at TheDailyGreen.com talking about some great tips for some healthy breakfast ideas. So, here they are broken down in an easy-to-use list.

1. Fruit - Good old fruit. Healthy and full of nutrients. It is also a great way to curb those morning sugar urges/addictions.
2. Yogurt parfaits or smoothies - the best is that both of these are fast and can be eaten on the run if you have to. And there are lots of combination possibilities with flavors and textures.
3. Bake your own breakfast bars - this is my new goal to try. I will be on the search for some great recipes to share, and please share if you have found some of your own.
4. Eggs - Simple. Eggs are one of natures superfoods. You can't give your kids a better source of protein to start their day other than a good ol' egg.
5. Breakfast sandwich - redefine your thinking on the sandwich. Natural peanut butter, honey, and whole wheat toast is a great healthy option.
6. Oat porridge - there is a recipe on the link to the simplybeingwell.com for this. It is supposed to be a great option for children and infants. You soak the oats and it helps to take the strain off of their digestive system. The longer you soak them, the less the strain. This one takes a little more planning ahead, but is a great option for younger children.

So, whether you are rushing your little ones to daycare, or you are wrangling them at home for the day, I hope that this list of "to eat" options helps to manage your morning madness. Or at least makes the breakfast options a little healthier and easy to manage.

I would love to hear any healthy morning food ideas that your family has found! Please share. My mornings need all the help they can get! :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"What Do You Think?" Wednesday: Preschool

My son turned 3 this past week...{big sigh}... He is a big boy now (as he loves to tell me 100 times every day!)...{another big sigh}...And I am looking for a Preschool for him to attend next year.  I cannot believe how fast time flies! I remember people telling me that before I knew it my son would be in school... and I did not believe them!

 I have a couple of tours set up of perspective preschools this week.  I am excited to see them, but don't really know what to look for in a good preschool. 

So tell me:
What kinds of things do/did you look for in a good preschool? 
What kind of questions should I ask?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Toddler Tuesday: Fun with Cups!

We like to have fun around here... and if it can be done on the cheap - even better! : )

Here are some fun things that we do with a stack of plastic cups:

1. Building cup towers and knocking them down
Seriously, this never gets old for my 3 year old!

2. Stacking and unstacking... so simple... but he loves it. 
 I add in counting sometimes to make it more educational. 

3. Building bridges with boxes from our pantry. 
He likes to drive his cars under them  and on top of them!

4. Cup bowling! 
I stack 2 cups on top of each other to make the pins and we roll the ball at them.  

Even the baby loves to play with cups!   

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine Challenge

It's Valentine's Day and love is in the air! Well, actually at my house, love is overseas...as my husband is in London today while I am here in Connecticut. So it's just me and the kiddos and way too many conversation hearts. UR CUTE, KISS ME, YOU ROCK, etc. My kids never tire of reading those things. And it's like they think I wrote the messages on there myself, just for them.

And that got me thinking about other ways to tangibly express love to my children. Supposedly, there are five different "Love Languages". Words of Encouragement, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, and Gifts. We all need all of them to feel loved, but usually each person has one or two that really speak "Love" to him or her in a powerful way...a primary love language. So my first Valentine Challenge is to try to find out each of my children's primary love language(s). Some suggestions that I have read are to "have your child draw a picture or call out ways that parents love their children (without influencing their answers)". "Observe how your child expresses love to yourself and others." "Listen to what your child requests or complains about most often." "Or you can experiment by expressing love each way, and then noting your child's response." I am totally going to try these experiments this week!

And once I figure that out, my next Challenge is going to be: To make each child feel like I love them the BEST. I love the book called, "You're All My Favorites" about a mommy and daddy bear explaining to their three baby bears how they love all three of them the best. Precious!
And I know a bit about this first hand. I am the oldest of four kids, and I think each one of us growing up secretly thought that my Mom loved us the the best. Actually, we are all grown adults with families of our own, and I still think each of us secretly believes that Mom loves us the best. Sure we know she tries to be fair and spread her love around to all of us equally. But each one of us knows in our heart she really loves me the best.

Now that is a good trick! I am not sure how she did it, but I need to figure it out. Because I want my kids to feel the same way. I want each one of them to feel so loved, that they think I love them the best. But then again, not so much that they feel like taunting the other two with this information. I can just hear it now "Mommy loves me BEST!! Mommy loves me BEST!!"
That's always good for a punch in the nose. (My older son is the taunter...my middle child "Rocky" is a man of action!)

So I guess that leads to my third Valentine Challenge...To somehow achieve Challenges #1 and #2 without any bloodshed! "Rocky" could prove to make this last Challenge very challenging. Then again, he may have already given me a clue to my first Challenge...perhaps his primary "Love Language" is physical touch. :)

Happy Valentine's Day! And Good Luck in whatever Challenges you face today.

And if you have any other fun and/or creative ways to show love to your children, please share!

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Dirty Dozen vs. The Clean 15

Buying organic and balancing the budget are two things that do not live in harmony at our house. I want to do what is best for my family and feed them food that is good for them, but we also need to pay bills. I am sure that this is a scenario that is not unlike yours. How do you find the balance?

There is a large variety of pesticides and chemicals that are used to grow our food in the non-organic realm. The information that is helpful is to know what foods are worse than others. If you have to pick and choose what to buy organic, than you might as well buy organic on the ones that count.

This is where The Dirty Dozen come in. The Dirty Dozen is a list compiled by the Environmental Working Group on what foods have the highest concentration of pesticides, additives and hormones. The EWG continually updates this list. It is said that if you eat the fruits and veggies that are considered to be one of the dirty dozen, you will ingest on average of 10 pesticides per day.

The other side to this information, is what foods non-organic are "not so bad." This is The Clean 15. They have the lowest level of pesticides, additives and hormones. Many of these foods have a thick skin, or peel that is not eaten and protects the food from absorbing the contaminates.

We know that organic is most likely the best and healthiest option for our families, but not always possible due to the price of food today. So when you are at the grocery store bring with you the Dirty Dozen list and the Clean 15 list like I do. It will help relieve your stress or guilt about some of the foods you may have to pick to balance the budget.

What other guides have you found helpful?

Want more information?