Saturday, October 30, 2010

Help! Potty Training, Again?!?

O.k. fellow moms, I need your advice about potty training.  We gave it a valiant effort this summer, but K just wasn't ready.  We went back to diapers and quit talking about it, figuring he'd let us know when he was ready.  Today he completely surprised us by declaring he needed to use the potty.  He did and then I gave him the option of underwear or diaper.  He chose underwear.  He did a great job in the morning of telling us that he needed to pee, and only had one accident on his way to the bathroom.  After nap, he still told us, but he was already peeing while he stood on the carpet.  He had three accidents in a row, sigh...  I don't know what to do at this point.  What worked for your kids, and what didn't?  How long did it take for them to truly be trained and not having daily accidents?  Did any of you go back and forth between diapers and potty training?  Thanks for your advice!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Apologies!

Dear blog reader,
I need to apologize.  I allowed Google to place ads on my blog as a way to help raise funds for our upcoming adoption.  If someone clicked on an ad, I was to receive a small compensation from Google.  The ads were supposed to correspond to what I'm posting about.  However, today I saw two ads on my blog that I completely disagreed with and had nothing to do with me or what I write about.  One was a political advertisement endorsing something I oppose!  I was so furious that I immediately removed the ads.  I apologize if you were subjected to ads on my blog that offended you.  It was not my intention whatsoever. And, for the record, I never got paid for the ads.  I didn't have enough clicks to even earn six dollars.

I love sharing my thoughts on Mom Thoughts.  I truly appreciate the comments that all of you have shared.  I look forward to continuing my blog, and now ad free!

It's a Matter of Perspective

I'm also thankful for my husband; he washes the dirty dishes!

Thank God for dirty dishes,
they have a tale to tell.

While other folks go hungry,
we're eating very well.

With home and health and happiness,
we shouldn't want to fuss,
for by this stack of evidence,
God's very good to us.

-Kirsten Emmerton
from Taste of Home Oct/Nov 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Author Spotlight: Sandra Boynton

One of the first books given to our son was Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton.  That was our introduction to a wonderful and quirky author that has become a family favorite.  Young toddlers can connect with Boynton's funny characters, simple rhyming text, and colorful illustrations.  Adults will appreciate the humor.  The amazing Ms. Boynton- author, illustrator, and composer- writes songs to accompany some of her books.  The songs are incredibly goofy and fun; we love "Barnyard Dance".  You can download several of her songs for free at:  "Personal Penguin" is one of my favorites; give it a listen.  We own seven Sandra Boynton books including: Snuggle Puppy; Barnyard Dance; Belly Button Book; Fifteen Animals; Hey! Wake Up! Blue Hat, Green Hat; and Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs.  Plus we've checked out many others from the library.  It's hard to choose a favorite, so I won't try.  These board books are a perfect way to share the joy of reading with a young child who has a short attention span.  Besides being entertaining, Boynton's books are also educational as they introduce: counting, colors, opposites, animal sounds, and much more.  It's sad, but our son who is three now, has sort of outgrown these books.  I'm looking forward to revisiting them with our daughter once we bring her home from China in a couple of months.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Reading Readiness

I have been an educator for 12 years now.  I started out teaching full time in an elementary school, and then seven years ago I switched to tutoring for a well known tutoring agency.  (No need to give them free advertising :)  I love teaching, especially helping kids learn to read.  Of course, being a teacher, my son gets taught at home whether he wants to be or not!  Thankfully, he's three and wants to learn about everything.  He began to show an interest in learning to read when he was two.  He picked up the alphabet thanks to Dr. Seuss's ABC and began asking what letter words start with.  That was a huge sign to me that he was ready to learn phonics.  Now he is starting to sound out some words on his own and it's so much fun to watch it happen! I wanted to share with my fellow moms what I've learned so far. 

It's really not hard to teach a child to read.  When they are young, interested, love repetition, have no concept of things being "too hard", and motivated to achieve new things...that's the perfect time to introduce phonics.  As long as it's fun, and there's no pressure, I believe in giving them the opportunity to learn how to read.  I don't believe that there is specific age that constitutes ready to learn.  I think it's more according to their interest.  If you are sharing the joy of reading with them on a daily basis, they will most likely want to learn to read.  

Some suggestions for teaching your child to read:

1. Start by reading to him or her every day. We read before nap and bedtime, as well as random times throughout the day.  We visit the library often.

2. Include in your reading some books that teach the alphabet. (There were over 6000 suggestions when I searched on Amazon!) Here are a few I like:

· Dr. Suess’s ABC (My son learned his alphabet from this book!)

· Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

· A to Z by Sandra Boynton

· Richard Scarry’s Cars & Trucks from A to Z

· Curious George's ABCs

3. Sing the ABCs during the day: diaper changing, brushing teeth, in the car… I like to chose a singing style: opera, country, jazz, whatever.  It’s fun for everybody!

4. There is a multitude of toys that incorporate the alphabet to heighten awareness. Some that we own are: wooden ABC puzzles, an alphabet placemat, stacking blocks with letters, and magnetic letters with a wipe-off/ chalkboard. We’ve also created letters with play dough, so you can use what you have to make letters too. My son even started making letters on his own with string or a strip of paper, and sometimes his food!

5. Purchase some magnetic letters for the fridge and make easy words together like "cat" or "dog", and spell out names of people in your family. That way your child sees that letters work together to make words. Plus they're learning that we read from left to right.

6. Flashcards are a great way to quiz your child and see which letters they know. Make sure to get (or make) cards that include lower case letters separately. You can play a matching game to find the capital and the lower case letters that go together.

7. Your child will probably be pointing out letters everywhere you go by now. Have fun with it and start talking about beginning letters of words, like: “Costco starts with C!” We have an on-going game to see how many words we can think of that start with a particular letter. Names of people are favorites with my son.

8.  Read text to your kids wherever it pops up, like brand names on their clothes.  They will begin to recognize the font or logo and feel proud that they can "read" the words.  (Like: Gymboree or OshKosh)

There are lots of other possible ways to introduce and teach the alphabet, so please share in the comments other ideas and suggestions.  As a teacher, I'm always looking for new and fun methods to use with my students.   In a future post, to follow soon, I'll share how we taught phonics to K and the simple steps to take from there so your child can begin to sound out easy words.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Need a Song?

I've decided to add a new topic to Mom Thoughts: ways to manage stress.  Seems like I get worn out all too often being a mom.  Know what I mean?   The most important thing I've learned is that I need to be proactive in finding ways to de-stress and recharge so I can keep giving out to my family.  Here's my solution for an instant "stress-lift":

The song "You Are For Me" by Kari Jobe is my favorite.

Listening to the song "You Are For Me" by Kari Jobe helps to melt my stress away. (Click on the song's title to hear it on YouTube.)  Its peaceful piano & orchestral accompaniment and Kari's ethereal voice recharge my soul as the words flood me with hope.  The lyrics remind me that God loves me and will help me with whatever circumstance I'm dealing with.  Awesome!  

Do you have a favorite song that helps to lift you up when you are worn out?  Please feel free to share it in the comments.   I love hearing from you all!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Bars

One of my favorite things about autumn is the flavors of fall like pumpkin pie spice, and apple cinnamon; they are so inviting and comforting.  I've been making a lot of fall themed foods lately.  We've made pumpkin pancakes.  (Found the recipe in this month's Taste of Home magazine.  Yum-o!)  Yesterday I made a pumpkin chicken soup.  It was actually quite good.  However, the best pumpkin recipe this season came from my mom, of course!  My mom is the go to source for great desserts.  Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think.  We loved it!

Pumpkin Bars:
1 c. butter, softened
2 c. sugar
4 large eggs
1 c. pumpkin
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond flavoring
1  1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1  1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. chopped pecans

Beat butter and sugar first in large bowl.  Then add eggs and pumpkin and stir until blended.  In small bowl, mix together dry ingredients.  Then pour dry mixture into wet ingredients and stir.  Finally, fold in pecans.  Pour into a greased 9x13 pan and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.  Frost when cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. butter, softened
2 c. powdered sugar (add more for thicker frosting)
1tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond flavoring

Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Slowly add sugar and stir till well blended.  Finally, add vanilla and almond flavoring and stir thoroughly.  Enjoy!

Mommy & K making pumpkin pancakes.  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Introduction to Rubber Stamping

Hi fellow moms.  I thought I'd share a demo of a card I made this past week.  I try to do something crafty every Sunday, although that doesn't always work out.  But this week, I had some fun with a new little stamp set I picked up at the craft store.  I love spending time in my craftroom.  It's a surefire stress reliever for me, plus I end up with something creative that I can give away.

I found this cute stamp set for $1.00 (regular price) at Jo-Ann Fabrics.
Don't let the $1 stamp set fool you, stamping is not a cheap hobby!
Here are some of the supplies I used for this project.  I also used a
paper cutter, glue stick, ribbon, and scissors.

First: adhere your clear stamp to an acrylic block & stamp the puppy.
Then stamp your sentiment with a different color.
Clear stamps make it easy to get the words in the right spot every time.

Then color in your image.  I used a watercolor technique with
a waterbrush and two brown stamp pads, one lighter than the other.
Use the brush to pick up the color from the stamp pad.
Make one side of your image slightly darker for a shading effect.

Now stamp your background paper for extra visual interest.
All the card stock I used is from Stampin' Up.  Love their products!

Add ribbon for extra pizzaz.  I got this twill ribbon at Wal-mart.
Adhere the red square and white square with 3-D adhesive like
3M foam tape.  Then your image really pops!
The finished card is 4 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches.  

Friday, October 8, 2010

Update on mural

I finally got an overhead to draw the airplane for K's room.
Thank you Lindsay!!

Work in progress...thought it would be fun for K to "help" a bit.

So, this project has intimidated me.  I've never painted an airplane before, nor have I painted something this large.  I've been procrastinating for weeks.  However, K's birthday is this week, so I got a fresh wave of inspiration to work on the mural again.  It's not done yet, but I am happy that my son likes it and my husband thinks it's cool too.  Even though it's going to look far from professional, I'm glad that I'm doing this project for K.  He's going to be a big brother, and maybe this room makeover will help him understand that he is still special and important to us.