My Current Giveaways

Keep watching--more coming soon!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tips on Tuesday: Celebrating America

How do you view the 4th of July? Is it just a day to be off work and get things done around the house? Or do you take time to remember why we celebrate? Do your children understand the reason we celebrate the 4th? Are we taking time to instill in our children an understanding of where our country came from and why we celebrate? We want to teach our children to respect our country and to understand the meaning of our Anthem and Pledge.

I hope you'll consider ways to celebrate America with your family. It doesn't have to be related to the Fourth of July, but if you're looking for a place to start, it's a great time!

Some of the ways we celebrate this great country is by teaching our children a few simple things. First off, I was appalled to learn that (depending on which article you read) 60-70% of American citizens do not know the first verse to the Star Spangled Banner. Even less know there are more verses that we don't traditionally sing. We've taken it upon ourselves to teach our children the words to the National Anthem. We're proud of the anthem and what it means. We've learned the meaning behind the verses and share that with our children.

Second, we teach our children the Pledge of Allegiance. They still teach it in school, but my kids went to Kindergarten already knowing the words. They are important to me and I want my children to understand their importance. (And I'm so happy to report that in our school, after they say the pledge, they sing a patriotic song every day. I know that's not in every school, but I'm happy to know my children learned simple and complex songs at school. Everything from Yankee Doodle to God Bless America.)

Third, we work hard to teach our children how to respect our country. My boys (and girl) know that your hat will come OFF YOUR HEAD during the Pledge or National Anthem. (Same is true in churches, but that's a whole other story...) We are working to teach our children to stand out of respect when the colors are presented, during the Pledge and Anthem. We teach them to respect the flag and simple rules about not allowing the flag to touch the ground. We fly our flag proudly and explain why.

We also take time to explain to our children the sacrifice made by the servicemen and women who have been in the armed forces. Sean grew up as an Air Force brat and my father was in the Air Force during Vietnam. I want my children to know that families make sacrifices to serve our country.

There are some simple (and fun) things you can do that can be used as teaching moments. I find my children are a lot more receptive to teaching when it's done in fun. We have taken our children to parades and told them a little about the floats regarding the Armed Forces and even the service people (firemen, police, etc.) that are in the parade. Don't get me wrong, we focus on the fun of the parade and getting candy--but there are some great teachable moments.

We have made flag cakes before. It is very difficult to get 13 stripes and exactly 50 'stars' on a cake. We usually don't have the right amount, but we discuss the 13 stripes for the original 13 colonies. There is no official reasoning set for the colors, but George Washington had suggested red for England, blue for the sky and white for liberty. Other interpretations are red for the blood shed in battle to free our country and white for liberty/purity and blue for justice and freedom. If you've never made a flag cake, you bake a 9x13 cake (usually white, but we're a chocolate family). Frost with cool whip and use blueberries for the 'stars' and sliced strawberries to make the seven red stripes.
You can go a step farther and sing Happy Birthday to America before cutting and eating your cake.

There are lots of fun crafts, color sheets and projects available to download and print for free. Just Google "Fourth of July Crafts for Kids" or "Celebrating Independence Day". Both gave me terrific results.
And if you'd ever like to read all four verses to the Star Spangled Banner, click here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tips on Tuesday: Be the Best Parent You Can Be

I know there's a love/hate relationship we Americans have with one particular family. Either you love Jon & Kate or you don't. There doesn't seem to be middle ground. For those of you--like me--who have watched their show forever, I'm saddened by the breakup of their marriage.
It points out the one concern I've felt for them for years. They always talk about how they put their kids first.
Here's my point. When you put your kids first in your marriage, it forces your marriage (and your spouse) to take a backseat to the children. I've heard it time and time again from so many people whom I respect and from a lot of sources. To be the best parent you can be--love your spouse. To be the best example for your children--love your spouse. The best example any dad or mom can set is to love their wife/husband with their whole heart.
Our pastor reminded us on Father's Day that you were with your spouse before your children. When the kids are grown and gone, you will be back with your spouse. You have to continue to cultivate that relationship throughout all the years of your marriage. I believe that with my whole heart. Keep your marriage the priority so your kids know that their future spouse should come first when they get married, too.
Do your kids a favor--go out on a date with your spouse...or buy a little gift for them...or take time to share your day with each other--even if it means telling the kids to shush for a little bit. Show your children how important your spouse and your marriage is to you. By giving them a clear message of your love for each other, you provide the best security for their hearts and minds.
Sean--I love you more today than I did 18 years ago when we said, "I do."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

I'm blessed, blessed, blessed!
  • I'm blessed beyond belief to have a Dad who has always been there to support me, help me and cheer me on.
  • I'm blessed to have not one, but TWO awesome father-in-laws who love me for who I am. (And that ain't always a pretty thing!)
  • I'm blessed to have a husband who is an awesome Daddy to his kiddos (and often an awesome 'daddy' to the neighbor kids or kids at school who aren't as blessed as we are).
  • My kids are blessed to know their Daddy, their two Poppas and their Granddaddy and they love spending time with them.
  • Most of all, we are blessed to have a Heavenly Father who loves us and I'm happy to know that my entire family are princes and princesses because our daddy is the King of Kings.
Happy Father's Day, 2009!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Andrew's School Awards Night

I somehow missed posting about the End of Year Awards Night at Andrew's school. It was very nice and he was given a certificate of achievement for his activities (he tied for the most activities with another kid on his team) and a second certificate for maintaining a 4.0 GPA this year--making him a Summa Cum Laude. All 4.0 students are considered Summa Cum Laude.
I tried to get him to smile before we started, but he didn't see me--so he looks a little 'blank'. Then I caught him lining up to get his certificates.

These pictures are receiving the certificate (from his Reading teacher) and the second one is a handshake from the principal. She's a fantastic gal and really loves the kids and puts them first.

We're very proud of him and all that he accomplished in his first year of middle school. He had an awesome year both academically and personally.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Road Trip!

I had a fantastic opportunity to go on a road trip with my friend (and author) Cheryl St.John and author Mary Connealy. I hadn't met Mary before, but she's a totally fun gal! We went to a bookstore where Cheryl & Mary had a signing with Julie Miller and Bobbi Smith.

In this picture are Julie, Mary, Cheryl & Bobbi (front row). Back row is Connie--my mentor and friend from and Tina from the bookstore. I always have fun since I rarely get to talk to Connie face to face. Since I review a lot of books for the site, I always enjoy time together. Tina is a real crack-up and just shoots of little one liners--we were rolling at some of her antics.

After the signing, we went to "lupper" (lunch/supper---Tina's word) at Olive Garden. Yum, Yum! In this picture is Trudy (another reviewer), Connie, Myself, Julie, Bobbi, Mary, Cheryl, Tina.

It was a fantastically fun day and we had a great time.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tips on Tuesday: Our Judeo-Christian Nation Video

Awesome video.

Congressman Forbes asks the questions "Did America ever consider itself a Judeo-Christian nation?" and "If America was once a Judeo-Christian nation, when did it cease to be?" on the floor of the US House.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Baby, Oh Baby--I've got a Bicycle Baby

Baby, oh Baby--my baby's got a bicycle!

We found a little pink and purple bike at a garage sale at a price so awesome we had to buy it! Ever since we've gotten the bike, she wants to go ride it every day.

Sean & I trail along behind her as she careens down the sidewalk. On days when I need a break, Sean gets his exercise being her bicycle shadow.

I think she loves her new bike!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Tips on Tuesday: Summer Reading

Do you remember the Summer Reading Club when you were a kid? I remember reading all summer long to earn a medal from the March of Dimes (read-a-thon they no longer do) and a coupon for a pan pizza at Pizza Hut.

Well, times have changed. If you know how to play the game, your children can get a plethora of free stuff just for reading books this summer. Check with your local library for details, but start soon--most libraries and other reading clubs for children run from June 1-July 31. I've put all the offers I've found below. Enjoy!

Half-Price Books is running a program from June 1--July 31. The "Feed your Brain" program requires kids to read a minimum of 15 minutes per day for five out of seven days. Take the completed log form into Half Price Books and receive a $3 shopping card. You can turn in one log per child per week throughout the promotion.

Borders has a Kids Reading Challenge that is not free, but offers a 50% (or more) discount on select items. Ages 12 & Under can read 8 books, put them on the log and turn in at your local Borders store for select items at a big discount. In the fine print, the selected items are all $4.99. Might not be totally free, but a few of them look well worth the $4.99. And since the eight book requirement isn't any hardship since we're reading daily, we are going to do this one. This program goes through August 31, so you have a little additional time.

Barnes and Noble has a Summer Reading program where you read 8 books and earn a free book. This program goes through September 7. Just be aware that this one requires the most work--which is very minimal. After downloading and printing the Summer Reading Journal, you write down your favorite part of each story.

The B&N offer is limited to school aged children in grades 1-6.

If you hear of any other reading programs, let me know. My kids love to cash in on their summer reading. And studies show that just 15 minutes a day of reading helps children retain much of what they learned over the past school year. It also helps their reading skills to improve and encourages a life-long love of reading.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Sprinklers, Spraygrounds and Sunshine--Oh My!

Rounding out Granddaddy's trip to see us, the kids ran through the sprinklers one day and we took them to the local sprayground the next day.

For those who don't know what a sprayground is--I'm beginning to think it's a Midwestern thing. We create playgrounds that are water toys and sprayers. The water is recycled so it's not such a huge waste and rainwater (and snow melt) is part of the water used for the sprayground. There's a button to push to start the waterworks and then it typically runs on a 15-20 minute cycle. When the pumps kick off, hit the button and go again. (Andrew is pushing the button to start the water in the photo below.)

The first water-oriented day was late afternoon on a Sunday. The kids were chomping at the bit to get their swimsuits on and get wet. They wore us down and we agreed to let them run through the sprinklers. Rebekah didn't want her swimsuit and promised to stay out of the water and stay dry.

You are probably amazed that I am so gullible that I took her word at face value. I think Sean knew better, but let me live in my delusional world where children do NOT run around in the grass soaking their brand new dress that Mommy has saved since her birth for her to be able to wear. I'm sure it was purely accidental that I came out to get pictures of this...
She was watching herself 'dancy, dancy, dance' in the reflection on the front door. Then she turned around to conduct the music she hears in her head.

Here are the boys running and playing in the sprinklers. These first two photos are my current 'favorites of summer'. I'm always amazed and floored when my children play with such total abandon. Then he is distracted by figuring out the mechanics of the sprinkler system. His smile with a background of daisies--how can you not fall in love with him?
Andrew is running through the sprinklers--but the photo makes it look like he's marching.

Here the three kiddos are checking out the grass stuck to Andrew's foot.

The next day we decided to head to the Sprayground. We went late in the afternoon and had a really great time. The grown ups got to relax, most of the time, while the kids ran and had fun. First are a couple of rare moments when the three kids were together in one photo at the sprayground.
Here's Rebekah waiting for the sprayers to come up--and running through the water when they turned on. She loves this area of the sprayground because it only gets her legs wet. Her face stays dry.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Musical Beds

Last week found us playing a new sort of a game at our house. We decided the new family game is Musical Beds. This is when nobody is really sleeping well, but trying to find a place to collapse for a few more hours of sleep.

One particularly bad night, Sean fell asleep on the couch while I went to bed in our bed. At this point, all children were in their regularly scheduled beds. In the night, Sean woke up and came to bed. Later on, Andrew was having trouble sleeping and moved into our room on the floor. His settling into our room woke me enough that I decided to sleep in the spare bed in Rebekah's room. Eventually, Andrew took my spot in my own bed.

At 6:00 am, Rebekah woke up and wanted to sleep with me. I put her in the twin bed with me and she fell back asleep pretty quickly. By the time she fell asleep, I was wide awake and decided to just get up and have a day. (Good thing I got up--you'll notice she is sleeping rather soundly on MY pillow. She's the biggest bed hog I've ever tried to sleep with!)

At some point, Nathan stumbled out of the Nathan Cave and wanted to try to sleep more. Unbeknownst to me, he climbed into the bed with Rebekah and tried to sleep. When he came out of his room and disappeared, I thought he was in the bathroom. After a long absence, I decided to go looking for him.

This is what I found...isn't it precious? Shortly after this, he managed to get back OUT of the bed without waking his sister. She got another half hour of sleep.

I'll admit it--after such a lousy night of sleep, I did take an afternoon nap. And I'm proud of my napping status.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Tips on Tuesday: Summer To Do List

It's back....

For those of you who read through this site often, you may recognize this chart. It all started last summer when I read about this idea on a friend's blog. I took it and ran with it thinking it would be a little something fun for the summer.

Not only was it great summer fun, but we ended up doing a Fall version, a Winter/Spring version and now we're back with Summer 2009.

What is this little something? It's a Summer Fun Chart/Checklist! As a family, we make a list of all the things we want to accomplish over the summer. (Mom gets final veto power and can add whatever she wants.) I make sure reading and naps make every list. Hooray!

This summer brings back many of our favorites--I think the Children's Museum makes every list. We carried over Chuck E. Cheese from the Winter list and Movie Night is back. However, I realized after we posted the chart that we still managed to leave important things off. We forgot the Zoo (big oops there), Catching Lightning Bugs (what summer is complete without that) and going to a local Baseball game. Trust me, we'll get those three done---even if they aren't on the checklist. We might even write them in and check them off as we do them.

Keep in mind that it doesn't have to be expensive to add to the list. Park, Library, Sprinklers, Bubbles, Game Night, Playdough--it's all free and cheap fun. The places we have memberships to make the list each quarter to remind us to use the passes we paid for.

We've already crossed off several things on the list. We check each week to see what we're trying to work into the following week. Then at the end of summer when school is starting, we know we had lots of fun and I don't hear the kids saying, "We never got to do anything this summer."

***Hint from Robyn***
For things like Reading, Naps, Park, etc that you want to do repeatedly throughout the summer, I have a great tip. I use different colored markers and each week or every other week I'll add a colored square just inside the check off square. As the summer goes by, you get a rainbow of squares and amazingly enough, it never quite gets full so there's always room to do just a little bit more of that. I fill it in completely a couple of days before I change the chart for the next season.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Sesame Street Presents...The Body

It's true--we forced Andrew to be in the Elmo photo with us. We went to the Sesame Street exhibit at the Children's Museum. We happened to be there the day Elmo was doing Meet & Greets. After I stood in the line for almost 40 minutes, I had made up my mind that a family picture was what we were having. Stand here and smile or I'll ground you for life. (And have a nice day--Love, Mom.)

Wouldn't you know it---after I wait in the MASSIVE line (for the family & Elmo photo) and they tell me I might not be close enough to make it through in the 30 minute 'Elmo window of opportunity' and blah, blah, blah---translated as: Line is too long, you'll never get a picture, but we'll 'try' for you. We did make it for the family photo and I was happy.

Then, we're wandering by for the end of the 2nd Elmo photo op and with about 5 minutes left, there's only 6 people in line. We hop in the line and one other person got in behind us, then they closed the line. No more Elmo photos. So we were able to get one of Sean & Rebekah. She's fine with a human barrier between her and the character. Please, do NOT put the girl where she could be touching the Elmo. Large crying jag will ensue.

The boys had fun with parts of the exhibit (the pooping expo was a big hit) but soon went off to play with the huge ball exhibit. Grands was with us so he followed the boys while Sean & I spent more time with Rebekah at Sesame Street.

Above is Rebekah doing the motion station. She's pedaling and jumping (and kicking, running, etc). When she jumps, it makes Grover fly into the sky.

Here's Ernie's Rub A Dub Tub. You learn all about Soap and washing hands/body, Toothpaste and brushing teeth and a Brush and Comb teaching about combing your hair.

In Elmo's World, you used the magnetic pieces to dress Elmo for the weather or for the activities he was going to do. Dorothy the goldfish was in her bowl and there was a shoe to practice tying laces.

One more fun Sesame Street activity. There was a little obstacle course and this wall says Crash. When you run through it it says Bam. I laughed so hard I almost cried.

As a final act of fun, we bought tickets to ride the carousel. First picture is Andrew teasing me, then Nathan in the red shirt (Andrew at the far right). Then Sean with Rebekah.

Sean was the 'designated safety guardian' for Rebekah. Check out his relaxed posture! I yelled at him to stand up and guard the baby.

Related Posts with Thumbnails