Saturday, September 17, 2011

So glad I didn't have that garage sale....a SPELLING game!

Emma is now a first grader and is having weekly spelling on EARTH did my baby become a big girl in the blink of an eye?  We have had fun practicing her words...and I'm always looking for something mix it up.  With my background in education, I understand that there are many modes to assist in really *learning* something.  So, when I saw this idea on Pinterest, I knew I had to recreate it...but I *really* needed it not to use white stickers and my hand printing.  {embarrassing to admit that I'm silly like that?  yes!} I raided my old scrapbooking boxes {I'm digital now} and found these wonderful letter stickers.  I think they look clean and tidy and they make me want to use them to spell...I hope Emma feels the same way.  :)

To use: *have your child read the words that you build for them *have your child build words from a pile of disconnected blocks *have your child build words that are not on his or her spelling list, but follow the pattern (for example, Emma does not have the word "hat" but has several "at" words) this way he or she is learning other words in the family

I have built blocks for Emma's first and second weeks of school so far, and will continue to build until I run out of blocks {here I come garage sales!} also recognizing that many letters are repeats, blocks will be used over and over.

Go get your outgrown Duplo blocks and make some spelling blocks!  I'd love to see your kiddos using them as well.  :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

~Simplify on Saturday~

The past two weeks have been....interesting.  And, I have been incredibly busy.  Today...I am going to simplify by turning it off.  I am turning off my computer and my tv.  I am turning on some favorite music....and I am going to....just be.  I will clean, fix a meal and relax.  I will rejuvenate.  I think I'll take a long soak with a book.  A paper book.  I'm turning off my kindle.  ;) 
I will be back this coming week with some thoughts......enjoy your Saturday!

Monday, January 17, 2011

~Monday Motivation~ water

Water. kids and I have been talking about water during school time a lot this past week. We came up with a question.  How much water is there on, in, and above the Earth? The image on that page is awesome.  They  *really* liked it.  And of course, this is an abstract concept at nearly 4 and 5.5 years old...but, introducing the vocabulary of the water cycle is HUGE for future understanding.  Then we began to talk about water in the human body.  I should mention....I am a "drink water" this is something they think about. And we wondered.... How much water is there in the human body?    Another fun link. :)  It is amazing how much water is necessary, and how much many of us tend to ignore it.  When E tells me she is too tired to learn (and I know she has had a good night sleep and not been pushed too far) I offer her a glass of water.  In five minutes or so...she is back to learning.  Miracle?  No.  Water.  ;)

So...where does this turn to motivation?  Here.  I am a self proclaimed water freak...but left to my own devices, I'd drink more coffee than water.  {hide}  It is true.  However, coffee does not have the same wonderful effects on the body as water does.  So, I have to have a little external motivation.  I found an app last summer that not only tells me how much water I need to consume each day based on my individual needs (ie: weight, coffee consumption, activity level, breastfeeding status) but also tracks it for me.  It is customizable for water serving size as well.  I just love this app and it is a daily user.  It motivates me to keep well hydrated and I feel GREAT being hydrated!  Water My Body  is a 99 cent app.  There is also a free one now, but I paid the 99 cents as it was not available when I started.  Oh, and you *can* hide your body weight.  I do.  ;)  Check it out!  It's a cheapie...or a freebie....and I don't think you'll regret it.  :)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

~Simplify on Saturday~ the computer

This week has been seriously curious.  It has had ups and downs, hurt and joy, excitement and disappointment.  Sounds like a pretty normal week, huh?  Yesterday was an especially interesting, gleeful, lonely, and curiosity inspiring day.  I know!  All in 24 hours.  I am learning to go with the flow and simply rise to meet the wave where it joins me.  I am also learning to take joy in the small stuff.  :)

To simplify my life today...I am "cleaning up" my computer.  How often is this ignored?  (lots around here...I turn my computer on and expect it to just *go* even when it is nearly full...heaven knows when I'm nearly full I come to a near standstill!)  My laptop is 3 and a half years old.  Three and a half years of daily use.  I have SO many unused programs and I have files all mish-mashed around.   I am going to begin by uninstalling *all* the programs I do not use.  (Please don't go and delete things that you are unsure of....just get rid of those trials or outdated ones.) Then I'll run updates.  I'm fairly certain that my computer is smart enough to do this....but, better safe than sorry.

Then...the files.  UGH.  Photos first I think?  Then documents.  They MUST be sorted out logically.  And...I have lots of back up to do.  My family keeps telling me to get a thumb drive.  But, I have personal webspace that I am going to upload to.  Then I can access it anywhere, anytime.

So.  Lots of sitting today.  My butt already hurts...but my computer will thank me.  ;)

What are you going to simplify this Saturday?

Monday, January 10, 2011

~Monday MoJo~

One week down in the new year!!  I did not do 100% of my chore list last I just can not do a certain task on the appointed day (ahem, toilet....I really dislike cleaning you.)  But...overall, I kept up fairly well...I'd say 85%-ish?  Not too shabby!  And...I also did other the major playroom overhaul.  :)  That felt GREAT and my children LOVED the outcome.  Which in itself elevates my success to 100%  :)  Yay me!  (Yes...I congratulate myself.  If I waited for outside congratulations, could be a cold day.)

So...MOJO.  So far today I have
  • edited my chore list to include some personal tasks (if you don't use one, check out Motivated Moms )
  • made my menu plan for the week and completed a grocery list
  • completed reading with E (we home school, remember?)
  • cranked some showtunes to clean to  lol...yes, showtunes.  ;)  feel free to laugh with me!
I have to tell you about my grocery list tool-I ♥adore♥ it.  I use an app on my iPhone called Grocery iQ.  It is SO COOL and it really makes shopping sort of fun.  ;)  I can set the list up to shop by the isles in my store so everything is in the right order as I steer through the isles.  A simple click marks your item off the list and if you set it up with grocery prices, it will tabulate your running grocery total.  You can scan the UPC of *many* items right from your kitchen or from the market.  I have mine totally personalized with the things we use at home.  You can also use coupons with this app.  (I admit, I do not, so I do not know much about it...yikes!) You should really check it out.  I see they also have the app for Droid.  :)  Yay smart phones! did you do last week?  I admitted to my less than perfect run....tell me how you did!  What do you do to keep yourself motivated?  I can always use additional motivation.  :)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

~Simplify on Saturday~ toys

Toys.  Did you know that toys and rabbits are distant relatives?  Little buggers reproduce when you are not looking and suddenly your play room, toy space or bedroom are OVERFLOWING!

I thought that I had done an adequate job thinning out  around Thanksgiving time.  I was *wrong*.  Today I am attacking our play room.  Anything that is too juvenile will be donated to our church daycare.  Anything that is a duplicate or close second will also be donated.  The stuffed animals.  Gah.  They are so hard to thin.  lol must be done.  Or at least, they must be sorted and rotated for play.....which brings me to.....

Toy Rotation 
Do you do this?  It is the only way I keep our play room usable, and we have a pretty nice sized playroom.  E is 5.5 and B is nearly 4.  They have AMAZING imaginations.  But...when they are overwhelmed...all play stops and they are simply frustratedSo...I rotate toys.  This is a common practice in the kindergarten classrooms of yesteryear (you know...when K was a time to learn through play and social interaction?) and of most all preschools.  Fresh toys weekly or every two weeks will give a child's imagination a new palate to create with.  I am not going to sugar coat it and say that it is easy to start...but once you are in the groove, it is *amazing*.

Our playroom has a nice sized closet (it is really a bedroom) and also an armoire in it.  The closet is strictly off limits and used to store tubs of toys that are out of rotation.  It is actually partially blocked and E and B think of it more as a wall than closet doors.  The armoire is open on the bottom (I removed the doors as they impeded the play space) and closed at the top (more out of rotation toy storage.)  Toys not being played with are stored in the bottom area of the armoire as well as in baskets and crates around the room.
Two permanent structures include a play kitchen-the best purchase ever-and a train table-easily the second best purchase ever.  ;)  I rotate the items in the play kitchen to keep E and B creating new recipes.  The train table is currently a playmobile safari area.  I LOVE that is has a second purpose.  It will be swapped out again as needed.  :)  Permanent toys are the maple blocks, the brightly stained cube and flat blocks and our playsilk collection.  These three are constantly shifting purposes....they become just everything and are such a flexible imaginary toy.  I adore them.  I could easily rid our playroom of almost everything else and *still* watch my children create new play with them alone.

Constantly rotating are puzzles from our nice sized collection.  Various trucks and doll play items.  Different mediums of play food-wooden, wool, or felt.  Legos, K'nex, Lincoln Logs.  Games.  lol...lots of games.  Board games or skill games...there is always something to play either alone or with a partner.   I think you get the idea.  I try to limit our room to a small selection from any "type" of play.  They each week, select something new.  If E and B are really engaged with any toy, it stays for a second week.  The really look forward to the "shift" and having new items.  :)

I am rearranging the big things I should get to it.  :)  Go rearrange and sort through your toys if you have not recently.  Your kiddos will really appreciate it...and you'll appreciate the way they play when they are less overwhelmed.  :)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thoughts for the New Year

Posted on the front of my church newsletter this month were these words from Mother Teresa.  I have had to reread this several times and each time a little more sinks into me.  These words are pertinent...even if you are not "churchy" it anyway.  Let it sink in.  Read it a few times.  Enjoy. ♥

People are often
unreasonable, irrational and self centered -
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of 
selfish, ulterior motives -
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some
unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies -
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere, 
people may deceive you - 
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, 
others could destroy overnight -
Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, 
some may be jealous - 
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, 
will often be forgotten -
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have,
and it will never be enough - 
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, 
it is between you and God -
It was never between you and them anyway.

--Mother Teresa

It is true, huh?  I really believe that by doing the right thing, the good thing, the sincere improve your own life.  I am trying very hard not to sink to the levels of some people surrounding me.  They are plenty of times that it is *hard*.  But, *I* am a better person and mother when I step up and do the right thing.  The sincere thing.  The happy thing.  I am a work in progress...but I am growing.  And, that makes me smile!

~Totally unrelated....who is keeping up on their housekeeping?  Are you using MM?  Are you using something else?  Are you using nothing?  ;)  If you want to try MM...see the post below for a coupon code. :) ~

Monday, January 3, 2011

~Motivation Monday~

It is the first Monday of 2011!!  I would love to say I had everything in my life in order and spontaniously organized....but, often, I need motivation to do things.  Sometimes just talking about it with others is enough. I am all about *accountability*  ;)  Sometimes I need to make a check mark.  Some physical way to record my accomplishment.  I also use my iPhone and a few handy-dandy apps. (I did not think I needed a smart phone.  I mean...I had a phone.  I had a calendar.  I have a computer....dude.  NEVER was I so wrong.  Everyone needs an iPhone.  Needs.  You may not know it...but you do need one.) the spirit of the new year....I want to share how I keep organized.  Motivation Monday.  I'll post my methods, and I'd love for you to share too!

This is my household folder.  I keep EVERYTHING in it.

It is, quite simply, a folder that I decorated to make it feel special.  lol....yes....the "pretty" motivates me to keep it around.  :)  Inside I have my weekly chore list, my menu planner, a month at a glance calendar to record appointments, bills in the pockets, ballet schedules, homeschooling information/ name it, if it has to do with keeping me organized, it is in there.  If I had to leave my house in an emergency...I would grab it right after my children.
The chore list *really* keeps me organized.  It lists many things that you may already do...but it allows you to check them off and feel the accomplishment.  Also, my favorite part, is that it takes big jobs that *need* to be completed (but sometimes rarely do) and breaks them up over several days so that you are not overwhelmed with a huge task on any one day.  Every Sunday evening, I look over the week and cross off things that do not apply to me and add extra chores that are individual to my home.  (Like, take out the trash can on Tuesday night....I would never remember otherwise!)
I like this planner so much, that I contacted Deann at Motivated Moms and asked her if my friends and readers could have a little discount to start off the year right!  She offered a code to take a dollar off, so this year long planner can be in your notebook for just $7!  Click here -
or click on the button to the right, choose your planner (there is even an APP this year!!) and enter the code GETHERE upon checkout.  :)

Happy Monday!!  :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What is a mom to do? *wink~wink*

So...I am fixing dinner for my littles and I when I realize....I am down to my last teaspoon of olive oil.  Hum.  I need olive oil. How on earth did I run out of it?  Well....whatever.  Fact remains....there is not enough.

I had already cleaned and cut my red potatoes into wedges and gotten them ready to toss with Parmesan cheese, sea salt, rosemary and *olive oil*.  My chicken breasts were ready to be sauteed with *olive oil* and garlic.  The potatoes really need the olive oil to get the coating to they got the last dribbles.  Now....what to do about the chicken?  Yeah...I could have baked them...but that is not so great...they always wind up dry.  So...I peeked into my fridge thinking I would use applesauce and just have a sweet chicken.  A little apple cider vinegar thrown in would have tempered the sweet and been quite tasty!  But...oops...I spied bacon.  Oh...bacon has fat, right?  That would keep my chicken from sticking in the pan and even fry it a little bit.  Hum...would it work?  What the hell!  I tried it.  ;)  I had three three slices of bacon, right?  **evil laugh**
My kitchen smelled wonderfully.  I mean, let's face it.  Bacon=Meat Candy.  Bacon makes everything better.  I am sure that I threw the nutritional benefits of breast meat poultry out the window...but, was YUMMY!  E and B begged for more.  And the peas they usually eat very quickly were *inhaled* when they found the tiny bits of freshly fried bacon mixed in.  ;) 

Dinner was a success and saved by meat candy.  :)  And, no pictures.  I am so not Ree.  ;)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

~Simplify on Saturday~ towels

I had *lots* of changes in 2010.  Lots.  And I began to really simplify my life and I feel SO much lighter because of it.  So...each Saturday...I am going to choose one little thing to simplify in my life.

Today is towels.  I know...towels.  So silly.  But really.  I have too many towels.  Bath towels, beach towels, hand towels, washcloths, kitchen towels....on and on and on.  I have bath towels from when I began college.  Yes...that is embarrassing.  It was 1991.  lol.  Today?  They are leaving my linen closet.  Bye bye blue towels.  Bye bye mint green towels.  Thank you for drying me...but you must leave now.   I also have enough dish towels to dry dishes and wipe spills and hands of a small army of toddlers.  Crazy.  Some are stained.  Some are just ugly.  They are leaving.  I do not need them and they take up too much space.  And, why should I live with ugly towels?  That's plain silly.  I own nice ones...time to use them.

So nice sized box out.  Gah!!  :)  My home feels larger already!  Go get rid of some extra linens and see what I mean!  :)

Wow. It's 2011. How did I get here?

I am amazed at the fact that it is 2011.  How in the HELL did time fly so fast?  Were we not all freaking out about Y2K just yesterday?  Wow.  That is all. 

I am Monica.  I am a mom.  A single mom.  I have two *amazing* children.  E, my daughter, is 5.5 years old.  B, my son, is nearly 4.  They are full of life, love and learning.  They blow my mind at least once every single day. I have been separated from my husband for the past 8 months.  I was heartbroken when he left...but feel so free now.  He released me from a world of dysfunction that I did not realize I was enduring.  I feel lighter.  I feel joy for the first time in ages.  I feel *alive*.

2011 will be full of changes for my little family.  I am *so* looking forward to them.  What an adventure this year will bring.  I love to write.  It is an outlet.  I also need accountability., here we are.

I am not sue how I got to where I am...but I am excited about where I am going.  Want to walk with me?