Saturday, May 31, 2008

Hello good mornings!

With Fischer waking up between 5:00 and 6:00 every morning, I definitely need this soap! Apparently it absorbs through your skin. I can get the pick-me-up without any calories (since I must have my coffee very froo froo - fattening).

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Just clicking around: photography

I love to look at photographs, I can look at my own scrapbooks and albums hundreds of times, pouring over every picture, every detail. I can also look at other people's albums of people I don't even know and find them very interesting. I mainly like to look and re-look at photographs of people and the places they go.

In fact, a while back I acquired all of my grandmother's photographs from her entire life. My plan is to make a video of all of the pictures so that all of my relatives can enjoy them. the problem is, there are SOOO many and it is a really daunting task. i want it to be perfect and detailed, and so.... I have done very little on it in the past 3 years!!! Talk about a sore subject.... Anyhoo...

I have recently become intrigued by a number of photoblogs that I have come across. I thought I'd share them,

Big happy funhouse is a photoblog of old photos. it is awesome, like looking at my grandmother's oldies. Click on the archive for more photos than the main page holds.

Square America is a gallery of vintage snapshots & vernacular photography. More fabulous oldies. The archives (at the bottom of the main page) are actually organized by theme. Each collection is really fascinating

Running from Camera - is a comical collection of pictures of a guy running from his camera. This guy has been running from his 2-second self-timer for 2 years!

Mr. Toledano takes pictures of bankrupt businesses... surprisingly intriguing. has a hefty index of photoblogs if you find yourself interested. Many of the most popular blogs are by people who seem to be quite incredible photographers. most of the comments are to critique the skill and composition of the photo and photographer. is one of my new favorites to check out periodically. It is a community for photographers and photography enthusiasts (I am the latter of the 2). Anyway, breathtaking photos here.

Little People Swap

We just signed up for the Little People Care Package Swap. It is kind of like getting your kids a pen pal. They match you up with another family in the US or otherwise, and you put together a care package for their kids and they do one for yours. This time they have a theme and lots of ideas for all that is involved with the swap. It sounds like a ton of fun and a great experience. Come join us! We'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Oooey gooey fun!

Fisch and I had a stay-home day today. We didn't go anywhere, which is quite rare. It was wonderful! How easily you forget what a day in your pjs can do for you! Anyway, we played and did a series of messy "experiments". He LOVED it! They were just the old elementary school stand-bys: baking soda and vinegar, Karo syrup and food coloring, corn starch and water... but, of course he loves a good mess, so these activities were right up his ally!

BTW: Yes, I know that I completely butchered his bangs with a pair of dull scissors! However he CAN see now, and I'll take him for a real cut next week. Personally, I feel better when I can see his eyes!

Signing Time Music - 5 day special

Signing Time is having a 5 day special (now through June 1st). You can download MP3s of complete CDs for only $5. The CDs are usually between $10-$14, Awesome deal. You can just burn your own CD or whatever. Rachel Coleman writes and sings all of her own songs, and she has a beautiful voice. Fischer loves to hear the songs, he always claims that they are his "favorite". The songs are fun and I find myself singing them here and there. I really like the songs on her Shine CD, they are mostly songs she has written for her daughters and reflect her thoughts and feelings on raising daughters with disabilities. I also really like the Magic Words song on the Volumes 1-3 CD. Lots of goodies, I thought I'd pass along the info to you.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

We're sprouting up veggies!

Our garden has begun to show hundreds of little sprouts popping up all over!!! It is sooo fun! From the seeds we planted, we can see actual seedlings of zucchini, cucumbers, spinach, carrots, peas, green beans, and artichokes. I haven't seen any broccoli poking up yet. Also our fruits are going crazy. Last year we planted strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and grapes. All of the plants are healthy and growing bigger. This is only our second year with our garden, but we are having a great time. We recently bought a few herb and tomato plants and we are ready to watch everything grow! I've said it before, but I plan to be a bit more generous with our garden this year. last year I was way too stingy because i thought that I was going to can or freeze or pickle ALL of it! It turned out that I don't actually know how to do that, so this year I'll be learning about it AND I'll be sharing. Maybe I'll have to have a garden party!

In honor of our budding veggies I'd like to suggest 4 books about the life/plant cycles.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Thomas' Day Out

Daddy and Fischy went to a buddy's birthday party at Thomas' Day Out. They played games, played with trains, and even got to ride Thomas while eating a giant cookie! I'm sorry that I missed it, but it sounds like they had a blast! As soon as I came home from my Girls' Weekend, Fisch was excited to tell me about "Thomas sitting on the tracks". Thanks Lauren for a great party, wish I could have been there. It sounds like the chilly weather didn't hinder the fun at all! Hooray!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sorry, I couldn't resist: P-Mate

Female Freedom has developed a product to help women keep their privates hidden and their shoes dry when there isn't a potty around. While I can appreciate the convenience... it is just a bit too weird for me. Check out the photos here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

More thoughts on blogging my 29 day challenge

After feeling like blogging my daily gifts felt like bragging ( I also posted that on the 29 day giving challenge website), I received a comment from Cami Walker, the founder of the project.

Hi there. You don't have to blog every day. You can share stories whenever
you feel moved to. The intention behind sharing the stories is to help inspire
others to give... not to "brag." Sharing the stories also helps you acknowledge
yourself and be more mindful about your gifts and we get get gift ideas from
each other from reading the posts.

So, what I have concluded is that I'll share my gifts and experiences on the 29DGC website, and share my thoughts and feelings here, when I feel like I have something interesting to say.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I've just signed the ONE Declaration committing myself to help fight the
emergency of global AIDS and extreme poverty. I'm asking you to make that
commitment, too, by adding your voice. I think your name belongs on that
declaration, too. You can put it there by visiting: ONE is a new
effort by Americans to rally Americans - one by one. So far, over two million
have signed the declaration in support of a historic pact for compassion and
justice to help the poorest people of the world. Together as ONE we can make a

I was inspired to make a difference after looking at James Nachtwey's piercing photos on famine. His photographs are very moving and upsetting, so keep that in mind before you click. (Click on the famine gallery, although all are worth seeing.)

"I have been a witness, and these pictures are
testimony. The events I have recorded should
not be forgotten and must not be
-James Nachtwey-

Wordless Wednesday: Fisch found a new friend (in our house!!?!)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Day 2 of my 29 day Giving Challenge

I've had a realization. After today's gift (to a person not a dog), I've realized that blogging about what I gave kind of feels strange to me. It feels as though I am writing it in order for everyone to see what a nice person I am or for some other recognition. That feels to me as defeating my purpose. It also seems that if the recipient of my gift were to read my blog, then they might feel like they were my project rather than a friend or deserving person. So, in lieu of daily blogging about it, I am going to blog at the end of each week to journal my feelings and experiences rather than my actual gifts. Maybe I'm missing the boat here, but this is what feels right for my personal Giving Challenge.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Day 1 of my 29 day Giving Challenge goes to the dogs!

Well, day 1 was not life changing, I gave my son a swimming pool, which my 2 big dogs promptly took over. They played and played and loved every minute of it. Instead of yelling at them to get out, I gave them pool time. I don't know if it counts to give your gift to your dogs, but I really think they deserve it. They are 10 years old and have been wonderful companions to my husband and I, and now to Fischer. they used to be the "main event" in our house and have gracefully (usually) slipped into the shadows to let Fischer have all of the attention. I know it has been difficult. They get left out and scolded a lot now, but they have remained loyal friends. I think I'll let them take a dip every day this summer!

Sophie and Kaia going for a dip

I bought Fisch a little swimming pool today, I'm thinking I should have bought more than one! I was just going to fill it with water while he napped so that the sun could warm it a bit, instead I'll have to refill it with clean water right before he gets in!

The 29 Day Giving Challenge

The 29 Day Giving Challenge is for anyone who'd like to make a difference in their life. You give away one thing for every day for 29 days. that's it. No rules, just giving. You can give money, objects, time, prayers, etc.
Why? Because to see the world change, we have to do something to change the
world. Plus, the best way to attract abundance into your life is to be in a
perpetual state of giving and gratitude. Be an important part of the global
giving movement that inspires more generosity on our planet.

Yesterday I was going for a walk with Fischer when I found $20 on the road. I decided to set it aside in case I need it during my 29 Day Giving Challenge. I feel like this is going to be a good way to help me focus on others. I'll post each day about how the challenge is going. Then I'll share my story on the Giving website (that's part of the project). I'd like to encourage you to try it with me.

You can read about others' experiences here.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Don't want to take a nap? Quietly destroy your room and paint your body with butt paste!

After a bath and getting the room all cleaned up (by the way, butt paste doesn't really wash out of your hair - too greasy), he was squeaky clean until...

And... Yes girls, he is single!

(Uncle Jay picked out the shirt - thank you - it works!)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Go ahead flaunt it: Wear your Despair

So hilarious! Thanks for the link, Angela! The only problem is, it is really the kind of t-shirt a person has to buy for himself, I don't think it would go over too well as a gift! Damn funny though! Click the squares at the bottom of this webpage for all of the categories. Then click around, they have some great lithographs too! This site was kind of a pick-me-up for me for some strange reason!

Artist in the making

This is a picture of a crocodile with a broken leg and the letter "U". How wonderful to be able to draw something, stand back, and decide what it is! Talk about artistic liberties! I was reading the Savvy Source newsletter yesterday and it is all about art this month. They had many simple ideas to introduce art to your child that do not necessarily include a big production or mess! (Yes, Emily, I have let Fischer paint with real paint before! But, only once.). Personally I hate paint, markers and crayons - they can all be easily eaten and they all easily draw on non-paper surfaces! But there are others things you can use for art like pipe cleaners (no mess), painting with water (have you tried taking a bunch of paintbrushes and sponges and letting your kids go to town "painting" the sidewalk, driveway and house?), or what about those foamy stickers? I know that Wanda's little almost 2-year-old sat and put stickers on paper for almost an hour all by herself! By the way, I've heard about peeling the stickers off and sticking them to a rubbery placemat so that they can easily be stuck and re-stuck for lots of sticker fun for a toddler. I'd need to try that approach with Fisch, because he has a really hard time getting the paper backing off the stickers by himself.

So the Savvy Source was talking about their top 10 artists to introduce your toddler to. I really thought that they would be talking about children's illustrators.... but no, they were talking about classic artists.
Thinking about art in the lives of our little ones this week, we asked
ourselves: if we were to make a list of the ten best artists to introduce to our
preschoolers, who would be on it? Which artists would capture our little ones'
imaginations, make them curious, inspire them, make them laugh, puzzle, wonder?
They list artists such as Raphael, Degas, Matisse, and O'Keefe (who by the way is totally a Kappa Delta sister of mine). Honestly I hadn't thought to introduce Fisch to these types of artists yet. I was thinking I was doing pretty good to have colored pencils handy all of the time! We'll definitely be browsing the library for some great art books. I'll let you know if I find any gems, and please let me know if you have any favorites too!
While we are on the subject of creating art, I have a few products that I'd like to mention.

Emily bought Fisch some super-fabulous colored pencils, they are chunky, and when you write with them the color is bright and smooth. They are Crayola Write Start.

Also as I was reading the Savvy Source and a few other sites, I came across Squiggles. It is a giant drawing pad with lots of drawing starters, like designing t-shirts. It looked really fun! I don't think it would be right for Fisch at this point, but older kiddos would probably have a blast! The Scribbles book might be a fun one to try with him.

Another drawing pad is the Doodles at Dinner: 36 Tear-Off Placemats by Deborah Zemke tear-off placemats. How perfect, especially for theose restaurants that don't have paper placemats! These placemats even have different skills to practice like writing and numbers and what not.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Entice your kids to practice reading with Starfall is a terrific free website with many quality games and activities to help kids learn to read. There are activities for practicing letter identification and letter sounds, for sounding out new words, for reading sight words, and repetitive print, and finally to read easy and interesting stories. This is definitely a valuable site to have on hand for any age, from the emergent reader to the struggling reader, I think any kid could find this site helpful and fun. I use it with one of the students that I tutor. I was going to test out the letter activities with Fisch - I think that I'll have to man the mouse right now, but he always wants to "play a game" on the computer - so he should be excited. I know that my mother-in-law 9also a special education teacher) has recommended the site to many parents and she has also bought and used a lot of the materials.
I'm sure that I don't need to say this, but I'm going to anyway. No computer game is EVER going to take the place of books and reading with your child. However, it is a fun way to practice, to build confidences, and to help them gain interest in reading.
Update: Fischer loves the ABC games.

Book of the day

Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow, Lenny Lipton and Eric Puybaret is a new favorite with Fischer. Wanda sent it to him for his birthday in February, and now we read it everyday! The pictures are whimsical and imaginative, really beautiful and different. The words are the song lyrics. Our copy came with a CD of Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul and Mary) singing the song with his daughter, Bethany. Fischer loves to sing about Puff and tonight we listened to that song on his CD 4 times before bed. I'll have to get him to sing it on video so that you all can hear. It is precious. The other day he sang a duet with Grandma Betsy while she played her guitar! Andy said it was so sweet! On Mother's Day Aunt Beth and MamaBetsy sang it while reading the book to him, they have beautiful voices. I hope Fisch got those genes!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Jim Gill is good family fun

photo by Ralph Weisheit

Jim Gill leads concerts of music & playthroughout the country at schools,
libraries and theaters.A concert with Jim Gill is an active sing-along and
clap-along. Jim bangs out energetic rhythms on his banjo while everyone sings,
claps, jumps, dances and even sneezes along.

My mom and I took Fischer and BFF to a Jim Gill concert recently and it was SO much fun! They loved it! They danced and sang and jumped and hugged and had a fabulous evening. It was really crowded so I didn't get very good pictures, but I wish I'd had my video camera because it was sooo cute! Jim did an awesome job of engaging his jam-packed audience of little ones. Everybody seemed to be having a fantastic time groovin' with him.
I guess you can pick up his CDs at your local library, I have to check it out. You can also buy them on his website or at his concerts. I think his music is perfect for little ones and/or for classrooms who have students who need a lot of actions and interactive songs to keep their students' attention. I would have loved to use this with both my second graders and my students with special needs - who were a little bit older.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Save the world one Small Change at a time

I just received an email from Cody about this really easy and wonderful way to give! Country Crock and America's Second Harvest have teamed up to give you and I a chance to donate a meal to a family in need. All you have to do is go to Your Family Table website and share one small change that you and your family have made to improve your health. That's it! My story made the 1,245,797th meal donated. Jump on board, it only takes a minute.
Your support can change lives.
Food provides the foundation for success and growth in life. America’s Second Harvest Network provides food assistance to 25 million people each year, including nearly nine million children. Through the power of our Network of emergency food providers, every dollar you donate provides 16 meals, and the hope of a brighter and more fulfilling tomorrow.
Thanks Cody, I really appreciate the information and I'm happy to be able to share your project!

Too fab gift idea!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day. I sure did. We had a lovely BBQ with all of the relatives and Andy and Fischer gave me a fabulous book. Andy made it and it is wonderful. I wish you could read it. It is all about Fischer and me... too precious! It is kind of patterned after the "No, David" books, except it is all photos of Fisch!
Anyway, I have been dying to blog about Rachel Analeise over at Etsy. She makes some fabulous jewelry pieces, but I recently ordered personalized pendants for Fischer's grandmas and great-grandmas. He drew a few pictures and I sent them to Rachel. She shrunk them down and turned them into necklaces. Everyone LOVED them! I should have taken a picture, shoot! Anyway, she was really great to work with, the necklaces were very professional and high quality and it was incredibly affordable. SO great!!! You could do it for next mother's day or maybe grandma's birthday! She can also put photos on pendants or what not. Check her out.
By the way, do you know about Etsy? It is a place to buy or sell handmade items. There are many, many, many beautiful items. Definitely worth looking into!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Friday, May 9, 2008

Have you hugged a REAL Daddy today?

A majority of Americans have identified the absence of the father from the home
as the most significant family or social problem facing America. In a
lighthearted manner, this campaign demonstrates the critical role fathers play
in their children’s lives, and provides information on becoming a better dad.

Check out these great ads about responsible fathers! Then give a Great Daddy in your life some well deserved lovin'. I know that I will!

The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC) supports the Administration for Children and Families' Office of Family Assistance's
efforts to assist States and communities to promote and support
Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Marriage.

Thanks Goodyblog for the info!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Self Help

Body, appearance, weight, health, exercise, food... It is all always on the brain. You too? There is an inner struggle that I have with my own body image. Of course I look in the mirror and think I'm fat and ugly, but then believe it or not, there are times I look in the mirror and think that I'm kind of pretty!
There is a part of me that wants to be happy with who I am and what I look like, but there is this other part that can't be happy with what I look like because I am not the person I want to be. I'm sure the person I want to be will always be changing, so shouldn't I be happy with the person who is doing her best to get there? Well, I don't think that I'm doing my best. I know I could do better. Sometimes I think I should try to cut myself some slack... but then I also think... am I lowering my expectations for myself because I'm lazy? Maybe.
I want to be the kind of person who does what she sets out to do. I'm not even talking about accomplishing big dreams or goals at this point, I'm talking about my To Do list and my desired routines. For some reason all of that starts to feel a bit overwhelming... it really shouldn't.
I have decided to make small changes each month, and a few long term and attainable goals. This week I have started one of my changes. I have a small list of things that I'd like to do everyday and I have it posted on a door (Andy has posted his list there too). We check them off each night. So far (it has been 4 days), today will be the first day that I have accomplished all of them. I have exercised, I have kept track of my WW points (although I did go over my allotment - but my goal is just to keep track at this point), I have cleaned one thing that isn't a daily chore, I have moved one load of laundry through and I have done my daily chores before bed. Now If I get myself to bed by 10, I will have had a "perfect" day.
  1. Exercising - It isn't so much that I am trying to turn into a super model (although, I wouldn't mind if I did), but I'd like to have exercise be part of my lifestyle, not something I have to do. Exercise makes me feel good and obviously helps me to be healthy.
  2. Weight Watcher Points - Yes I am trying to lose weight. I am not at a comfortable nor healthy weight and my body interferes with my desired lifestyle. I hate when Sheila or Kristy want to go hiking and I have to come up with some lame excuse because I don't want to have a heart attack on the mountain! The worst part is, I love hiking and I love being in the mountains and I want Fischer to LOVE it too. So... I've got to do something about this.
  3. Cleaning is a source of stress for me. I absolutely hate it! I've tried to fake loving it in hopes that I'll truly love it one day - didn't work. I've tried to see God in a cleaning task and make it spiritual and be thankful that I can make a clean home for my family - worked for a minute. The problem is, that if I let the cleaning chores go for too long, they become way too big and too hard and I need a week to get it under control - and when do I have a week to do that? Plus, with chores hanging over my head, I can't really enjoy the times that I'm relaxing. So, I've resolved to clean one thing a day and pretty soon those cleaning tasks will be more manageable and easily maintained.
  4. Laundry is another mountain I like to procrastinate. Therefor, I have resolved to move at least one load through every day, until this too is at a more manageable and maintainable level.
  5. Finally, my everyday chores. Just the silly stuff like making the bed, cleaning up after dinner, picking up the toys etc. It is stuff that if I don't do one day, the next morning isn't quite as pleasant. AND while I almost always accomplish this, I still put it on the list so that I could praise myself for it!

So those are my 5 changes for this month, and I think they are quite doable. My one goal is to run 150 miles before my birthday. That is less than 12 a week. I can totally do that! I've put a ticker below (at the bottom of my blog), so that you can watch me check off my miles and melt away my pounds. I figure that if I make it public, that will be just one more incentive to stick to it.

My ultimate goal is to be happy with myself and I know that there are plenty more factors to the equation, but this is where I am starting.

BTW, I recently found a fun and inspiring site called Adios a body image site for every body. I really liked reading "7 Ways to Love Your Body Through Thick and Thin".

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Dust off the old imagination

Why is it that we spend all of this money and effort on toys and activities for our little ones and they find the most excitement out of the free and the ordinary?

I took Fischer and BFF to meet friends at a fun new playground with all kinds of fabulous equipment. What did they love the most? The wood chips on the ground. They threw them, they tasted them, they stirred them up to "cook" with them, they lined the slides with them... fun times!

After getting to tour and "drive" the big fire truck, Fisch came home to practice climbing "ladders" the way the firemen were doing it.
I put Fisch and BFF in the bathtub with a million toys to choose from, and they fought over a plastic kitchen cup and an empty shampoo bottle!

At home he has many many toys but can spend the most time playing with the vacuum wand, yardstick, or ladle.

Do we try too hard? Do they really need all of the toys and special activities? I'd feel sorry for Fisch if he didn't have any toys... but wouldn't he just make toys out of household items? Isn't that more creative, more imaginative? Sometimes I think we lose sight of what is really important. Kids should be having fun, learning, exploring, and imagining. As Fischer's imagination has been blossoming, he likes too pretend that he has all kinds of things out of thin air. He'll hand Andy and I an invisible baby, or pay the cashier with invisible money. He pretends to be chased by invisible monsters or he looks out the window claiming there are invisible crabs on our deck.

I find that we spend the most time enjoying things that we've created. He likes to sort cereal and snacks into separate bowls. We count milk jug lids and stick them into a little slot we cut into a cottage cheese container. We practice colors by cutting magazine pictures out and sorting them on a closet door.We play hide and seek with the dogs. Fischer made a "birdhouse" out of couch cushions the other day. He also loves to use the camera tripod as a microphone and put on little shows.

I guess what I am trying to remind myself is that I don't need to get him all of the latest toys or make sure that he goes out on a million outings each week. We can relax, and stay home and enjoy each other and find new uses for all of the things that we already have!

Plus, you have to admit the less you buy... the less waste you are creating. I know that Wanda likes to make sure that all of her kids' toys are heirloom quality and imagination powered. No batteries, sturdy, and non-plastic toys.