Thursday, July 31, 2008

Frozen Fun

Well, we're really hot around these parts... so I thought I'd find some cool and refreshing activities to help us beat the heat. Here are some goodies that I found on the web and I thought I'd share. Ice is cheap - and cheap is always fun!

  • My favorite activity of the new finds are the Ice Treasures over at Let's Explore. They froze lots of little treasures in a block of ice and let the kids have at it with various excavating tools. Looks like a ton of fun!

  • I also really like the Ice Cube Necklace at FamilyFun. It is cute and easy and could really be made over and over!

  • PBSkids has a fun party game for 6 or more friends called Ice Cube Melt. I could see the competition and frozen fingers getting fierce for some kiddos.

  • MommySavers listed a fun and frugal way to Paint with Ice Cubes for toddlers.

  • The Educator's Reference desk had a easy lesson and experiment: What will keep ice cold?

  • And what for furry four-legged children??? Don't forget that you can put your cake pans full of water in the freezer and give your pups some ice blocks to chew on and play with. You might even hide some rawhide treats in the ice for them to excavate!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Grandma walks into the kitchen this afternoon while Fisch is sitting on a stool eating PB&J.

Grandma: Hi Fischer! How are you?

Fischer: I just... growing.

Wordless Wednesday: Ummm...Aquariass?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Friends for GOOD: You can help

I'd like to highlight a few friends (actually legit friends that I know in person) that are trying to do good for someone else. If you are looking for a way to give back... here are some people who could use your support.

  1. Matthew Brahana is raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Through the "Lock-up (for good)" project he is trying to raise "bail", $1600. This amount will pay tuition for 2 kids with Muscular Dystrophy to go to summer camp. I know from my experiences working at camps for people with special needs, how valuable it is for children who are struggling with a disability or an illness to meet other children who are "just like them". It makes your heart just burst to see them make those kind of connections. You can donate ANY amount (every dollar helps) to Matt to help him reach his goal on behalf of MDA. Send checks (payable to MDA) to: Matthew Brahana 490 North 31st Street, Suite 500 Billings, MT 59101.
  2. Renee Cundick of "And They All Lived Happily Ever After" is making baby blankets and hats for the babies in the NICU at Primary Children's Hospital this Christmas. She has started recruiting volunteers now to make infant hats and crib-size (36X42) blankets in order to have 60 of each by Christmas. You can go here to read her story about her son's stay in the NICU which has inspired this annual project. For more details or to contact her, check out her blog.
  3. Meghann Bell is raising money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She is a Leukemia survivor herself, and is raising money via the Team in Training Project to fund research for blood cancers, this very funding made her recovery possible through a new drug called Gleevec. She is training to run the Nike Women's Marathon this fall, and raising money as she goes. You can read her story and donate to her cause on her website.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A public apology

The following letter is a response to Ms. Colborn's comment, left here after she read the quick and thoughtless blurb I wrote about her book, Rainy Day Slug.

Dear Ms. Colborn,

I'd like to apologize for the poor choice of words I used to describe the writing in your book. While, I do find the flow to be a little less than smooth, I actually really like the book. My son loves it and my husband and I read it to him all of the time. I also used it in my classroom, specifically with my students who have special needs. You are correct in saying that children love the language you used. I have experienced that first hand and feel terrible that I had so off-handedly and un-thinkingly called it "lame".

In my Special Education class we often followed the reading of the story with making slug slime! The kids loved it and the part about the slug on the boy's cheek... was of course their favorite! It is Fischer's favorite part too. The "EEEWWWW" was from me... and I am so obviously... an ass. So I want to publicly apologize and let my readers know that I do like this book, and I have used it in the classroom, and I do find it valuable for children.

Also, I'd like to say that the idea that you have written this book with your daughter and had it published is beautiful. I could only dream of an experience like that. Although I love to read and collect children's books, my skills as a writer are severely impaired.

Again, I'd like to apologize for the insult and the feelings it caused. I assure you that I feel quite humiliated and will think before I write next time.



PS Have you read this? Unfortunately, it probably describes me!!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sharpen math skills for the new school year has interactive math tools that help your kids brush up on the basic operations(+-x/). Having the basic operations on "automatic" helps with more difficult equations (you know, the ones with multiple operations). I played around on the site, and found that I'm a bit rusty in some areas. This site is geared for elementary and middle school students but works great for all ages and abilities. The flash cards and games can be individualized to meet the student's needs.

Interactive Math: Strengthen basic math and other skills with interactive educational tools. The Internet is a great reference. Go beyond reading on the web and begin practicing on the web. The Timed Flashcards and Variable Solving games have a high score board to gauge progress.
Games: Play a game of
Math Invaders.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Save the world by being happy?!

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

I've received this from a few different people and thought I'd better share it here. Turn up your volume and... Smile!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

We're Back

We are home from Denver and we had a fabulous trip!! Fischer and BFF loved playing with their friends.

They played kitchen, dolls dress-up, slides and toys with I2.
They played squirt guns, spies, and Star Wars and other so-called "violent stuff" with P6.
They played dinosaurs, vehicles, bikes and Lightsabers with Q4.

They played hard and fought hard everyday. Fischer, BFF and I2 spent a lot of time learning about cause and effect as they tormented each other! We discovered that both BFF and I2 can hold their own and will not give up - ever!!! Meanwhile, Fisch gave into them and cried about it every time!
(If the slide shows below are trying to make you do something, just refresh the page. They should just go ahead and show you the pics.)

While we were there we went to the Downtown Aquarium. All of the kids had a really great time and loved looking at the fish and the tigers! Fischer and I2 enjoyed having snacks and running from exhibit to exhibit. Fischer was a scared of the flash flood storm, but BFF loved it! We took some pics of Dino while we were there.

We went to the Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve. We went for a little hike that Fischer hated (he was having a bad day). He proclaimed to everyone that he did "not want to have any fun!". The rest of us thought the area was beautiful and we admired all of the flowers and butterflies. Fischer perked up when we went into the Nature Center. He loved the puppets, head phones, binoculars and all of the great animal displays.

The kids loved the Montclair Recreation Center where we went swimming a few times. They had a large shallow area for toddlers with fountains and slides.

We went to many different parks and some great fountains. The kids played and played.

I think the kids loved just being together in the house and yard eating, playing, sleeping, bathing and relaxing. Fisch and BFF got a taste of "big family" life.

One funny thing:

The first morning we were there, I woke up to P6 in my room with a very serious question to ask.

P6: "So are you two married or do you just live together?"

Me: "Who? Me and Fischer?"

P6: "No. You and Aunt Sheila?"

One not-so funny thing:

I fell asleep on the bed one afternoon and woke to find Fischer had painted his face, his clothes, the portable DVD player, the sheets, the table, the lamp, and the DVDs with my make-up foundation!!!!! I now know that it stains.

PS: I hope you didn't get motion sickness from all of the slide shows going at once!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Stuck in a toilet seat

Well we are here in Denver. The car trip went well, and my car activities worked out nicely. It would have been even better had I gotten that snack and play travel tray. Because the cookie sheets were a bit tipsy. However, they did their job.

Also, the snack mix has gotten rave reviews from all 5 kids. P6 said that it is "the best snack mix in the world!!!"

All has gone well, other than Fischer getting the Dora toilet seat stuck around his neck this morning. The sickest part is that he kept putting his mouth on it!!! Gag! Anyway, it scraped up his ears a bit, but we got it off!

Fisch and Andy have been talking via web cam every night. Andy even read him a story tonight.
So cute.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The ultimate snack pack!

This lovely medley of snacks (5 kinds of cereal, goldfish, pretzels, animal crackers, etc) will be perfect for our car trip and for scooping out into baggies on our way to... anywhere! This fabulous idea was borrowed from Renee of and they all lived happily ever after... who was inspired by Jon & Kate Plus Eight! See how we all just help each other?!? Awww.

Friday, July 11, 2008

How to help a toddler not kill mommy in the car

Sheila, BFF, Fischer and I are leaving at 4 am tomorrow morning for a long road trip to visit our other best friend and her family. We'll be there for a week. We are really excited, but I'm sure you can imagine the possibilities for the roadtrip part with two 2-year-olds!!!

"I want to get out! I need something to eat! I need a drink! I need to go potty! Stop saying that! BFF keeps saying that! BFF not listening! Don't sing that part! Fischer not listening! Fischer don't touch! That's Mine! I want that! BFF not sharing! Fischer not sharing!! Mommy! mommy! Mommy! mommy!"
All the while, sheila and I will be popping Advil and cranking up the music to try to drown them out.

Sooo.... We have some activities planned. Sheila bought some new and novel toys for them, we have our portable DVD player and books, and ... drum roll please...some FABULOUS CAR FUN!!!

I got the idea for these great activity bags from Melissa's Chasing Cheerios' toddler activity bags and she was inspired from Megret's preschool activity bags, and so on... that's how mom's (and teachers) do it. We take an idea and adapt it for ourselves and our "people".

Here are the Chasing Cheerios bags:
I made a bunch of activities that were more conducive to Fisch and BFF, many of them were quite similar. I have writing, felt boards, play dough, magnets, letters, sorting, lacing, blocks, matching, etc. I noticed that Melissa had used her activities with a cookie tray. She did the activities on an airplane where her little one was parked right next to a parent for help. Problem: BFF and Fisch are going to be in the back seat of the car where we can't help them. So I needed to make some adaptions to the activities. First, they are all things that can be done completely independently. Second I have made some very simple adaptions to the tray to help prevent everything from rolling off.

For instance, for sorting, I have velcroed the containers to a foam place mat that fits inside the tray. This way all of the containers and manipulatives won't get spilled within the first second. I can also remove a container or two depending on how many things we're sorting.

For lacing (pasta and lacing cards), picking up metals with a magnet wand, matching game, and blocks, I have put a piece of rubber drawer liner into the tray. For the pasta beads, I used pipe cleaners with buttons on the end to make sure that they could do it easily without help.

I have a stiff felt liner for the felt boards (don't make fun - I'm not an artist). I also cut the loops off of decorative buttons and glued felt to the backs to give us some fun manipulatives for our felt pictures.
The tray itself is obviously good for magnet letters and shapes, but also perfect for play dough.

Now the only trick is to get them to think this is as great as I do! Oh, and for me not to freak out when they destroy it all and chuck it out the window!!! Wish us luck. I'll let you know how it goes!!!
By the way, these activity bags will be great for restaurants, visiting kidless homes, and to toss one in my purse (the tray is not necessary for all).

Thursday, July 10, 2008


In the Aviary restroom, in the BIG stall, Fischer is sitting on the potty and BFF is jumping around breathing like a bunny... Fischer says:

"BFF trying to smell my pee."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Fork? No... Forklift!

Fischer has been eating with this:

He needs these:

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


In the truck on the way home from a BBQ:

"Daddy, where me you going?"


"I don't want to go home."

"Where do you want to go?"

"Let's go to... last week."

"That'll be pretty hard."

"Yeah, it's kind of like too far away!"

Monday, July 7, 2008

Our Swap Friend

We chose a dinosaur for our swap "friend" for the Little People Swap. We were supposed to choose or make a soft friend to take pictures of doing all of the things we are doing this summer. We will send the dino, his scrapbook, and other fun goodies to our swap partner next month. Our partner is California girl! We're excited to "meet" her via the care package. She is younger than Fisch, but has a lot of the same interests! We've been taking the Dino everywhere. I thought I'd show a few of our pics so far.

Dino is hidden in this pic, Fisch and BFF shared him at the zoo, they are both holding him.

Here he is acting as co-pilot with Fisch in an airplane.

Here he is with Fisch and TnT in the mountains. Dino met some new plush puppy friends!

Dino lounging by the pool.

The last four chronicle the beginning of a new friendship. First, you see Dino patiently waiting to share a piece of bread with a new friend.

Then you see that the new friend is no friend at all! He pushed Dino down and took the bread!!! How rude!

Now you see that the new friend isn't all bad. He just had a bit of social anxiety and now would like to make amends with Dino.

Dino, being the forgiving type, has decided to give the new friend a chance. First impressions are often wrong. They get to know each other over a bit of cinnamon swirl bread.

A life long friendship is born... or at least until the bread runs out!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Inspiration on Sunday

Me, my mom, her mom, her mom's mom, her mom's mom's mom, her mom's mom's mom's mom.

Moms and people who have moms, all need to be reminded about moms once in awhile. I received this as an email and deleted it before I really appreciated its meaning. I found it again, over here.

Perspective: The Invisible Woman

It started to happen gradually¦ One day I was walking my son Jake to school. I was holding his hand and we were about to cross the street when the crossing guard said to him, “Who is that with you, young fella?”“Nobody,” he shrugged. Nobody? The crossing guard and I laughed. My son is only 5, but as we crossed the street I thought, “Oh my goodness, nobody?”

I would walk into a room and no one would notice. I would say something to my family - like “Turn the TV down, please” - and nothing would happen. Nobody would get up, or even make a move for the remote. I would stand there for a minute, and then I would say again, a little louder,“Would someone turn the TV down?” Nothing. Just the other night my husband and I were out at a party. We’d been there for about three hours and I was ready to leave. I noticed he was talking to a friend from work. So I walked over, and when there was a break in the conversation, I whispered, “I’m ready to go when you are.” He just kept right on talking. I’m invisible.

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, “Can’t you see I’m on the phone?” Obviously not. No one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I’m invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, “What time is it?” I’m a satellite guide to answer, “What number is the Disney Channel?” I’m a car to order, “Right around 5:30, please.” I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.
She’s going¸ she’s going¸ she’s gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip,and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, “I brought you this.”

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: “To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.

These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything. A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, “Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it”. And the workman replied, “Because God sees.” I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, “I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.”

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, “My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.” That would mean I’d built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, “You’re gonna love it there.”

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Update: I just found this story in a beautiful hardcover book: The Invisible Woman by Nicole Johnson, a lovely gift idea.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


A million times a day, we hear: "Where me, you going?"

Last night we tried to teach him to say "Where are we going?".

It ended up as: "Where me, you, we going?"


Call me the Bird lady!

Would you believe that Thursday I came in contact with ANOTHER distressed bird? What in the world? This was a tiny baby something, probably a robin (a nestling). It was on the ground under a tree in the park. It was barely strong enough to hold its own head up. It kept tipping onto its face. Kristy and I were running with Fisch in the park when we saw a little dog pawing it. Kristy yelled at the oblivious owner to pull her dog off. We inspected it and deliberated over it for a VERY long time. Fischer thought we should take it to the hospital. Kristy suggested moving it into a safer area hidden under a tree. I was racking my brain for what was the "right" thing to do. In the end I scooped it up with a diaper and hid it under a tree. Andy (via cellphone) thought we should let nature run its course. I remembered that a baby's bird best chance for survival was with its parents, so I hope they found it.
As an afterthought, I wondered if the bird was possibly kicked out of the nest for being too weak. OMG, don't tell me that I just left a special needs bird alone to die?! I don't want to go back downtown to check on it, because I'm afraid it will be dead, and I can't handle that guilt. Poor little baby!

The Bird lady's other recent encounters: the juvenile robin attacked by fat dog and the trespassing pigeon.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July

The song, the video, the birth dates, the lives.... I will not forget the sacrifices.

Today I will take a moment to thank God for the men and women who have died for my freedom. I will thank God for the families who supported these soldiers. I will thank God for the men and women who have fought and are still fighting... for me... for my family... for you.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Up-cycle your old T in a fun new way

Turn an old favorite T-shirt or a fun novelty or souvenir shirt into something that will get some use and save the environment of another plastic grocery sack! Of course, Martha knows the way! (Don't hold her against this great idea!) I love this! It would even be cute for some of your kiddies fave too-small tees. The sewing is sooo minimal, that even I could do it. You only sew the bottom of the shirt together, everything else is just cutting. Easy, not to mention - washable!Thanks Brandy for the info!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Book of the Day

Goldilocks And The Three Bears by Jim Aylesworth and Barbara Mc Clintock AKA "Bears, get out of my bed", is a new favorite around here. An undisputed classic is finding love in a new generation. We've been enjoying all of the oldies this month: The Gingerbread Man, Three Little Kittens, The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, etc. These edgy (yes edgy -main characters are being eaten by wolves all over the place) tales are fun all over again.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What can he do now?

Updates for the fam and friends.

  • Fischer is 28 months old, approx 37.5 inches and 30 lbs.
  • He bonked his front teeth at the beginning of June and now one has turned gray.
  • He still loves books, books, and more books.
  • He can recite his phone number.
  • He loves to sing and dance.
  • He still loves ALL kinds of vehicles.
  • He has added bowling to his list of favorite sports (baseball, hockey, football, golf, tennis, and basketball). His very favorites seem to be basketball and all kinds of "whacking balls".
  • He wants to be a fireman when he grows up.
  • After a regression in potty training, he has had dry underwear for 4 days!!!
  • His biggest worry in life? Who is or isn't wearing a helmet on their bike or motorcycle.
  • He is sleeping in his big-boy bed.
  • Weened the binky and blankies back to bed-time only.
  • Loves to eat strawberries out of the garden.
  • Talks and talks and talks (unless we want him to).
  • He likes to use words like "actually", "also", "plenty", "not yet" and "I don't think so".