She Used To Be A Slow Eater


She's always been willing to try new foods and has a very short list of things she does not like (which includes pickles and spicy foods!), but she has always taken a long time to eat her meals.

One time, she told me, "Daddy eats his food fast, but I don't.  I eat my food slowly."  

Today, I'm afraid she quadrupled the time she takes to eat.

It started with a simple question:  "Mommy, how long does it take for my food to get into my tummy?"

"Not long," I answered.  "It moves pretty fast."

"How fast?"

"Well," I pointed at her orange slices.  "Put an orange in your mouth."  I watched her chew and swallow it.  "Now count to ten."

"Fast or slow?"

"Either."

"1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10."  She looked at me.

"That orange is already in your tummy!"

"Really?  That was so fast!"

"Yep."

"I'm going to do it again!"  She chewed another slice, swallowed, and counted to ten.  Then she giggled and patted her tummy.  She continued to laugh, count to ten, and check on her tummy every time she took another bite for the rest of the meal!

I don't think "slow eater" even begins to describe her anymore!  

Betty Crocker Molasses Cookies (Review and Giveaway!!)


Cookies are an essential staple at our house!  We have them for dessert on "Family Night," I nibble them as snacks during the day, and sometimes--after the kids are in bed--we have them with a little ice-cream and a movie!  (Don't tell the kids!)  Betty Crocker's Molasses Cookie mix is absolutely wonderful.  The cookies are soft and have a great texture.  Even the batter smells delicious!  In the eight minutes they took to cook, the entire house filled with a sweet, spice cake-like aroma.  Suddenly, it felt like fall!  I've already started recommending these cookies to people!

You can go here for a  fabulous coupon for 75 cents off this Molasses Cookie mix!

And to make the season even more exciting, I get to offer the prize package pictured above to one of you!  One lucky reader will win a free Betty Crocker Molasses Cookie mix, a non-stick baking pan, a mixing spoon, and an apron!  Who doesn't love free cookies?!

To Enter:  

Mandatory Entry:  Leave a comment below telling me your favorite occasion for cooking spice cookies!

Optional Entries: 

1.  Follow this blog and leave a comment telling me so.
2.  Visit the Betty Crocker website and leave a comment telling me what product you would most like to try from them and why.
3.  Like Betty Crocker on Facebook and leave a comment telling me your Facebook name.
4.  Follow Betty Crocker on Twitter and leave a comment telling me your Twitter name.

To Win:  Each entry will receive a number and I will use random.org to choose a winner on Thursday, October 6th.  Entries will be accepted until noon CST on Thursday, October 6th.  I will contact the winner on Thursday.

Disclaimer:  The product, information, and prize pack has been provided by Betty Crocker through MyBlogSpark.  All Opinions are my own!

Teach Spanish with BocaBeth (Review and Giveaway!)

Speaking Spanish is a fabulous skill...that I don't have.  Yet, I want to give that skill to my children.  Not having something, however, makes it hard to give.  This is why I am happy to introduce the BocaBeth program.



I wish I had discovered BocaBeth when Kaia was younger!  When we all sat down to watch the 20-minute lesson on the I Like Animals / Me gustan los animales DVD, Kaia, Harry, and our 2-year old friend were fascinated by lions yawning, zebras running, monkeys swinging, and kids like themselves dancing and singing.  They were happy to repeat words with me and act out songs like 5 Little Monkeys.  Kaia actually told me the 5 Little Monkeys song is her favorite!

How does the program work?  BocaBeth focuses around music and lessons that use Spanish and English side-by-side.  5 Little Monkeys, for example, sings alternating verses in English and Spanish.  Other songs, like Beso is Kiss, are even more direct in their instruction.  For actual samples of the music, visit Bocabeth's YouTube Channel.

The program encourages you to use their puppet as the teacher/maestra.  This is brilliant!  Toddlers and preschoolers love talking to the puppet, giving her hugs, and learning from her.

BocaBeth's activity books/coloring books improve fine coordination and review certain vocabulary like shapes and foods.  Kaia liked them so much that she actually told me to make copies of the pages we were using so she could keep the books in perfect condition!

BocaBeth has a huge variety of learning products!  Musical instruments, CDs, DVDs, and so much more!  And the best part...I'm actually learning some Spanish too!  It's not like taking a class at college, but I've already been able to start throwing out phrases that relate to our daily life.  For example, today while we were running I announced, "Kaia likes correr!" and she knew "correr" meant to run.  How cool is that!

Harry, who just hit 16 months, doesn't talk a lot.  He communicates wonderfully, but it is mostly through gestures and grunts (quite the little man already!).  I am so excited for him to hear the English and Spanish as he learns to form words.  There is so much research that indicates early exposure to a second language helps young children's development.

And to make it even more exciting, BocaBeth is offering one of you a free sample of their products!


Here's the Giveaway:  One lucky reader will win a free I like Animals/Me gustan los animales DVD AND an activity/coloring book!  Just this one DVD introduces more than 125 Spanish words and 75 phrases!

Here's how to enter:  I will use random.org to choose a random winner from the entries below.  Please leave one comment for each entry.  For example, you might leave one comment with the mandatory entry, one comment telling me you follow BocaBeth on Facebook, and one comment telling me you follow this blog.  You would have three entries and three comments.  Please note, this is only open to residents in the United States and Canada.

Mandatory entry:  Leave a comment telling me who you would like to share the DVD/activity book with and why.

Optional entries:
1.  Visit BocaBeth's website and tell me what products you would be most likely to purchase.
2.  Follow this blog.
3.  Like BocaBeth on Facebook and tell me your Facebook name in your comment.
4.  Follow BocaBeth on Twitter and tell me your Twitter name in your comment.
5.  Tweet about this giveaway and tell me your Twitter name in your comment.
6.  Post about this giveaway on Facebook and tell me your Facebook name in your comment.
7.  Talk about this giveaway on your blog and leave a link in your comment.

This giveaway will be open for one week, so I will accept entries until Monday, October 3rd at noon.  I will randomly select and contact the winner on Monday.  Good luck, friends!

Disclaimer:  BocaBeth provided a DVD and activity book for me to review.  All opinions are my own.


Note: Click here to see the winner and a coupon code good through Sunday, October 9th!

Postcard Exchange...I Need You!

Kaia has a wonderful love of new places, people, and cultures.  I'd like to put together a Postcard Exchange to guide us through some geography and culture discussions.  To do this, I'd like to find about a dozen other families who are interested in getting postcards from around the country/world.  

Here's what I picture happening:  About a dozen preschoolers/parents from around the country and world participate.  Each family sends out a postcard to every other participant.  Since we're working with young children and sending a dozen postcards the notes will be very brief...most likely a greeting and a signature.  Perhaps Mom/Dad could add a sentence describing their child's favorite food, game, or activity.  As the postcards from other participants arrive, I plan to help my kiddos find their origins on a map and globe, and then we'll spend a day or two (or more, if we all feel like it!) learning about that area.  We might include customs, landscape, history, language, or whatever else feels important.  I'd like to hang a map on the wall with the postcards around the map and little strings pinpointing their origins.  I think it will be so much fun!!  Are you in?

If you want to join us, please send me an email with your name, address, your child's name, and any other relevant information you want to include.  You can reply to this post, but I would much prefer an email so I can communicate with you directly!!  You can send emails to yes_carla at yahoo.com.  

Thanks so much!! I can't wait to hear from you!!

Fizzy, Fun Preschool Science Activity (Part 1: Fizzing Sidewalk Paint)

A fun activity with the potential for tons of science discussion that will captivate the attention of children 1-4 years old?  Oh yes, I'm sold!  I first saw this activity on an August post at Biting The Hand That Feeds You.  As I thought about it, I decided to do a mini-series about Fizzy Science for Preschoolers.  I plan on doing a Fizzy Fun Preschool Science Activity post once a week for about a month.  I'm homeschooling Kaia this year (her preschool year) and love to use science activities that the other kids can participate in.  While everyone has fun doing the activity, the younger kids tend to ignore conversation that's over their heads.  They still pick up more than you would expect them to, but they don't get stressed out about information they don't understand.  The 2-year old here, for example, told me when he wanted "the vinegar to spray and make fizz!"

On to the fun!  What exactly are we doing?  We made Fizzing Sidewalk Paint with all the kiddos, then went outside and let them paint all over the carport.  When they began to finish painting, I let them spray the vinegar on the paint and watch it fizz!  The activity picked up life again as they sprayed all their paint and then painted more just to spray. 

Fizzing Sidewalk Paint Recipe:

** Mix well:  1 1-pound (16 ounces) box of baking soda and 1/2 cup cornstarch

** Carefully add:  about 1 cup of very warm water 

** Stir in the water.  You may want a little more/less to get the best texture possible.  Cornstarch is difficult to work with, but if you give it enough water and frequently stir it, it will stay runny enough.  Detailed artwork is not the goal today.

** Divide the paint into three bowls or cups and add about 3-4 drops of food coloring to each bowl.  Carefully stir the color in well.

**  Pour vinegar into a spray bottle and go outside for the fun!  (Alternatively, you could paint on a cookie sheet on your kitchen floor, but that will get quite messy.)  I used (and would recommend) cut up sponges instead of paintbrushes. 

What topics could you discuss before, during, and after the activity?  Here's a few: measuring, mixtures, colors and mixing colors, reactions, gas/liquid/solid, and acids/bases.  Don't get carried away trying to teach everything, though.  I didn't even bring up acids or bases because I'm going to wait until she has some more background experience with reactions.  I did tell her that when you mix vinegar and baking soda they react to make bubbles.  Lots of things react, and I'm going to wait a bit before we try to classify reactants.  

This activity was a huge hit!  My younger kids enjoyed it just as much as Kaia!  Harry (15 months) loved painting with the sponges, painting with his hands, and watching/making the paint fizz! 

 

 
 




Chicken Rice Salad Recipe

Dinner in an hour with only 15 minutes of prep?  Yes, sounds good to me!  Actually, HEB (one of my favorite local grocery stores!) has this Showtime event where they regularly cook dinner and hand it out as samples.  Their "Chilled Chicken and Rice Salad" won me over in one bite...and Kaia and Harry loved it too!  I changed the recipe a bit (for reasons that follow!) and will give you both recipes:  HEB's specific instructions and my less-specific but absolutely delightful meal today!  



HEB's Chilled Chicken and Rice Salad (serves 4):

* 1 cup uncooked HEB Brown & Wild Rice Blend
* 1 5-ounce bag of fresh Baby Spinach leaves
* 1/2 cup Cookwell Honey-Lime Vinaigrette Dressing
* 1-2 cups chopped cooked Chicken
* 1 small can Mandarin Oranges, drained
* 1 cup halved seedless grapes, red or green
* 1/2 cup coarsely chopped Walnuts

1.  Cook rice according to package directions.  Chop spinach coarsely; toss with hot rice.  Set aside to cool slightly or chill until ready to serve.  Stir in dressing.
2.  Toss rice mixture with chicken, oranges, grapes, and walnuts.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

I wanted to serve a lot more than four, I couldn't find the special rice, I didn't want to buy special dressing, my kids are too young for nuts, and I didn't have time to cook chicken.

Here's What I Actually Did (serves a lot more than 4!):

* about 4 cups of cooked (white long-grained rice and quinoa)
* about 3 cups baby Spinach
* about 2/3 cup Marie's Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing
* about 2 Tablespoons Marie's Honey Dijon Dressing
* 2 12.5-ounce cans of chicken
* 1 large can of Mandarin Oranges, drained
* 2-3 cups of red grapes

1.  At snack time I started the rice and quinoa.  
2.  About 15 minutes before lunch, I mixed the rice/quinoa with the spinach and plucked the grapes.  I added the dressings to the rice and mixed it thoroughly.  Then I added everything else.  The kids helped.  
3.  We had lunch. My kids aren't picky eaters, but they absolutely loved this. I actually had a hard time getting a picture without little fingers!  Here's some eating in action!





So, are you going to try it?  I'd love to know if you like it or how it sounds!

What We Do At 5:30 in the Morning

Everyone likes to get up at 5:30 am, right?  Well, our kids sure do.  A couple months ago we realized that we could probably use our time a little better.  

Scenario 1:  I wake up to the cute toddler patting my shoulders and kissing my cheeks.  The clock says 5:30.  When I try to give him a hug and go back to sleep he climbs on top of me and starts to jump.  This inevitably wakes up Jon.  About 30 seconds later the cute preschooler shows up for some snuggles.  After lots of hugs, Kaia plays computer games while Harry plays with toys on our bedroom floor.  Harry gets bored and hungry after about 15 minutes.  At that point one or both of us drag ourselves downstairs to feed Harry and get a snack for Kaia.  We lounge on the playroom floor while Harry plays for 30-60 minutes and try to convince ourselves that we are actually getting useful rest.  Sometimes, Jon starts studying at this point.  Eventually, we have to shower and get ready for the day.

Scenario 2:  When Harry wakes us up, we give him some hugs and get ready to go running.  Again, the clock reads 5:30.  About the time we're dressed, Kaia comes in for her hugs.  We grab some snacks and sippy cups, load the stroller and take off.  When we come back we take turns showering and watching the kids.  Ideally, everyone's ready for the day at 7:00 am.  


Writing it out, it seems like a no-brainer, but it's taken us a long time to opt for Scenario 2 (read: about 15 months).  This is actually the fourth time I've started a workout program since Harry has been born, but it is the first time that it has lasted more than three weeks!  Maybe I'll do another post next week about how to stick with a program.

The kids also really love their running time.  Kaia usually runs a few blocks with us at some point and Harry will sing and "talk" the whole time.  Kaia also likes to pick out Jupiter (her favorite planet), Mars, and the moon--all easy to see this time of year! 

What do you do with your kids while you exercise? 

Photographic Evidence

This weekend was good for a lot of things. Do you like how it's Wednesday and I'm still thinking weekend?  I'll confess, I've been thinking about this post since we took the pictures! 

Anyways, we went to a park and collected some photographic evidence that my children do indeed have a mom:





And then I couldn't resist getting a few shots of Dad:




I think there's a rule somewhere that says moms with cameras are a bit trigger happy:







There must be something magical about running into a place like this:




Another park-goer saw us messing around and took some family snapshots too: