Posts Tagged ‘Parenting’

Halloween Fun

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008





This was a fun year for us as parents because both of our kids finally “got” all the trick-or-treating fun. We kept our costumes fun & frugal this year. Emily was a bumblebee, which was a costume hand-me-down from her big brother. Ethan also kept changing his mind until the very last minute so I waited until Target marked the Halloween costumes down to 30% off and got his super cool ninja costume at a little lower price than I would have gotten it normally.

We tried to keep Emily out of the candy, but she managed to get into and suck on a purple sucker while we went door to door. The evening ended with a sucker stuck to her hair & bumblebee costume so that will require a good washing this week.

We loved going around and seeing all of our great neighbors and showing off how big our children were. We have plans to put the costumes on again this week to go see all of the grandparents since we weren’t able to squeeze that in with me heading out of town in the morning. Any excuse to wear the costume again and get more of our money’s worth out of it seems like a smart plan to me!

I hope you enjoyed the festivities, whatever they may have been, with your families!

Our Autumn Book Basket

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

I hit the library this past week and picked up some books for the kids with some really great autumn themes in them. Our library conveniently pulls all of the holiday books for us when the holidays come around so it makes it easy to put a seasonal basket together.

Ethan made a sign for our basket that said, “Happy Fall.” I wrote this out on a piece of paper for him and he practiced writing it for the basket. He drew a cute little jack-o-lantern on it because it was something that represented fall to him.

In our fall basket you will find the following books for the season:

Happy Haunting, Amelia Bedelia

Luther’s Halloween

Beauty & the Beaks

Minnie and Moo & the Thanksgiving Tree

Richard Scarry’s The First Thanksgiving of Low Leaf Worm

The Thanksgiving Door

Thanksgiving is Here

I look forward to switching out the books with the holiday season and getting a chance to read all of these great stories with the kids. I picked some beginning readers so we can work on Ethan’s reading skills, but I also picked books that I could read to them. Our favorite so far has definitely been, “Thanksgiving is Here” because it reminds us so much of our own crazy Thanksgiving dinners with family!

What are some of your favorite autumn reads? Do you have any books to recommend for our seasonal basket?

Piggy Pancakes

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

I made piggy pancakes for the kids and they were a huge hit! I wasn’t sure if they would be able to figure out what they were so I let them guess. They decided these were cow pancakes instead so who knows what animal your own kids might pick?

I made a batch of this pancake batter. It is my absolute favorite because it doesn’t require any fancy ingredients and can be made out of everything in your pantry. The pancakes remind me of the McDonald’s pancakes and I absolutely could devour a few stacks of those in one sitting.

To save a little bit more money, I make a batch of powdered milk to mix into the pancakes. It isn’t a huge savings, but it saves me from making multiple trips for milk throughout the week.

You will want to make one large pancake and two silver dollar sized pancakes. When you see the bubbles bubbling up on top, give them a flip and cook until they are cooked through.

I used kitchen scissors and cut one of the small pancakes in half and slipped it under the large pancake, to make the ears. Plop a small pancake on top for the snout and use blueberries or chocolate chips for the eyes.

For preschoolers, you could tie in any good barnyard book or my personal favorite…”If You Give a Pig a Pancake.”

And My Heart Breaks…

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008



I woke up this morning to red eyes and a tear-stained pillow because I had been anticipating the big event in our house. I still can hardly believe that he went to school today.

Last night we went to his back-to-school night and met his teacher. Ethan spent the evening working on a card to bring her and we got apples at the supermarket so he could give her one. When he walked in with his apple and card, he was so excited to hand it to her. “Will she put it on the corner of her desk, mommy?” I think he saw this on a show or in a book somewhere because the apple placement was almost more important than the apple itself. When she thanked him for the apple and centered it on her desk, he pointed to the corner of her desk. “Could you put the apple here instead?” She grinned, but obliged. I tried to make quiet small talk with the teacher and signed my name on the volunteer sheet. It took everything in me to not say things like, “My son is so amazing- you have no idea how amazing he is! He is so incredibly gifted and smart! Will you love having him around as much as I have?” I didn’t want to be that mom though so we said our goodbyes and held hands as we walked out the door.

It’s funny, when my daughter looks at a picture of our family she points at each person and says their name. “That’s my mommy. That’s my daddy. That’s my Ethan.” The inflection and the possessiveness of that phrase let’s you know just how special he is. He is hers and only hers. He is her big brother, her hero, and her best friend.

As I watch him climb the bus, that possessiveness rings in my heart. That’s my boy. That’s my colicky baby. That’s my stoic toddler. That’s my bubbly preschooler. That’s my gentle & kind son. That’s my Ethan. My. My. My.

Bittersweet.

At the Car Wash: Part II

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

This summer, the kids really loved getting to wash their own cars, but my neglected car was in need of a car wash too. Isn’t that why we have kids though? Might as well put these able-bodied children to work, that’s what I say!

Emily worked on the car with an old baby washcloth and Ethan used daddy’s official car scrubber.

I loved their looks of total concentration. They took their task very seriously and Emily kept wanting to show us how yucky the water was. I am the same way though when I scrub our floors. I just have to have other people witness the gross factor- you just can’t experience that alone.

I don’t know if I should mention this every single time, but I do feed this kid. These shorts are 3T and falling off of him still. I see pictures like these and feel like I should make a disclaimer- this kid eats me under the table. Oh, to have that metabolism!

Where in the world is their supervisor though? Oh, I think I found him sitting on the step watching the kids work. I don’t think we should ever claim to be parenting experts!

He had to break out the big guns though and show the kids how to clean the roof of the car. They thought this part was hilarious.

What’s a car wash though without a little water play afterwards? Ethan thought this part was definitely the best. Best of all, I have a clean car AND two exhausted workers to prove that this was a family event worth repeating!

Mom’s Date Night: Back To School Shopping

Monday, July 28th, 2008

My little supermodel wanted to show off his cool new t-shirt. We wore this out last week to go pick up Ethan’s school supplies and got stopped by tons of people in the store who wanted to pump Ethan up about how great kindergarten was going to be.

I took him for a special date night and we went to go get everything from his list of school supplies, a new backpack, and picked up some of his uniforms. I wish we could have taken advantage of end-of-year clearance on the uniforms, but we weren’t sure if he was going to get in this school or not. The real dilemma was finding enough clothes in his size and that would fit his narrow frame. We had virtually no luck at Wal-Mart and very little luck at Target. It is difficult to find a boy’s size 4 in the appropriate color scheme so I will have to do some additional hunting online for his fall/winter clothes.

$150 in supplies later and we headed over to Wendy’s for a special dinner complete with a Vanilla Frosty.

We couldn’t end our date there though because we had to head to a very special place to get something very special. Yes, Ethan is now a card-carrying adult because he got his very own library card. It was quite exciting to sign his own name, in his very careful script, and then pick out books and check them out in self-check ALL BY HIMSELF! He kept telling the librarian, “Excuse me, ma’am. Excuse me. I am down here.” The librarian laughed and told him that she could see him perfectly, but he kept saying, “Um, ma’am. I’m down here! I need a library card”

The joy in his eyes as we headed out with that little piece of plastic… May that feeling of joy only be replicated with free cards and not a credit card! Isn’t that every parent’s prayer?


What are you doing to get ready for school and when do your kids start? Where have you found the best deals on school supplies?

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New Entries For Reading & Watching:

Fruit Roll-Ups Giveaway Results
Playskool Products
Crayola Doodlebags
Veri Meri T-Shirts
WSBT: Getting Kids to Do Chores
Frugal Hacks: Another Summer Gone By

Dad’s Day Out & Mom’s Day In

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008



We have been trying to accomplish all of the great things off of our summertime list this summer and we had a major event to accomplish… a trip to Chicago’s Field Museum. Last week, they offered a free admission day so we made plans to make our trip that day.

When I say we though, I mean my husband & Ethan. The guys wanted to do this trip alone without any girls ruining all their fun so they headed their together for a full day of fun in the prehistoric world. They took the South Shore train to their destination and enjoyed a guy’s day together.

When Ethan walked in and saw Sue the amazing T-Rex he said, “I have been waiting my whole life for this moment.” Ryan sent me updates via text message about all the fun they were having and he took tons of pictures of all of Ethan’s favorite moments from the museum.

Meanwhile, Emily & I had a wonderful girl’s day. We played outside, I sat at her mini-picnic bench and shared a peanut butter & jelly sandwich with her, we snuggled, we laughed, and we went to my mom’s birthday dinner celebration. We sent dad messages about what we were up to and…well, we couldn’t stop smiling. Every once in awhile, Emily would look at me and say, “Where did Ethan go?” and I would remind her that he & daddy had a special day together.

When my husband got home we both remarked that we need to do that more often. We both felt a bond with each child deepen during that day and it was great to be able to devote our undivided attention to each of them.

Do you do dates with your children? How do you manage to make quality time for each child individually? I would love to get some ideas for things we could do with the kids in the future!

The Summertime List & Summertime Games

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

We are enjoying a summer full of fun activities, thanks to our summertime list!

Here is what we have accomplished so far:

Made homemade slushies
Ran through the sprinklers
Went to the zoo (Ft Wayne and/or Potowatomi Zoo)
Went to playgroup(s)
Went to VBS
Made homemade play dough
Made Magic Milkshakes
Went to Grandma’s house to play
Watched the Car’s movie and ate Jimmy John’s
Went to Krispy Kreme and watched them make donuts
Had a picnic in the backyard

We still have some more things to do, but we have really been enjoying checking things off of our list. It has been a real family event with everyone pitching in to make sure that we do all of these special things.

With the completion of our patio, we have been enjoying lots of time in our own backyard. I did make a little investment in some family games for us to play outside.

We bought this Franklin 5 Game Set at Target for $14.99, which was about the price you would pay for a nice new board game. This set came in a carrying case and it has a net that you can put up and play games like badminton (our favorite), volleyball, frisbee, horseshoes, and lawn tennis (plastic rackets with a foamy ball to bounce over the net).

This has been such a fun investment because my husband and I can play this on our own or we can toss the Frisbee with the kids. The net is height adjustable and so you can lower it for the wee people in the family. We have also included the kids in the games by parking little lawn chairs for them and making them the judges (which they LOVE).

It isn’t the best quality set I have owned, but I am sure we can get $14.99 of games out of it. It has been a great way to spend our evenings and it keeps us active this summer.

The other game we bought was the Eddie Bauer Bean Bag Toss set, available at Target for $49.99 (it is on sale this week, but not available on their website). Yes, this was A LOT to pay for a game, but it is just beautiful and we plan to use it for many years. We both couldn’t believe how well it was made and it comes with a case so you can take it with you places. We plan to take this to the grandparent’s houses (that don’t have a lot of kid toys) or for get togethers with friends who don’t have children yet. The kids love playing with it and dropping the bean bags into the nets. We can get pretty competitive with it, but it is a complete blast and will be fun to get out when we are entertaining in the summer.

If you wanted to be more thrifty with a bean bag toss, you could make your own too. Polliwog’s Cakewalk has a wonderful tutorial for making some monster bean bags that you could craft up with the kids. I think these would be fun to do with the pails in a row (a la Bozo the Clown Show for my friends who grew up on that kind of entertainment) and do a bean bag toss with them like that too!

Do you have any games that you play with your family in the warmer weather? How do you keep the kids entertained?

A Struggle to Be Faithful

Monday, June 30th, 2008

I adore my Emily. She is her very own little person with her own sweet little personality. I prayed very hard that we would someday have a little girl of our very own and here she is in all of her glory. She is the sweetest little girl with the best personality and she makes me laugh with her sweet quirkiness.

Emily has also challenged me in ways that I never dreamed as a parent. While Ethan slept through the night at three months, my Emily still cries for me at night (she is two and a half). Since she has been born, I have had rarely a full night of sleep. I can’t figure out why this is because we have done everything for her exactly the same as Ethan, but Emily doesn’t seem to really need sleep.

Ethan was (and still is) an extremely outgoing child. I could leave him anywhere and he would have a zillion best friends by the time I got back. I remember that my feelings were a little hurt the first day I dropped him off for school and he barely acknowledged my departure. He was just that kind of kid.

Emily is not that kind of kid. She is very shy and takes time to warm up to anyone. She really hates to be left anywhere and clings to my leg if she thinks I will leave her. She wails uncontrollably if she thinks we will leave her. It has been extremely hard.

Working out is difficult because I can hear her crying when I leave her in the babysitting area for my workout. I am constantly listening and my stomach feels like a little tight ball because I am on edge if she is making it difficult for the babysitter in charge. I feel selfish when I leave her there. Working out is optional and I feel like I am inflicting trauma on my child for no reason.

Worshiping is difficult because the children go to Sunday school while we attend the service and she really hates going. When we walk into church, she starts crying and when we leave her she is uncontrollable and inconsolable. This Sunday she screamed the entire time we were in service, and her screaming was worse if anyone looked or talked to her. When we got done with worship and the tears were rolling down her face, I felt like the worst parent in the world.

I honestly don’t know what to do. She doesn’t like to be alone at night, she wants me to be by her side all day, and I feel very badly for the people who are caring for her in my absence. At the same time, I know that there are times where we need that separation so that I can be a better mom to her. Things like working out and going to worship are important to me, but I feel very badly doing these things when I know how hard it is for the people who care for her.

It is bad enough that I don’t know if my husband and I should go to worship together. Maybe we should alternate services so Emily doesn’t have to go to Sunday School? Maybe I should quit the gym in favor of working out at home? I really am struggling with what is the best way to handle this. Do I keep doing this in hopes that she will figure out that we will always come back to her or do I wait until she outgrows it on her own?

I would love to hear from parents who are dealing with this or have watched their children outgrow it! Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Summertime Planning

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

I was really inspired by Whatever’s summer list and vowed that we were going to do that this summer for our family. We headed over to the Dollar Tree and picked up a piece of poster board for $.50 and a fresh new Sharpie marker for $1. On the way home, we talked about all of the things that we wanted to do this summer and we both got really excited about all of our fun plans.

Ethan made the list with us and this is what we came up with:

Go to the beach (St Joe and/or New Buffalo)
Go to the dinosaur museum (the Field Museum)
Play Mario Kart with mommy
Make homemade slushies
Run through the sprinklers
Go to the zoo (Ft Wayne and/or Potowatomi Zoo)
Go to playgroup(s)
Go to VBS
Go to the dollar movie
Sleepover with our cousin
Have an Earth Hour family night
Make homemade pizza
Eat at the food court at the mall
Make homemade play dough
Go to St Louis
Go to Granny’s house to play
Make Magic Milkshakes
Go to Grandma’s house to play
Go to the park
Get our first library card
Go to the water park
Make banana pops
Wash the cars with daddy
Get out the rainy day suitcase
Watch the Car’s movie and eat Jimmy John’s
Have an ice cream sundae night
Buy presents for the homeless shelter and deliver them
Go to Krispy Kreme and watch them make donuts
Have a picnic in the backyard
Go to the AirZoo Museum

Ethan drew a picture of his family in the summertime to go along with our list and we hung it in our kitchen for the summer.

I love that the majority of the activities he picked didn’t cost money and that the ones that he did pick that cost something could be special things that we could look forward to together. Since we have no big vacation plans, this looks like a really great round-up of activities to keep us busy this summer.

It is kind of funny though… I think my husband & I are just as excited as he is!