Tuesday, September 30, 2008

After Nap

My daughter is a terrible napper. She's not consistent from day to day. Sometimes there's a morning nap, sometimes not. I can lay her down and she falls asleep by herself sometimes, other times I have to rock her for 20 minutes. She could nap from a half hour to two hours. I just never know.

Most recently, I noticed that she's been waking up really cranky. My guess is that she's still tired. So instead of taking her out of her crib and out to play, I sit with her in her room on the rocking chair. She sits on my lap facing me, and we sing songs (finger plays actually). She gets really excited. It gives her a chance to have a little more down time and something to look forward to. If only she would just nap. Oh well, she sleeps pretty well at night.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Take the Cleaning Challenge

This article describes how you can clean your house in 19 minutes. Could you do it? I think you have to start with a fairly organized house to begin with. I also think that would also work if you don't have kids hanging around all day making it messy. I read recently using a timer can help you get your cleaning done faster. It's kind of like playing "beat the clock." I do this sometimes. Tell myself I have fifteen minutes to get something done and have at it. But 19 minutes to clean the house?? It takes me 20 minutes to vacuum. I do agree that having a plan makes cleaning a lot less overwhelming.

Anyone have any tricks to getting everything clean quickly?

Take a Hike

Yesterday, I woke up and thought what can we do today. We both talked about doing something, but nothing came from it. I concluded that taking a hike would be fun. We always like hiking and the fall is my favorite time to go. Leaves crunching, colors changing, cooler air.

We found a place to go about a half hour from our home. We took the stroller for our daughter (she's almost 14 months). The hike was 2.5 miles and she did good for the first quarter mile. Then I remembered that she hasn't been sitting still on our short walks at home. So my husband carried her some, she walked herself, she cried and she went in and out of the stroller a couple times. The trail was a little rougher than we expected, so she probably did like the bumpy ride. My husband got a little tougher workout pushing her when she was in the stroller. Despite the difficulty she had at times, she really did enjoy it. She would just smile when she was walking with my husband. The kind of smile she gives when she wants to hug someone. At the end, I realized I didn't even feel like I walked 2.5 miles. Made me feel good that my body is finally back on track. Even at the beginning of the summer I could barely keep up with my husband on our walk without getting winded. Baby girl felt it though, she fell asleep for the whole ride home!

To find a hiking trail near you search www.maketracks.org. Click "find a trail near you."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Grocery savings

I saved 37 percent of my bill this week. Our local grocery store had several buy one get one for 5 cents coupons. I had tons of manufacturer coupons and got lots of in store savings. Just over $45 in savings. All things we need and use. Feels good!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Coupon Giveaway

I recently joined Pssst from General Mills. They give coupons and products to try. All I have to do in return is pass the word on. This week I received a coupon for Pilsburry Pizza Thin Crust in the mail along with coupons to pass on.

I am giving away coupons via e-mail. To receive one leave a comment or better yet, give me your best pizza sauce recipe. Please be sure to leave your e-mail address or email me at reflectionsfromamotherssoul@gmail.com.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What's Cookin' -- Dairy-Free Tuna Noodle Casserole

My daughter is allergic to milk and eggs. I'm working on getting more information on her allergies, but she seems okay with pancakes and bread with milk and eggs in them. But since her reaction to milk is hives, I'm not gambling with too many recipes right now that have any dairy in them. It's been a little struggle (I do live in the dairy state) because everything I make has milk or cheese in it. And I'm trying to introduce foods that she will like that will complement our foods. I made this a couple weeks ago and she loved, loved, loved it. I think other kids would like it, too.

Dairy-Free Tuna Noodle Casserole
I found this on www.recipezaar.com, but I tweaked it a little.

6 cups cooked pasta (I used spaghetti noodles)
1 (6 oz) can tuna
1 1/2 cup frozen peas
2 Tbsp dairy free margarine (no allergies, use butter or margarine)
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups chicken bouillon (broth would work, too)
1/2 tsp pepper

1. Cook noodles in chicken bouillon. Drain and keep chicken broth set aside.
2. Melt margarine in pot over medium heat.
3. Add flour to melted margarine. Mix well.
4. Add slowly add chicken broth in flour/margarine mixture. Mix well.
5. Add tuna and peas. Bring to boil.
6. Simmer until thickens.
7. Either add noodles or pour over noodles. (I mix it all together for my daughter)

**Do you have an easy dairy-free recipe? Please share!**

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sidewalk chalk, not just for sidewalks

I did this art activity when I worked with 1-year-olds in a daycare. I give my daughter sidewalk chalk and dark colored construction paper. You can cut the paper into shapes (leaves, apples, pumpkins, ghosts, etc) or leave it as is. It's fun for little ones and they can actually make marks on the paper, which can be hard with crayons. And it's way less clean up than paint. Also, the chalk lasts a long time, and you can get it cheap at The Dollar Store. Older kids will like it too as another way to create a picture.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cleaning toys

I've just had a burst of "cleaning" energy lately. I've been just cleaning all the clutter the last week. Although I'm still not done (will there ever be an end), I decided today I would clean all the toys. I normally try to wash soft toys every now and then, and wipe down the plastic stuff when I can. I decided since my daughter had a cold recently to just do it all. I put all the plastic toys in the dishwasher. Fortunately we have a dishwasher that allows us to put plastic on the bottom rack as well as the top rack. I used a mesh bag (the kind you use in the laundry) to put those little pieces in that would surely fall into the heating mechanism. It was an easy way to get it done. It took longer but less of my time washing. We have so many toys.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Grocery Savings

A while ago I mentioned that I was going to try to budget us a little better. Well, we've had circumstances that haven't made that as practical as I would have liked.

I'm still shooting for the $50 grocery bill (I've had two trips under since I started trying really hard). But I shifted my focus a little to trying to save as much as I can with manufacturer coupons, store coupons and in-store savings. Our grocery store tallies it at the bottom of my receipt, which just gets me so anxious to see it when I'm all done shopping. Last week I saved 33% of my total. It was more than $30. I think that is a goal worth bragging a little about. So I'm still budgeting for $50, but I'm working harder at getting a large percentage off my total. I try to buy things on sale and stock up so I don't have to run out and get something last minute.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Printable Scrapbook Ideas

Again, while I was on www.familyfun.com I found this link with printable scrapbook cut-outs. I could see these used for so many different things.

Had to pass it along. Enjoy!

A Late Thirfty post

Busy day yesterday, so I couldn't get this posted. But I didn't want to neglect the topic all together.

I was searching around on www.familyfun.com and found this link with free shipping codes. If you're like me, you try to save on shipping if you can. Not sure if anyone is starting their holiday shopping, but this could help.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What's Cookin' -- Crockpot Stroganoff

I can't remember where I found this one, somewhere on the Internet. It's really good and again I use a cut up roast for my beef.

Crockpot Stroganoff
2 lb beef cut in 1 inch pieces
1 small jar of mushrooms
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 can cream of mushroom
1/2 cup milk
1/2 packet Lipton Onion Soup (you can use a whole one, but it gets pretty salty)
1/2 cup sour cream

1. Combine all ingredients except sour cream in crockpot.
2. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours.
3. Add sour cream right before serving.
4. Serve over buttered noodles or rice

Monday, September 15, 2008

Craft/Sensory Project

I did this with my 13-month old and she really enjoyed it. Most of our projects don't take a long time, so I try to make them mean something by placing them somewhere she can enjoy them.
1. Peel backs of several stickers and have them ready.
2. Laminate (use contact paper) a blue piece of paper
3. Take foam stickers and help your child stick them to a piece of paper.
4. I used packaging tape and stuck the creation to the wall in my daughter's playroom at her level so she can pick at the fish and touch them.
Variations: You can create any scene with any variety of foam stickers. I just picked up some Halloween stickers for $5 at Wal-Mart and they will last for a few years. Older children will like to peel the backs off themselves. You can find numbers and letters foam stickers that can help with recognition.

In the Kitchen

I have many duplicate cooking utensils and baking items for when cooking in the kitchen. I often found myself washing one and wishing I had another utensil. It seems that either I don't use them for days or need two or more in one day. Saves time and makes life a little easier.

Here's a list of some items I have more than one of in my kitchen.

Potato Peelers
Pizza Cutters
Dry measuring cups
Wet measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Wooden spoons
Rubber spatulas
Quik knife (pampered chef)
Cookie scoops

I luckly gained most of my duplicate items when I married my husband because he was pretty well stocked, too. And then for my bridal shower I registered with Pampered Chef.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

25 Activities with an Old Phonebook

I have used old telephone books for many things. Today I let my 1-year-old play with a couple of old ones. Ours aren't too thick so she didn't care about stepping on them as I had hoped. She was more interested in carrying them around the room. And then tearing the pages (and then trying to eat the pages). It got me thinking about other activities to do with a phonebook. You can incorporate every subject with a phonebook -- language arts, science, social studies, math, art, gym, etc.

I have used them as a learning center in a kindergarten. The kids highlighted the letters in the phone book and then wrote or circled the letter on a separate piece of paper. I also gave them a magnify glass to help them search -- they really like that.

The ideas are really endless, this list is just to get you thinking. Oh, and remember phone books don't cost any extra and you can always check schools or large business for their old phone books if you need more for a classroom.

Tear pages
Look for letters
Look for numbers
Look for own phone number
Look up family and friend’s phone number
Look up business phone number
Use phone books as steps for aerobics
Look up emergency numbers
Look at pictures
Carry phone books around (build muscles)
Discuss zip codes
Find time zones
Search for words
Find you first name
Find certain names (mom’s, dad’s, sister’s, etc)
Use for wrapping paper
Don’t forget to use the coupons
Search for attractions
Find seating chart, pick a good spot to sit
Maps – find where you live
Maps – locate family, business, favorite restaurant, school, park, etc.
Maps – discuss directions
Maps – make routes from A to B
Maps – use index to find streets, practice using a key
Discuss bus routes – find a way to get around town

Use it and enjoy it

That's the local library I'm talking about.

There a many free programs at our library for kids of all ages. I just signed my daughter up for storytime and we plan to go to playgroup there this fall, too. All free of charge.

I also have been looking for more information on a milk-free diet for my daughter due to a milk allergy. The Internet has almost too much information and it's hard to sort through it (and feel that I'm getting accurate information). I recently checked out many books -- mostly cookbooks. Again free information.

Because most libraries are now connected with several in an area, the selection of materials has grown immensely. I have found that I can request a book now at home and pick it up at my convenience when it is available. How simple is that? Placing holds has never been so easy. I don't need to wait for it to come back and hope I can get it or run to the library to put a hold on a book. Another great free service.

Our library also has many programs for adults, such as book clubs. If you need a little time away, that's always another option.

And of course, we borrow tons of DVDs at the library. Why pay for something if you don't have to?

Use your library and enjoy it often!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What's cookin' -- Drop Biscuits

I found this recipe on www.cooksillustrated.com. They are really easy to make and taste really good. I made them last year for Thanksgiving. I like that you don' t need to roll out the dough and use a cookie cutter to make them. Just drop them on a cookie sheet.

Drop Biscuits
(Makes 12 biscuits)

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus 2 Tbsp melted butter for brushing biscuits

1. Preheat oven 475 degrees. Adjust rack to middle of oven.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt in large bowl.
3. Combine buttermilk and 8 Tbsp of butter in medium bowl stirring until butter forms small clumps.
4. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of bowl. It will still be clumpy and that's good.
5. Use a greased 1/4 measuring cup and scoop level amount of batter and drop onto parchment lined baking sheet. Space biscuits about 1 1/2 inches apart.
6. Bake until tops are golden and crisp. 12 to 14 minutes.
7. After taking them out of the oven, brush tops with 2 Tbsp of melted butter. Cool for 5 minutes.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Field trip to the apple orchard

There is an apple orchard about 5 minutes from our home. We went today for the first time. It's expanded since I was there last with a large play area with Tee-Pees made of corn husks, tunnels, hay mazes, tricycles, and swings, which is great for kids to have a place to run and play. There are apple trees everywhere, a pumpkin patch, corn maze and hay rides. They also sell apples and everything apple along with seasonal crafts.

A few weeks ago I was singing "Old MacDonald" to my little one and he had a turkey on his farm, (first time I mentioned a turkey). I gobbled and my daughter, who was getting ready for sleep, took out her pacifier and gobbled back at me. It was as though she had been waiting for the turkey to come out. Today we walked up to the animals at the orchard and she started gobbling. Sure enough there were turkeys. I can't think of ever showing her a turkey in a book or on a video. Where did she pick that up? Somewhere when I wasn't looking.

Be sure to expose your kids, no matter what age, to as much as you can. Our trip to the apple orchard was cheap -- 50 cents to play in the play area and $10 for apples and apple pie. Find one near you if you get the chance. You might have a "gobble" moment of your own!


I attended to a 4-year university to obtain my degree in Early Childhood Education from 2004-07. I had received a bachelors in print journalism in 1999. There was a lot of great information given to me, and I respected all of my professors (even the wacky ones). My goal in anything I do is to walk away with something and put it to practice. I had this one professor who was tough, expected a lot, didn't teach to a test, and gave extremely lengthy assignments. I loved her. I participated in her classes and she even made sure I wrapped up a conversation when she was being observed. She was one of the best. Most students despised her -hated how she expected so much and how she didn't spoon feed us the answers that would be on the test. They thought how dare she ask us to do so much. I tried explaining when I got my first degree all classes were like hers and I usually one got graded on 3 tests and a paper. But they didn't care.

One of her assignments was to create teacher-made products. I had her for two classes -- Social Studies curriculum and Language Arts curriculum during the same semester. She required five teacher made projects for each class. Okay, that doesn't sound so bad. Her requirement was that each project had to take four hours to make. And she said she could tell if it didn't. They needed to be laminated (if they could be laminated) and have a container. This was also the semester we got engaged and decided to plan a wedding, not to mention all the work in her class and my other classes. It was a good thing my future husband lived an hour away or I would never have gotten the As in both her classes.

What I learned for this is how to make quality projects, how long they take to make and the benefits children gain from using them. You can't always find what you need in a teacher store. You just have to make it sometimes.

With all that said, I wanted to share a parent-made project I did for my little 13-month old.

I found die-cuts at a teacher store with bears in canoes. I also had blue star die cuts already. This is a simple matching game.


1. Tape (I use double sized tape) or glue die-cuts to poster board.
2. Laminate or use contact paper to protect the poster.
3. Laminate individual die-cut pieces.
4. Place velcro on the poster board on the shapes and also on individual pieces.
5. I used packaging tape to tape it to the wall.

**Be warned if you do this with 1-year-olds they will bend the shapes no matter how well they are laminated. It's good to have extras ready to replace.**

Variations: You can cut out your own shapes on colored paper. For older kids you can match letters, numbers, number problems, or word families on the shapes just to name a few. So many ideas out there.

Teacher tip: You can use permanent marker on lamination, which I recommend if you are using it more than once or with several kids. To remove permanent maker for lamination use hairspray or rubbing alcohol and wipe off.

Monday, September 8, 2008

On my daughter's iPod

Okay, so she's only 13 months and doesn't have an iPod, but we import songs onto I-Tunes.  The computer is in the kitchen so we play music during meals and snacks.  We are trying to expose a variety of music.  I thought it would be fun to list a sampling of some of the variety.  (Note Daddy adds as many as I do).  There are 63 songs and the list keeps growing.

Disco Duck, Rick Dees
Hakuna Matata, Disney Music
I've Been Working on the Railroad, Children's Favorites, Vol. 1 [Disney]
Monkeys and the Alligator, Dr. Jean & Friends 
Sweet Caroline, Neil Diamond
Paw Paw Patch, Toddlers Sing Playtime
Six Little Ducks, 102 Children's Songs Vol.1
The Underdog, Spoon
Yummy Yummy Yummy, The Archies
BINGO, Toddlers Sing Playtime
Bottle Caps, Laurie Berkner
I Hope You Dance, Lee Ann Womack
Down By The Bay, Various Artists 102 Children's Songs Vol. 2 
But I Like You, Bert & Ernie
RhiannonFleetwood Mac
Oh, Susanna!, Children's Favorites, Vol. 1 [Disney]
Frazzle, Frazzle And The Frazzletones [Sesame Street]

Sometimes I just let new (new to my daughter) music play and see what she enjoys.  I can tell because she listens closely and starts bopping her head.  Then I add it to her playlist.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


I read so many recipes that I want to try. I had been putting all recipes (ones I've tried and ones I want to try) in one binder. The binder was thick, disorganized and I dreaded opening it. It had too much chaos.

About a month or so ago, I put two binders together. One has recipes that I use and have tried, and the other has recipes that I either find on the Internet or in magazines. It has worked out really well. Once I try a new a new recipe I then add it to the binder with recipes I've tried (of course that's only if we like it). It helps with menu planning, too.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Survey Police

I am a member of a couple survey panels. I find that most don't pan out or are total scams. I found this website today: Survey Police. They have people rate the many, many survey sites out there. I looked at the two I use. The one I like the best got 40% overall rating (not so good). And the other one I use got over 80%, which has yet to pay anything (but I like the surveys they send so I still do them).

I think the survey companies may have people write that they are good even if they aren't. I saw one post say that the company asked them to make a post on this survey police site. So, it's up to you to decide. I didn't find anything useful, but I might browse again ever now and then. I don't think I would use it to try a new survey site, based on the ratings my websites got, but I think it would be a good place to see if a survey website is a complete scam.

Do you do surveys online and do they payout?

Credit Card Rewards

The money that we get back on our credit card (5% gas, 2% dining and entertainment and 1% on everything else) we put into our daughter's savings. It's money we don't see and it gives it a purpose.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What's cookin' -- Kraut and Kelbasa

This is a stand-by and can't really be any simpler.

Kraut and Kelbasa
1 large can or jar saurkraut
1 link Kelbasa (I get pork)

1. Put everything in crockpot. Let cook for 4 hours on low.

**Sometimes I brown the kelbasa for five minutes before putting it in the crockpot, but it's not neccesary. You can substitute the meat with pork chop, hog hock, hot dogs, etc. )

Why walking is so good for you (and kids)

Since I just realized that it is Wednesday and I posted organization yesterday, here's my Tuesday All about the Kids post.

I take my 1-year-old for a stroller ride every day I can, weather is usually the only reason we don't go. We got the same route and take about a 30 minute walk. The time we walk varies on my daughter's schedule for the day, which seems to be ever changing. It creates a nice distraction for the day, I get some exercise, and she gets to search for birds, squirrels, dogs and butterflies (and sometimes the garbage truck). The fresh air is good after being in the house all day long. When she gets older we will transition our stroller ride to a wagon ride and then to a bike ride. It's very important that children see you out and about with them. Moving around and exercising creates a lasting impression and gives them more benefit than you realize. Sometimes it's hard for me to stop and go take a walk, but I know my daughter needs it. I am committed to creating as healthy lifestyle for my daughter as we can.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Random organizing

I don't seem to have any tips today, so I thought I would map out my organizing day.

1. My daughter is finally completely off the bottle, which means I need to sterilize and put away bottles. Today is the day for that. Our counter will finally be cleared up as we have bottle container and drying rack taking up lots of space near the sink.
2. Summer is just about past in these parts. I plan to go through my daughter's clothes (again, seems I do this every two weeks) and put away too small clothes and summer clothes. I have lots of pants for her, but they all seem too big. We might have to try some on so I know which ones I can rotate in.
3. Picking up around the house is always on the schedule. I have several things that need to be put away. Some toys for Christmas, bedding from when my in-laws were here, misc craft items, a few items I'm keeping from our rummage sale.
4. I finally am caught up on photos, but I still need to find a place to put all the albums. I'm going to try and conquer that today, too.

In short, my goal today is to get to all those things I never get too. Well, probably not all, but some.


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