Thursday, July 30, 2009

Picnic Table Talk-Physical Activity

This weeks topic at ABC and 123 is about physical activity. M&M has so much pent up energy that she has to do something physical everyday or else she will scream and cry to get out the energy that she needs to at the end of the day. During the spring we went outside to our backyard a lot, but now that it's soooo hot and muggy I just can't stand to be outside for very long before I'm drenched in sweat. M&M doesn't like to be out there for very long either. It really just drains you.

I think the most important part of getting children to do physical activity is doing it yourself to set an example. Now, as I say this I have to admit that I have not been very good at it. Being in some sort of pain whether it be related to pregnancy, knees or backs, I have not been able to exercise like I want to. I hurt my back on Friday and it's been hurting since then. Just today I've been in so much pain that I had to ask my mother-in-law to help take care of my kids. This is a very hard thing for me to do since I hate imposing on people.

But anyway, enough about me. I'd have to say that M&M's favorite physical activity is swimming. She thinks she is just having fun, but really she is constantly moving her body and exercising whilst she jumps in or tries to get from one side of the pool to the other. We have a trampoline with a safety net and M&M loves to jump on it. Although she hasn't recently because of the heat. I'm hoping once it cools down a bit this activity will pick up a little bit more. I remember growing up and jumping on the tramp was the way I got exercise, trying to do flips and such.

During the spring when the weather was nice M&M and I would play in our backyard. One of her favorite things to do is blow bubbles. Even though this is not a physical activity in and of itself, it can be for the one trying to pop the bubbles, especially if there is a slight breeze and one has to run all over the yard to catch them. M&M also loves to play soccer with her daddy, kicking a ball around and running after it.

Inside, one of M&M's favorite activities is dancing. Even if she's watching a show on T.V. or a movie she will dance to the songs. Her favorite movie right now is Mary Poppins and she watches this everyday, (shhh...don't tell). Everyday she will come and show me a new dance move she has learned. She's gotten to the point where she just wants me to fast forward to the parts where someone is singing and dancing. I will also turn on some music and we will just dance together whether it be slower music or fast. M&M loves to do somersaults as well and she's really good at them! I think next year I am going to put her into a dance class or gymnastics for her to be able to develop these talents that she is exibiting.

Other than that we take walks, go to the park and play on the playground, etc. Maybe when M&M is older we will set more time aside for structured active play, but for now she is constantly moving anyway so it works out!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My First.....and second award.

Mouse Learns, Mouse Grows has given me my first and second awards. The first one is the Lovely Blog Award where I have to pass it on to 15 newly discovered blogs that I enjoy reading.

The second award comes from Mouse Learns, Mouse Grows as well. This blog requires me to tell ten things about me that readers might not know. Since I don't divulge much information about myself on here this should be pretty easy. Then I have to send it on to 10 other blogs. I am going to simplify matters like the blog I got this from and send it on to the same blogs.

So here's ten things about me:

1. My name is Sheena. My mom got the name from the singer, Sheena Easton.

2. I do not like hot humid weather, but that is what I am stuck in right now!

3. I am 25 years old.

4. I LOVE to travel.

5. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, i.e. a Mormon.

6. I was born and raised in Utah, but my husband brought me back to his home state because of a great job opportunity. (I miss my family, sniff sniff.) But I love it here as well.

7. I got my associates degree, started on my bachelor's at a different school and then met my husband. Got married, got pregnant, dropped out of school because of sickness and I only have 9 more classes to take to graduate. I wish I could have finished, but I might still do it.

8. I feel like I am a creative/crafty person, but just lack the time and energy to sew, paint, or make anything. I hope to soon change that because I have found it is a great outlet for me and I love all of the fun things I am finding on blogs to make.

9. I played the piano when I was a kid, stopped playing it as a teenager and now I wish we had a piano so I could play again. I'm hoping we will get one here pretty soon so that I can bring more music into our home.

10. My newfound favorite color is red.

There ya go. Now you know a little bit more about me than you did before if you even bothered to read this far down. :)

I am passing these awards along to:

Izzie, Mac, and Me

My Two Happy Homeschoolers

Taking Off My Shoes

Spinners End Nursery School

Tot School

Teach Mama

The Work of Childhood

Teaching Heart Mom

Live Learn Love

Frugal Family Fun Blog

Funny Days with Mommy and Maddie

Life of a Dairy Queen

Chocolate on my Cranium

One Crafty Mumma

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tot School July 20-24

Yet another week without any plans. But I have a good excuse. I am focusing more of my attention on planning and organizing a lot of things in my life. I have all of these great ideas saved up on Evernote, but I have a hard time getting them off of the computer and into real life. I have found a way that works for me and hopefully I will be putting the system into work later on this week. I am also totally reorganizing my playroom because there is entirely too much stuff in there right now. See this post to see what it looks like now. I want to make more of a creative space for M&M to play on her own because that is something she really needs to work on and I really need her to work on that as well. She is getting really clingy right now and I need a little space. But just a little. ;)

On to Tot School. As M&M brought her baby doll's highchair into the kitchen this week one of the legs fell off. So being the clever little girl she is she went back to her playroom and got her toolbox to fix it. She spent a fair amount of time using all of her tools to pound and screw the leg back on. We then proceeded to fix her tricycle. I was the mechanic for this one and she kept saying, "Sir" will you please do this or that to the bike.

I saw this idea for English muffin pizzas on this blog. We made them for lunch one day.

Then we made a homemade ring toss game. I got the idea for this here. We poured dry rice into an empty water bottle and then used pipe cleaners to make circles and throw them over the top of the bottle.

M&M had a hard time with the smaller circles so she suggested making them bigger. I just twisted two of them together to make them bigger. This made it a lot easier for her.

Then M&M asked what else we could do with these so I got different size balls and I held one of the circles while she tried to throw the ball into it. She said, "We're playing basketball!" I was impressed because I didn't think she really knew what basketball was.
I'm really getting into these homemade games and activities. They seem to spark a lot more imagination than store bought toys and they're cheap!

That's it for this week, but I have big plans for the coming weeks. More letter of the week activities.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Family Traditions and a recipe

Growing up my family had many traditions for holidays, etc. We also had things that we didn't do at a certain date and time, but we just did whenever we felt like it. One of these things was watching "Sound of Music" while eating Abelskievers. I loved doing this and couldn't wait to do it with my own family. At three years old, M&M loves loves loves Mary Poppins. She'd watch it everyday if I would let her. She loves the singing and dancing in it and so I thought maybe she'd like the Sound of Music as well. On Monday night, our family night, I broke out the Abelskiever pan (AKA Pancake Puff pan) and the Sound of Music DVD. M&M really liked the song parts of course, but wanted us to "pause to the next song" as she put it. It was really fun implementing a tradition I used to do as a kid into my own family now.

Warning: This recipe is not healthy in any way, shape, or form.


Separate egg whites of 3 eggs, beat to high peaks. Set aside. Beat 3 egg yolks.
Add 2 c. buttermilk.
To buttermilk mixture add: (then beat well)
2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. nutmeg

Fold in egg whites and then add 2 Tbsp. melted butter. Drop mixture into Abelskiever pan in which hot shortening has melted. (Put in more shortening each time you add new batter) Cook, then roll in powdered sugar. Eat them while their hot!

F.Y.I. The Sound of Music is based in Austria. Abelskievers are Scandinavian. These do not correlate in any way. It's just something we did as a family and I wanted to continue it.

Side note: As I was looking on the internet about the Sound of Music I saw that they are going to do a remake of it. I don't know how I feel about that.....Mmmmm. If you're a Sound of Music fan, what do you think?

Ultimate Chicken Fingers

In my quest to ensure that my family has dinner on the table every night I have been in the search for more recipes as I am only in possession of a handful. I found this recipe on the box of Bisquick.
My daughter doesn't really like chicken except chicken nuggets, but anytime I make these she gobbles them down. It's definitely a keeper.

Ultimate Chicken Fingers

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
2/3 c. Original Bisquick mix
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt or garlic salt (I use garlic powder)
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line cookie sheet with foil; spray with cooking spray. In 1-gallon resealable plastic bag, mix Bisquick, cheese, salt and paprika. Dip half of chicken strips into egg; place in bag. Seal bag; shake to coat. Place chicken on cookie sheet. Repeat with rest of chicken. Drizzle butter over chicken. Bake 12-14 min., turning halfway through bake time with pancake turner, until no longer pink in center. (I don't turn mine over and it works just fine.)

I love how it's shaken in a bag because my daughter loves to help me make dinner and this is something that is fun for her to do.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Picnic Table Talk-Organization

I'm so happy about the topic this week at ABC & 123. It's organization! I've come to find out over the past year of being in our own house that I am an organizational freak. At least I aspire to be one. If you came to my house you probably wouldn't be able to tell. I am on a journey to organization as well as everything else in my life. I could spend entirely too much money at IKEA and The Container Store if my husband would let me. He's been really good though about letting me get my supplies for Tot School and stuff to organize them in.

I've been meaning to do a post about organization for some time now, but I was waiting to be all the way organized so I could post about everything. Then this topic came up and I realized that it will be a long time until I am all the way organized so I might as well post what I have done.

Organizing Stuff:
To start off I have organized all of my Tot school supplies which extends from paints to workbooks to puzzles and beads, etc. We are fortunate to have an extra bedroom in our home that we have turned into a playroom. We could have made it an office/craft room for me, but we decided that will come at a later time and a place to store toys would be more beneficial. I am in the process of reorganizing this room with more storage options and getting more stuff off of the floor.

Any ideas??

To start this organization my hubby put up this shelf for me which I have stored puzzles and games on.
I use the closet in this room to store all of the Tot school stuff.
The other side of the closet has an old bedside table that I store craft supplies in.

Organizing Schedules:
When I think of organizing I think of how I organize ideas as well. I made a schedule board for M&M and posted about it here. In that post I said that I wanted to make a schedule for me as well so that M&M would see what mommy has to get done during the day. Well that was back in May and I finally got it done today. It isn't an exact schedule, but it's a check list that I can show M&M what mommy needs to get done. I have not implemented this yet so we will see what happens. It's nothing fancy either. It's just posterboard, sharpies and clipart pictures from Word. I don't know how to put together anything like this on the computer. I know a lot of people use Publisher, but I don't have that. It works for me though!
I also got the idea to make a calendar with interchangeable numbers and pictures on Blissful Moments. This way M&M can see what is upcoming in the week and look forward to it and when she keeps asking me about something we are doing I can turn to the calendar to show her how many days away it is. She doesn't fully understand the concept of days, but she will grow into it.

Confession time! I am so bad at cleaning my house and most of the time it just gets straightened, dishes are washed and laundry is done and then I don't have time for anything else. I made a schedule with one chore for each day. Again I made it out of posterboard, sharpies, and clipart. This one is mostly for me, but I did pictures so that M&M would know what needs to be done each day. She can either help me or play in her playroom/watch a movie, etc. For instance, she will not help me vacuum because she is terrified of the the loud noise it makes! Silly girl.

Organizing Ideas:
Next up is how I organize my ideas that I get for Tot school. This is the process. When I find an idea on the internet I use Evernote. This way I can highlight what I want and click and it will save it in one of my notebooks. I have made different notebooks for different areas of learning like: shapes, colors, arts and crafts, etc. I also have some for ideas that I get for organization, home decorating, projects I want to do myself or recipes. Once I get an idea in there I will periodically go through each notebook and most likely make a list of the activities in them. I recently found this Lesson Plan Book in the dollar spot at Target. I usually do a letter of the week as the basis for each week of Tot School. Each page as a different letter on it and I write ideas that I want to do on there and which notebook I can find it in on Evernote. The green sticky note as a bunch of words that start with the letter I am using. This allows me to think of ideas I can use for each of the words. I found these words on this website. From those words I go to DLTK and Making Learning Fun to find ideas, as well as the rest of the sites I have listed as resources on the right sidebar. Of course I use ideas that I have found from all of you wonderful bloggers our there.

When I find a paper activity, something that I can print out, I print it out and then put it in this file folder box. Each folder corresponds with a letter of the alphabet. I can just slip that into which letter it goes with and take it out at a later time when I am planning for a certain week to cut out or whatever needs to be done with it. When an activity has several pieces I use all different sizes of ziploc bags to keep all of the pieces together. I'm not very crafty so I just write the title of the activity on masking tape and stick it to the bag. It works!

When I am in the middle of making something I use this hanging file organizer from IKEA to store pieces for the project as well as other odds and ends.
Organizing recipes:

Another thing I am bad at is making dinner. Ever since having Bubba 7 months ago and even before that when I was so pregnant and miserable, I have not felt like cooking dinner or have not had the time to. My poor husband....

I have a bunch of recipes stored up in Evernote and finally got some of them printed out to put in plastic pages in a 3-ring binder with tabs to separate different sections. I found this wonderful menu planning form at The Project Girl website which I use to plan out menus for each week. The planner has a grocery list template on it divided into sections. This is a plus for me so I don't have to have another piece of paper that I could lose. She has some other great forms as well. I have to plan out menus or it will hit 4 o'clock and panic sets in as I scramble around figuring out what to make for dinner.

One more thing:
When all of those Tot school activities are done and we need a place to hang them up we put them on the wall in the playroom. They are actually bath rugs from IKEA that I've tacked up onto the wall. My original idea was to put corkboard behind it, but that project hasn't gotten done yet.

This turned out to be a really long post, but I hope somebody gets some good ideas from it to use in their home to get organized.

It may look like I have life pretty much sorted out, but that is far from the truth. I am really good at putting these things together, but not so good about following them. I am taking steps forward and making progress though and that's what counts, right?

I look forward to looking at everyone else's posts to get some more good ideas!

Tot School July 13-17

This week in Tot School was a tough week trying to get back into the swing of things after being on vacation. Again no time to organize anything so we played a lot of games. I got some of these games on our trip at an education store I went to. I could have spent A LOT of money there, but my husband was with me so I had to keep it to a minimum, hehehe.

Love the $ spot at Target right now with all of the education stuff. I got 7 puzzles and we put them all together this week. M&M is starting to understand how to put regular/jigsaw puzzles together. I love the color one that shows how the two colors mix to make another color.

To go along with the puzzle theme we put together these shape puzzles from Infantino that we got M&M for Christmas. She wasn't ready for them in December, but she is really good at them now.

M&M was really good at these opposite cards. She knows the names of most of them.

M&M is good at saying which things, "match the same", but we learned about the word different this week with these cards. She kept saying "not the same", but eventually she got it.

We also did these cards for three-letter words, but she just put the pictures in order and I showed her that it used letters to spell a word.

That's about it. I hope to get more organized in the near future so we can do some more letter weeks.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Life School

This is really late, but I wanted to post it anyway for my own purposes of memories. On the 4th of July we left to visit my family for a week.

As a little bit of background, all of my family live in one area and all growing up I thought that I would live there as well for the rest of my life. Then I met my husband. He was from another state. When we were first married I didn't even want him to mention the idea of us moving to his state. He still had to finish school, but then a chance came up for a job after he graduated with opportunities that we just couldn't pass it up. God has a way of softening our hearts so that we will follow His will.

Anyway, my husband promised that he would take me back to see my family at least once a year. It was such a treat to go and see everyone and for M&M to play with her cousins from the other side of the family. She actually ended up playing with cousins from my side of the family and from both sides of my husband's family. There was a lot of play going on that week. That's why this week of Tot school was more like Life School.

M&M had the chance to be a princess for a night with the rest of her girl cousins. They wore dresses that my mom made for all of them. They danced the night away with their daddies after a day of getting their hair and nails done.

We had the great opportunity to take her through an open house of a temple of our faith. It was such a wonderful experience and probably the best teaching tool to teach her about the most important thing in her life. We also saw the outside of another temple as well.
(I don't plan on talking a lot about my religion on this blog, but as it is such a big part of our lives the topic will come up once in a while as it relates to teaching M&M in Tot School.)

It was M&M's first time at a Children's Museum where she dressed up as a firefighter, played in a little store and house, and with a Melissa and Doug magnetic maze, and built things with her daddy.

The rest of the time was spent playing with A LOT of cousins on playgrounds while getting really dirty.

Monday, July 20, 2009

iHeart faces week 28: Feet

I have seen the blog I heart faces and loved the idea, but never thought I had anything worthwhile, but when I saw the theme for this week I knew I had to enter.

I love this picture because it shows my daughter's feet after she's played with sidewalk chalk for about an hour. I love all of the details and lines you can see in her feet.

Check out I Heart Faces for more fun feet!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Picnic Table Talk - Imagination

I wasn't able to do last week's Picnic Table Talk because we were on vacation so I'm excited to be back this week.

I really don't have to do much to get M&M to pretend play. We got her a play kitchen 2 Christmas's ago with some plastic play food and that has kept her busy as I sit with her in her play room. She cooks everything and then brings it over to me to eat. I've noticed that I don't need a lot of props for her because she will just pretend to have whatever it is that she wants to play with or pretend to be.

I do have a few dress-up clothes, but they are mostly the fake store-bought skirts and dresses to be a princess. I have a plastic set of make-up (which was very hard to find actually because most make-up sets have real stuff in them even for little girls) that we use to put make-up on each other. I am in the process of re-organizing my playroom right now and I will be setting up an area just for dress-up. I'm trying to think of ways of getting stuff out in the open because for some reason M&M won't dig through boxes, etc. to find any toys, she will only go for the ones that are already out. I need to get things out without it being cluttery. I've painted some wooden hooks to hang up hats and purses and I have a mirror that I'm going to put up so she can see herself all dressed up.

Thanks to my mom and her mad sewing skills, M&M has her own purple princess dress with sparkles and a tiara. I have to brag a little bit because my mom actually made 5 of these dresses for her granddaughters and then she put on a daddy/daughter dance . Earlier in the day the girls, who range in age from 3-5, got their hair done and nails painted at a beauty school. M&M was in heaven as she twirled and danced the night away while sneaking mini cupcakes from the snack table. This was the ultimate pretend play night because she got to be a real princess for a night.

I've noticed that when M&M pretends she doesn't need fancy props and tons of toys, she just uses regular everyday household materials. M&M loves it when I join in on the fun. I let this time be a time where she gets to do and make up whatever she wants. Most of the time I end up being the daughter and she is the mommy so she gets to boss me around. I notice that a lot of what husband and I do comes out in her play. My mom would call this play therapy. She used to do therapy with children and letting them play and act out helped her to see what problems there were when kids didn't want to talk about something. I have to be careful what I do and say because M&M is going to act it out! It also helps me to see what areas I need to improve on and gives me time to think about what I can do better next time when a certain situation comes up.

I have one concern of late with M&M's imagination and that is she is picking up things from other children as she plays with them and her new thing is "killing" things and people. Of course I don't even want her to act this out or even talk about it, but I don't know how to make her see how serious it is. I don't think she understands what it is, but that is something I really don't want her to pretend.

As you can see I don't have a lot to offer in this area, but I am excited to look at what others do so that I can get some great ideas and maybe have some structured time set apart for pretend play. I know M&M would love it!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Tot School -Letter F

Tot School

M&M is 37 months old
We did A LOT this week.

(I am not on my own computer and I can't get into Evernote which I use to store all of my ideas, so I can't link up where I got them, but I will do the best I can.)

We painted with feathers.

And fingerpainted.

We read the book The Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister.

To go along with the book we made our own rainbow fish using a template from, I think, DLTK and tissue paper and tinfoil.

We sorted goldfish crackers by color and then ate them for a snack. I saw this on another blog, but of course don't remember, sorry.

This doesn't have to do with the letter F, but we also did this Melissa and Doug See and Spell puzzle that I got for $10 at a consignment store. I think it is the older version, but that doesn't matter to me!

I laid out all of the letters in alphabetical order and then M&M would pick the letters out that she needed and then I would have her put them back where they belonged. This was a great lesson in alphabetical order for M&M because she just knows how to sing the song, but doesn't know where each letter comes in the alphabet.

We made this cute fish aquarium that I saw, I think, on the Crafts-n-Things blog.

We also glued feathers on the letter F. This idea came from the No Time For Flashcards blog.

We also did several things with foam beads, but this is a picture of what happens when I have to feed Bubba in the middle of an activity.

I taught M&M about patterns with the foam beads. I got this idea and template on the paper from

After that M&M wanted to make letters out of the beads, because everything is about letters these days. I remembered I had these printouts of each letter from, I think, so again, thinking fast to accommodate M&M's ideas I brought these out and we did each letter in her name.

I also saw this snack idea on another blog, but I don't remember. When I get home in a week I will put the links up for all of these things. This is a cup with vanilla pudding topped with crushed Nilla wafers for the beach and blue sprinkles for the ocean. Swedish fish, of course, are the fish. M&M did NOT like the swedish fish at all.

We did flowers with do-a dot paints.

Also did fingerprint flowers.

I found a template for the alphabet, capital and lowercase, on little fish so we went fishing with these cards. I made a fishing pole out of a small dowel, string and a magnet that I hot glued onto the end of the string. Then I put paperclips on all of the lowercase letter cards. When M&M picked one up she would look at it, say what the letter was, and then find the capital letter that matched, which were lined up next to her.

We got out her Lets Go Fishin game and played for a little bit.

But mostly she just wanted to take them out and play with them.

Since it was 4th of July week I remembered that I had this game, 10 days in the USA. The game board is a map of the US and each card has a state on it. We matched a few of the states, but this was too hard for her to do since a lot of them look the same.

We made fireworks by drawing an outline with chalk on black paper and then going over it with glitter glue. The first one is mine and the second one is M&M's.

We were cutting out something and M&M made a mess on the floor so we did a practical life activity of learning how to use a broom and dustpan!
We of course made an American flag with construction paper and silver star stickers. We talked about how the flag is made up of shapes and three colors. This suggestion came from Teaching my little bookworm blog.

As an original idea of my own we made our own flag of shapes and colors.

We gathered up these paint chip samples shaped like Mickey Mouse from Home Depot and made a matching game out of them. I've seen this on several blogs.

Short explanations, but hey, I'm on vacation!


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