Thursday, April 28, 2011

Facebook Giveaway

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients

To celebrate my facebook page and the creation of my new button (Thanks Geof!) I am offering a giveaway of one of my favorite cookbooks: Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients.   It is a wonderful book with step by step instructions on how to make yummy, healthy, and sometimes gluten free breads at home.  I like it and I know you will too.

Here is how to enter:

1. "Like" What This Mom Thinks on Facebook.  Leave a comment on this post to let me know you did.

2.  Post this giveaway on your wall.  Again, leave a comment that lets me know you did.

3. Link this giveaway to your blog.  Leave the link in the comment section.

4. Tweet about the giveaway.  I tweet (sometimes) @thismomthinks. Then leave me a message in the comments.

5. Sign up to follow me by email on the sidebar of my blog.   And comment to let me know!

The giveaway lasts until Mother's Day, May 8, 2011.  A winner will be randomly drawn on May 9, 2011.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Institutionalized Snacking

* This is a reprint from last July, but baseball just started and I am battling snacks again!

Snacks have been a subject near and dear to my heart for years.  I have fond memories of an after school snack waiting when I got home.  I still enjoy a mid-afternoon bite every once and a while, but I have grown a bit tired of what I call “Institutionalized Snacking”.  Everywhere my children go, they are offered a snack.  It has become a bit much.  Perhaps I have become more aware of it because kid #1 is gluten intolerant and can’t eat most snacks offered.  It seems that I am constantly running gluten free junk food to school, baseball games, church, and Cub Scout events.  There are birthday parties, pizza parties, bake sales, ice cream parties, and the standard Valentine, Halloween, and other holiday parties.  When kid #1’s class had a young authors’ event, there were cookies and lemonade. I forgot to send a cookie and kid #1 was the ONLY child that didn’t eat a cookie.  Then to make matters worse, there were so many cookies donated for the event the class ate them for an afternoon snack for the next two days.  Kid #3 insists on going to the barber shop with her father every three weeks when he gets his hair cut because she leaves there with fists FULL of candy.  Kid #1 (used to) gets off the bus with a lollipop or a stick full of sugar as a reward for good behavior. 

Now that kid #1 and kid #3 are playing organized baseball, the snack issue has again reared its high fructose corn syrup covered, ugly head.  When my children are going to participate in exercise I prepare a meal (or snack) ahead of time to give them the energy to complete the task.  I also provide them with adequate water while competing.  When we get home my kids will also get a healthy meal (or snack).  Don’t get me wrong, our family has gone to the local ice cream shop after one of the games this year and all enjoyed a frozen treat, but my children were not allowed to have that AND the snack offered.  I do not feel that parents are intentionally sending chocolate sandwich cookies and “punch” boxes to sabotage the health of children, but enough already! 

Here are the institutionalized snack rules at our house.
1. Always use your manners.  We simply say, “yes please” or “no thank you”.  (Kid #1 once began to explain that the “juice” box wasn’t really juice and that is why he didn’t take it!  We don’t want to offend people!)
2. You must ask your parents before you take a snack.  Especially since there is some label reading that has to go on with us!
3. If you take the high sugar snack food, then you may not have the juice.  It is one or the other, not both.
4. The snack has to come back to us to be opened.  At one of the recent ball games the snack was fruit snacks.  Each 4 year old was given a bag that had 3 servings in them!  Kid #3 ate those snacks on and off for a week.  Most of her teammates had them finished before reaching the parking lot. 
5. We don’t eat anything until we get to the car.  We have a lot of kids, gear, and a wheelchair to push. The addition of snacks can add 20 minutes to getting to the car.

My kids aren’t always happy about our snack rules.  Don’t feel too sorry for them though.  They eat junk food too, but I have noticed that they are now turning down the offered food because they prefer what’s at home.  After the last few ball games we have had freshly popped popcorn, frozen fruit smoothies, watermelon, and Larabars.  We recently took our turn at snacks and I let my kids pick what they wanted to take.  Their choices: 100% juice pouches, apple slices (in individual bags – a big treat) and cheese sticks.  I was pretty impressed. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

40 Bags Update

Here is the last update for my Lenten plan to get rid of 40 bags in 40 days.

I deep cleaned my closet and really looked at the items inside it.  I got rid of all the "stuff" I had plans to fit into, was holding on to for no reason and was worn out or stretched out.  I was able to get 3 garbage bags of clothes out of my closet and drawers.  I also had a bag of garbage. (4 bags)

Even though it snowed a week ago, I cleaned out the front coat closet.  I got 2 bags from there in shoes, boots, gloves and coats.

I cleaned under the bed in the girls' room.  Kid #3 is hoarder.  1 bag!

Got rid of a broken car seat (fit in a trash bag), broke down a ton of cardboard (I have a habit of saving the boxes of items I buy.) 3 bags.

I also cleaned out the laundry room!  1 bag.

That is 11 bags.  Taking my total to 42 bags!  Whoo  Hooo!

This is a project I will continue.  I am enjoying decluttering.   Looking at my closet makes me happy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kid #4

I am finishing my Kid Profiles with Kid #4.  She is actually #4.1, a gift from God to heal my broken heart after losing Mary Grace at 21 weeks.
She is such a happy baby.  Easy going and cuddly.  Perfect attitude for Kid #4.

She loves her siblings and always wants to be with them (which is never a problem, someone is always around).
Her relationship with Kid #2 is amazing.  Kid #2 is such a good sister.  Having a baby sister has taught her so much.
She is patient and smiley.  She is a good eater and her chubby legs are adorable!
She is so wonderful.  She is beginning to scoot and roll.  I love how excited the big kids get while watching her!
Still not sleeping through the night, but I look forward to getting up (most of the time) and cuddling her.  I know the blessing I was given.  I am having so much fun!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

40 Bags Update

I have managed to get a few more bags together, but I plan to rally next week.

Here is what I've done:

2 boxes (not bags, but I am counting it) of books to the library for donation
3 bags of recycling from breaking down boxes and organizing things
3 bags of clothing donated
2 bags of baby clothes given to friends
3 bags of random trash from cleaning the basement
2 bags from organizing the girls room
2 bags taken to the resale shop
2 bags taken to the post office (sold on eBay)

Total: 19  Add those to the 12 I had before and that gives me a total pf 31 bags!  One more week to meet my goal.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kid #3

Oh, Kid #3 is something else!
She is chatty and fun at home.  She is shy and quiet everywhere else, but that is improving.
She is an outdoor girl.  She loves hiking with her dad and playing basketball with her big brother.
She is a "little momma".  She loves to be in the kitchen, folding laundry, taking care of the baby and helping Kid #2.
She is a daisy scout, plays t-ball and is starting girls' hockey this week!
She loves learning at home and tells everyone that she is homeschooled.  She has been a great Guinea pig!
She has a mind of her own which is not always fun, but will get her far in life.  No one takes advantage of this one!
She is spunky and kind, fun and wild, sassy and smart.  I can't wait to see what she becomes!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Homeschooling and The Civil War

 The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns

It is no secret that I have dabbled in homeschooling.  I began really researching the option about 18 months ago.  I must admit, I didn't really get it.  I mean, I am a teacher, I knew I could teach them but what and when and how...I just couldn't wrap my head around it.

We made the decision not to send Kid #3 to preschool this year.  I decided to dip my toe into the homeschooling water before I could do any "real damage".  I also opted out of the full day kindergarten option for Kid #2 choosing "only" the half day of kindergarten and homeschooling her in the afternoons.  Kid #1 is in third grade in our public school and doing fine, but there are a few things I would change if I could.  He has recently taken a huge interest in the Civil War.  That interest and a not so great report card lead me to trying an experiment this week.

Experiment #1: Homeschooling all the children together (with the baby!).

Experiment #2: Homeschooling without spending a ton of $$ on supplies.

Experiment #3: Homeschooling without the house looking like a bomb went off.

This week was our district's spring break.  It also is the week that Ken Burns' The Civil War is on PBS.  So, Sunday we headed off to the local library.  Kid #1 needs to recite a poem for school, so our book selections included Civil War and Walt Whitman.  I began to scour the internet for maps, worksheet and other materials.  PBS has supplemental material on their website although I had to modify it for a third grader.  I was amazed how much we were able to get done in such a short time.  We read Civil War books, discussed history, learned about the US geography at the time, read and wrote poetry, did a few drawings, created a Civil War portfolio, completed word searches and discussed battle strategies and watched some Ken Burns.  Wow!  We were able to complete this at our own pace, between loads of laundry and other fun stuff.  I know homeschooling mothers are laughing at me, but I really was surprised how quickly we worked (most days).

The girls were also busy with alphabet practice, cutting practice, counting, art projects, and cooking.  They also did a bit of Civil War work.  Kid #1 read the girls a book on Abraham Lincoln.  Kid #3 drew a picture of Lincoln and I found a few coloring sheets for the Civil War.  They also colored a USA map, but a current one. 

We ate full breakfasts.  There was no yelling, "Hurry up, we have to go!".   Our schedule was wake about 7, eat breakfast, care for Lizard (Yes, we are caring for a neighbor's lizard.), clean up (ourselves, our rooms and the kitchen), get dressed and begin school.  School usually started at 9:30 and we completed our lessons by lunch and after lunch took time to make crayon cakes(a later post), play a family game on the Wii (it rained a lot this week) or read books.  A few days we got outside, but it was only a couple.

I will have to discuss my observations with my husband (I am sure he has a few observations too!).  We will be making a decision about what to do for next year shortly.  All I can say is whether or not we homeschool full time I think I will continue to create units based on my children's interests.  It was fun!

I found that:

#1. I can homeschool all levels, even the baby.
#2. I didn't spend any money this week (Although I did find a set of history books I'd like.)
#3 The bomb wasn't any bigger than it usually is!

I told a friend that my heart was full this week.  That is the best way I can describe it.  Having all my kids with me all week made me happy!  Really Happy.  I know every week won't be easy, but I am eager to try!

Kid #2

Today it is on to Kid #2.  She is my blue eyed beauty with a heart of gold.
She was a quiet baby, until at 4 months she had her first seizure and I had to rescue breathe for her.  We found out then that she had schizencephaly.  Basically, she had a stroke in utero resulting in brain damage (causing the seizures).  She also is paralyzed on her right side, has CP, and is globally delayed.
That is what she has, but it is not who she is.  She is sweet and kind.  She loves people.

She wants to do what everyone else does.  I think that perseverance is why she has come so far.

She loves her family and God.  She reminds us at every meal to pray (she likes to hold hands while we pray).  Her prayer: "God is good, Amen."  Yes, He is and she is proof of that.

She is a Daisy Scout and a HUGE fan of Dora.  She loves her brother and sisters.  She is Daddy's girl.
She sees a lot of doctors and gets a lot of pokes.  She has had more medical appointments than I have in my live, but she is so brave.  She does what she has to do and we both have a good cry!

She also does everything the others do, in her own way.  My husband and I are committed to helping her have those experiences.  She has taught me so much in her 7 years.  People always tell me how lucky she is to have us, but I really feel I am the lucky one.

 Her hard work, desire to keep trying, ability to adapt, and her love for everyone are the gifts she brings to our family.  We are all better people because we are loved by Kid #2.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Kid #1

I have often thought about doing a profile on each kid, so that I can look back someday and have a "snapshot" of the kind of person that they are right now.  I will begin today at the beginning with Kid #1.

My only boy.  In a house with 3 sisters.  He is a very patient young man. 

He is helpful and kind.  He struggles with his confidence and trying to please people.  Sometimes I wonder, what is he thinking?

He loves Legos, Nerf guns and video games (with screen time limits).  He is a Bear Scout and a real fisherman.

He would wear a jersey every day, but knows he can't wear one to church.  He loves sports - both playing and watching.
He is a really faithful kid.  He has said he might want to be a priest or a pro football player!
He has taken a sudden interest in the Civil War and asked me to develop a lesson about it!  He is investing 5 days in the Ken Burns documentary on PBS.

He has a gluten intolerance and deals with it on his own.  He has had to turn down a lot of treats because he knows they will make him sick.  He says it doesn't bother him, but I think sometimes it does.
He is the best big brother and a really great son.  He is the kid most like me, so it isn't always easy.  But I love being his mom!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

My First Article - What's a mom to do

Here is a link to my first "official" article in our local paper.   I am hard at work on my next one.  I will post links each time they make it in!