Saturday, February 13, 2010

Days of Play--Hide and Seek

We all know how this one goes so get silly and play.  Work on counting, being quiet, object permanence (for wee ones), and belly laughing.

For Younger Kids
Instead of hiding people, hide a toy, count, and look for it together.

For Older Kids
Even if your kids can play this alone, they'll have more fun if you play.  Hide in really hard spots so they'll have good places to go next time their friends are over.

**This is an excellent time to remind children that they should NEVER hide in the fridge, freezer, storage tubs, cooler chests, or any other place that could lead to suffocation**

What cookin' at my house this week?

So here is the Kaufman menu for this week:

  • Monday--Telluride Black Bean Bake (similar)
  • Tuesday--Honey Glazed Chicken  and rice
  • Wednesday--Chocolate Chipotle Fajitas (from my cooking guru Sarah--beg her to post the recipe on her blog )
  • Thursday--Chicken Oreganato
  • Friday--French Dips with homemade hoagies
  • Saturday--Spanish Rubbed Chicken (we didn't eat this last week because of our Valentine's Day dinner)


Enjoy!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Cupidity

Stupidity + Love = Cupidity

I just saw that word and loved it.  It's no secret I love to make up words and this one is brilliant!

Cupidity--I've so been there.  Of course, so has Matt and since this is my blog I'm at liberty to rat him out with few repercussions.
He is so mansome (handsome+man=mansome)


As a part of my Spy School he made me take a quiz about him.  However, he didn't put one right answer, he made it a trick quiz where I had to pick the "most" right answer (very lawyerish of him).

For example:
1.  What is my favorite food?
       A.  Filet Mignon (P.S. One of our early dates he actually pronounced the G in mignon)
       B.  Grandma's fluffy salad (oh, remind me to post this later.  Yummy!)
       C.  Keebler Elf Cookies (Mmmmm)
       D.  Pancakes with peanut butter (ick but whatever)

The correct answer is TACOS--not listed at all.

Needless to say, by the end of the quiz I was convinced I'd been married to a stranger for 7 years and was seconds away from a tantrum furious.  He meant this to be a fun, silly date idea.  I felt like he'd made of fool of me.  I can laugh at it now because that was a moment where Matt demonstrated cupidity perfectly (he does so well most of the time!).

Ah to be fair, my biggest mistake in cupidity is forgetting that I need to woo Matt just like he woos me.  He's a sucker for romance, too (but he'd likely not admit it!).

Ready to confess a moment in cupidity?  Please do.  It'll make us all feel better ...

Happy Valentines to the man who makes me feel cupidity all over!  

P.S.  This photo was taken in Vedauwoo, WY.  It's so beautiful it looks fake but I assure you, it is real!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Date night In--43 Kisses


My husband and I just did this (his idea) and we had SO much fun.

Go here and print off the coupons for 43 kisses and gather some candies (m&ms, Skittles, mints, licorice, Hershey's Kisses), and something to drink (we had ice water and the ice came in handy).

Set the mood! Turn on some music (may I suggest the Rob Pattinson station or Iron and Wine station on Pandora ?), make a comfy spot on the floor, turn off the lights, and light the fire (or some candles).

Take turns drawing different kisses out of a hat.  Kiss your spouse as indicated and then discuss what you liked/didn't like (although kissing is like pizza, even when it's bad, it's still pretty dang good!).

We laughed, we made up our own kisses, we spent some quality time together.  Ahhhhhh.





Things I Love--My Singing Voice

Matt is pretty sweet and always comments on how "cute" my singing voice is. Of course anyone married knows that "cute" can mean "Wow--how amazing!" or it can mean "Aww, it's nice of you to try."  In the case of my singing, cute means the latter.

I really don't care that I can't find rhythm or carry a tune.  I sound better than a rock and I make a joyful noise.  I sing in the car, in the shower, in the kitchen, while I run, while I bike, and while I shop.  I make up lyrics and use singing to promote fun clean up.  I play some wicked awesome air guitar.

I sound terrible and I know it but I don't care.

Here's to singing without regard for the ears next to you!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What I Think About--My Baby Can Read


My Baby Can Read!  But should s/he?

Let me first say that I do not have these “reading” tools but I know some gals who do and I’ve seen them advertised.

As a parent and educator I am against the "Baby Can Read” tools and here is why:

First I think we should question WHY it matters if baby can read.  So you can brag, “MY baby can read”?  So you don’t have to read to baby?   Because the advertising is so effective that you think you are actually harming your baby if he or she can’t read before s/he is two?  There are times when I think we want to know if something can be done so much that we forget if it should be done.  This is one of those cases.

Before I explain why I do not like this program, let me note some positives.

A child who is already reading when s/he enters school will likely be successful at reading in school. The prior ability gives them more confidence in reading and promotes success. (Think back on your education years.  If you were in the advanced reading group, you felt pretty good.  If you were in the slow readers group, you felt pretty bad). 

This being the case, many parents want to help their children read but don’t know how to so they rely on programs like this to teach their kids and the programs are great at getting parents involved in their children’s education.  This is a positive step and most successful children in school have parents who tutor them at home.

While the product does have some positive qualities, let me explain why I do not favor the program.

First, this educational “tool” is marketed in hopes of scaring parents.  If we don’t use the tools, if our babies can’t read then they won’t have the best advantages in life and will be behind.  But is this true or is it marketing? 

Secondly, studies have shown that true reading (and educational) success develops out of a love of reading, not from memorization and words.  Memorization does NOT equal education.  Further research indicates that by ten years of age, early readers are at the same level as the late readers, IF they both love to read. It equals out.

Thirdly, pushing children (especially boys) to read too early can make children hate to read.  Who wants to raise a child who hates to read?

Other data indicates that children who read too early can have eye-tracking problems and can lead to visual issues. Our eyes are meant to go across the page to read a sentence around seven years of age, which is why books for young readers keep sentences short so that young readers are not reading across the page but just one or two words at a time.

Fourthly, I have no doubt that children using the My Baby Can Read  program will learn the words/pictures/actions and they might be able to call out words on a page.  But reading is more than saying words.  Need proof?  Read and do the following:

Por favor, abra la ventana, sacar la cabeza, y gritar me encanta el pastel de queso de chocolate.

Chances are if you took Spanish in high school you could remember some of the words or at least pronounce them.  But do you understand what you just read?  Did you open the window, stick your head out, and scream, “I love chocolate cheesecake?”  If not then you understand what I am talking about.  Just because your baby can “call out” sight words does NOT mean he or she understands what he or she is reading.

Many educators are worried about the effects of teaching children to read quickly without developing comprehension.  This program will exacerbate this problem.

Finally, our children will learn all of these things (reading, phonics, math, astro-physics) in their time. Its called Developmentally Appropriate Practice. Let your children develop at the pace that is right for them.

M.E. "reading" her book.  She's learning about people, shapes, and colors without watching TV, decoding or memorizing (because who wants to do more work than necessary on the potty?).




My bottom line
Research consistently shows that reading, talking and singing to children helps them develop language and reading skills.  Our little kids need to be little. They learn more through play, exploration, and interaction than through any other tool—including watching “educational videos” (and remember the AAP suggests NO screen time for kids under two).

As a mom, I’ve made it my mission to encourage my children to love books and reading by reading to them and letting them see me read. 

My baby can’t read! 
My 4 year old can’t read!
But I can read and I love it!  So let’s cuddle up and rock some Peter Rabbit!


M.E. and Daddy cuddle and read.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Too Clean Tuesday--Shine Your Sink

You are going to think I'm type A, unbalanced, nuts a little over the top but for some reason, having a shiny kitchen sink seems to make my day/week/month better.  I found the original directions for sink shining here but I modified them (mainly because I don't want to wait an hour for the bleach to work and like to do both sides of my sink at once!).

So here's how to get a shiny sink Reagan style.

  • Remove dishes from your sink and rinse food gunk down drain. Run disposal.
  • Put in sink plugs.
  • Fill BOTH sides of the sink with hot water (as hot as possible).
  • Add 1 cup of bleach OR ammonia to each side and continue filling with water until water is at the brim.  (Side note: I perfer the ammonia to the bleach because if you drip the bleach water on you or a sink towel you'll get a bleach stain.)
  • Let your sinks soak for 15+ minutes.  (Let's be honest, if you sink is pretty nasty soaking might take an hour).
  • Using tongs OR dishwashing gloves, pull the plugs.  Remember the water is HOT. *If you used bleach DON'T touch your clothing!*
  • Rinse Why rinse? Because you'll be adding other cleaners and you can't mix bleach/ammonia cleaning products.  It produces deadly gasses--much more serious than those produced from too much refried beans and greens.
  • Get a rag and some Comet (or Ajax or a non-abrasive cleaner) and scrub the inside of your sink.  A sludgy grey goo will come off.  You never knew that was on there, did you? Don't use steel wool or harsh abrasives--they will scratch your sink).
  • Rinse.  Yes, again.  I use Comet with bleach and I don't want to mix that with the ammonia-based Windex that I use.
  • Dry with a towel.
  • Now spray your sink with a glass cleaner and wipe it out with a paper towel.

Your sink should be super shiny now.

To maintain the look, simply wash all your dishes in the bathtub.  Just kidding.

Every time you use your sink, DRY it (leave a towel right by the--even your kids will catch on but I make no promises about husbands.  I'm not sure my DH has ever noticed that the sink is shiny).

If you don't want to maintain it, do this once every month or so.  You'll be glad you did (especially after you see the grey goo.  Part of you will always think--ick, the sink is filthy unless I can see my face in it!).

Monday, February 8, 2010

How to Become a Time Management Junkie--Part I

My shortfalls are many.

I'm either neurotic or I'm crazy.  But then, I repeat myself.


  • I talk too loud, too much, and too often—mostly about myself and my family (which might explain this blog).
  •  I am very sarcastic. This can be funny when properly used.  When used in battle, it can be downright destructive.
  •  I have a porcupine personality.  Great to see—hard to get close.  I’m not sure why but I’ve always kept people at an arms length and am very slow to warm up.  On the other hand, once we’re close, I stick by you and am hard to get away from (sort of like pulling quills out of a dog’s nose).
  •  I really like things done the right way (read: my way).
  •  I am overly quirky.  I can’t sleep if all the light switches aren’t going the same direction, spoons/forks/knives can never touch in the dishwasher, and wars have been fought over bed making, which direction the open end of the pillows should face and how curtains should be drawn. 
  •  I can be critical and judgmental.  See above. 

One area, however, where I consider myself mostly successful is in time management.

My personal philosophy: When God created time, He created enough of it



Insert warning.  I’m going to be a bit raw and honest in my forthcoming statements.  If you are thin skinned, stop here.  If you want to read it and it makes you mad, sorry.  Please send hate mail to my PR person.

Probably my #1 pet peeve are the people who say, “I don’t have time to ____exercise, read to my children, make a healthy meal, mail a birthday card, pray …_____.”  This extends to the “I’m too busy” people, too.

What I’d really like to explain to those folks is:
  • You are not lacking any more time than the rest of us; you are misusing your time more than the rest of us.
  •  We are all busy.  I know retired people who are busy.  Until you walk eight miles to get water and then carry it back eight miles to the home you hand built where you’ll boil the water over a fire made of sticks you hunted for so you can hand wash your only other set of clothing which you will line dry as you go work in your small garden and care for your animals, the product of which you will use to make your meal from scratch, I don’t want to hear it. 
  • What doesn’t make your “To Do” list says more about you than what does.
  • We are not too busy.  We are too self-important.
Phew.

So I can manage time but I’m not perfect at it.  In fact, I am VERY much a work in progress but I’d like to share some skills and routines that help me decide how to divide my time, talents, and treasures (and still have time to talk to my sister on the phone a couple times a day). 

Okay, after posting the mullet photo twice, I decided I better put in a photo of 
my sister when she looks hot!


Check back for more information on skills and routines I find invaluable.


Days of Play--Spaghetti Monsters

Tactile play is an amazing way to help your children explore and learn.  In this day of play, take 1/4 box of spaghetti noodles and cook them according to directions.  Drain and **cool** them.

Put the cooled noodles in a big bowl and let your kids squish around in them.

For Younger Children:
This is perfectly acceptable for little ones but you will need to watch for noodle pieces heading toward the mouth.

For Older Kids:
Give each child their own bowl.  Have them wash their hands.  Add pasta sauce and an art smock.  Presto! Lunch you can play with!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Souper Bowl Sunday

Today is the Super Bowl and I must admit that I'm not exactly a fan of pro football.  That being said, I am rooting for the Saints since this is their first Super Bowl bid and the Colts won a few years ago.

Geaux Saints! (only Matt will understand the irony of why I chose to spell Go that way).



Anyhow, what really matters to me on this momentous day in American football (that we have momentous days in sports I'll leave for another day), is the FOOD.

Not too many years back I made Rilda's Kickin' Chicken Corn Chowder for a Souper Bowl party and it won first place. I got a big (and I mean BIG) trophy and everything.

But today's soup is Taco Soup courtesy of Matt's Aunt Amy.  We'll be having chips and queso and so dipping veggies as well.  Mmmmmm.

Amy Brock's Taco Soup


Ingredients
2 lb. ground beef (or turkey)
1 chopped onion
2 pkgs dry Ranch Dressing
2 pkgs taco seasoning mix
3 cans chicken broth
2 cans black beans (drained and rinsed)
2 cans northern beans (drained and rinsed)
2 cans pinto beans (drained and rinsed)
2 cans Rotel tomatoes (mild if you need it!)
2 c. frozen corn

Directions

  1. Brown ground beef and drain off the grease.  
  2. Add onion, Ranch and taco seasonings to the beef and mix well.
  3. Add broth, beans, tomatoes, and corn.
  4. Bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat.  Stir and simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve it up!
Serve with freshly shredded cheese, Frito Scoops, and green onions.  Sour cream makes this divine.

Freeze it!
This is a large batch so if you'd like, set half aside to cool.  Once cooled, put into a gallon freezer bag, lay flat, and freeze.  To reheat, thaw and warm.

**Why cool it first?  If you put this into the oven hot it will produce steam which will freeze as crystals**

Don't like meat?
This is a great vegetarian meal if you replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth and remove the beef.  If you desire, Portabella mushrooms make a mean beef substitute!

Enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday!