Monday, October 31, 2011

First Time Books Review

Happy Halloween!

I was invited to review a book from First Time Books and it came just in time for Halloween.  We have the Halloween Adventure Book.

You can personalize this book with your child's name, their friends, gender, ethnicity, and personalize a message at the beginning.

My little one was thrilled this weekend and has kept this book under her pillow. 

The pictures are great, the story line is fun, and we are ALWAYS up for some books!  The only issue was that my 9 year old daughter was less than thrilled to be a clown with bright orange hair!

As holiday season and gift giving time is here, consider First Time Books!

PS - in case you were wondering, yes, Tom did dress up as Moses for seminary this morning.  He was teaching about him and since it was Halloween, thought it would keep their attention if he dressed up.  That's a black fake spiderweb that he is using for a beard! If you don't know Tom, this isn't anything.  If you do know him, this might be the funniest thing you've seen.

PPS - yes, I am going to get in trouble for posting this.  So worth it.  It makes me laugh hard every time I look at it.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Grateful Sunday

Yeah, we've finally made it!  Halloween is here!  I am grateful for:
  • I serve as the Young Women President for my church.  I am SO thankful for those ladies that serve on the board with me.  They are hard workers with such a positive attitude and they are more than willing to do anything that needs to get done.  I am grateful that I get to serve with these women and their testimonies.
  • I am grateful for all the time I get to spend with my little one while the big kids are in school.  She isn't in pre-school yet, she doesn't nap, so it is just the two of us all day and I am grateful for this time.
  • I am grateful for a dear friend who dropped everything to help my oldest daughter out!  I am grateful for friends who can step in and help my children and genuinely care about them.
  • I am grateful that it will not be bitter cold for Trick or Treating tomorrow.
Life is oh so good!  What are you grateful for?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Are You Ready?

The advent calendar (before you ask - I did not make that, I bought it years ago) says that we have 4 days left!  Really?

The candy jar is looking empty; the candles are half burnt.  I guess it is closer than I thought.

We did make the Haunted Houses out of chocolate graham crackers already.

And I think I only have a bandanna left to find and then all the costume preparations are made.  Any guesses on what the youngest is dressing up as this year?

I just have some dry ice to purchase, a door to decorate for trick or treaters, and a pot of chili to make.  I guess I'm ready - are you?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Keep Kids Teeth Spookily Clean

In August, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Salzer - a renowned dentist AND a mother of four!  She provided a Crest giveaway and she is also one of the founders of Braced-lets and provided another giveaway!  This week, I was able to ask some more dental hygiene questions - it's especially on my mind as I am seeing ALL the sugar that is ALREADY around!

Laurel:  What is the best candy for kids and their teeth on Halloween?

Dr. Salzer:  Gummy candies and taffy are more likely to lead to tooth decay, particularly when they get stuck in-between teeth making it difficult for saliva to wash away. Try sticking to sugar-free lollipops and hard candies – these treats stimulate saliva helping to prevent dry mouth. A dry mouth allows plaque to build up on teeth faster, leading to an increased risk of decay and cavities. It's key to make sure they don't snack on it over a long period of time. It's better to let them eat whatever pieces they select and then get busy brushing!

Laurel:  What can I do as a parent to encourage teeth brushing, especially with the tweener age that doesn't really get motivated with gimmicks?

Tweens often have their own tastes and style so it can be difficult at times for them and their parents to see eye-to-eye. When it comes to oral care products, they no longer are interested in the children's products, while at the same time adult products can often be too spicy or too big for a tween's mouth. I've found that with my children the Crest and Oral-B Pro-Health FOR ME line really works well as it is made just for them. The toothbrushes are just the right size for their mouths and the toothpaste and rinse flavors are a good balance of minty and sweet. Giving tweens their own unique, non-gimmicky, products can help encourage independence and healthy habits.

Laurel: Any tips for encouraging independence in children's oral care routines?
Dr. Salzer: I believe the best way to help children develop better brushing habits is to instill a routine at an early age. My favorite way to keep my kids on track with their oral care is to create a “morning routine” checklist for them to follow each day. It features all the steps they need to take in the morning to get ready for school including brushing, flossing, making the bed and more. At the end of every month the one with the most check marks receives a small prize. It is a great way to help your children take responsibility for their oral care with minimal prodding from you.

Laurel's thoughts:  I., who is 9, really does like the Crest FOR ME line.  She likes the big kid tooth bushes - not adult brushes, but they also don't have pictures of Disney Princesses.  We do have a chart for our kids and it works for my girls, but my boy - who really needs it - could care less.  I'm not sure my thoughts on Halloween candy - for the most part, we try to stay peanut and tree nut free in this home, so hard candies are a bigger hit.  Maybe I'll get a bag of sugar-free lollipops and see if I can sell it to my kids!

Thanks for your time Dr. Salzer!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Grateful Sunday

Today is my baby's birthday - she is 4!!  What a blessing she is to me!  When I was pregnant with her, we were living in a little apartment waiting for our Phoenix home to sell and our Denver home to be built.  Everything was up in the air and I was not settled.  When I had my first ultrasound with this baby, there was such a feeling of peace and I was assured that this child was to come to our family at this time - no matter what the worldly things we had going on in our lives at the time!

Today she is a big girl and words can't express how grateful I am for her!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pop Up Haunted Houses

My kids are home for fall break and it is time to do some arts with them!  We ran across this idea on Make and Takes and got pretty excited.  We had all the supplies, every child could do it - perfect for a gray fall day.

The oldest two cut their own houses out with some guidance.  G. decided to go three story.  Then, we colored in the details.

Maybe we should also include painting fingernails this fall break?

Use water colors and paint right over the color crayon.  The crayon pops!

Yes, we totally listened to Halloween Party on pandora while we worked ( and yes, despite my sister's opinion - we like Jack Johnson)

We glued a piece of construction paper to the back for stability and added details.  M. would tell me what she wanted and I cut them out - pumpkins, cats, moons.

I's house

G's house

M's house:

This was REALLY fun - totally recommend it if you are looking for some ways to fill up your day!  Today we are decorating graham cracker haunted houses and then we've got one more craft for Friday!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Canned

not MY pantry

This is the type of post that will make my sister roll her eyes - so just don't read sis.  My grandma had a food storage room in her basement.  It was lined with shelves of canned food.  It wasn't my favorite food to taste, but I loved looking at it.  Did everyone's grandma have a room like that?
Last week, Tom decided that we were done gardening.  Thank goodness, I got a little tired of it about a month ago.  He picked everything that was left in the garden. The same week, I bought a 40 pound box of apples that I had plans for. I got bowls and bowls of fresh produce that I didn't want to go to waste, so I rolled my sleeves up and spent the entire week in the kitchen.    In the end, we made this:

12 pints applesauce - I flavor with a little vanilla - not cinnamon
9 quarts apple pie filling
6 pints salsa
6 pints tomato sauce
4 gallons frozen tomato sauce
1 batch cilantro sauce
4 dozen chocolate zucchini muffins
5 dozen ultimate zucchini cookies
2 quarts blanched carrots in freezer
2 quarts grated carrots in freezer
2 quarts grated zucchini in freezer
6 pints pickled beets
4 pints refrigerator pickles

Some things I've learned:
  1. I'm not a huge canner, but if I do it in small batches, in pint size jars, it seems more manageable.
  2. The kids are more likely to help if we pretend we are in Little House on the Prairie.
  3. The floor needs to be mopped every day.
  4. Jars of food that you grew yourself and then canned yourself are WAY prettier than a grocery store can.
  5. I don't know what I'm doing, but there are A LOT of people online that do know what they are doing - thank goodness!
  6. It really does help to have the right tools.  I started out just winging it with what we had, but after splashing boiling water on my neck, I bought some basic supplies!  So worth it!
  7. I don't know why I didn't like it as a kid - we think it is delicious now!
  8. With my daughter's allergies getting worse and worse, it makes me nervous to see food that might or might not have been processed in a plant with her possible allergies.  The comfort this gives me to know where this food has come from and that it is safe, is worth it.
  9. Don't worry - my husband kept a running tally of the money this was costing, just to see if it was cheaper.  I was curious too.  In the end, it was a little bit cheaper than buying store bought, but I did have to get a lot of supplies this year.  Now, I already have the jars.
So that is what I did all last week. Any questions?  I probably don't have the answers, but I can guide you a bit!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Grateful Sunday

I am grateful for:
battery operated candles that come on automatically
a gift from a friend that knows me so well that even only my husband or my sister could have nailed it like she did.
another week of fall break
looking at atlas books with my kiddos

What are you grateful for?

Easy Canvas Prints Winner

Congratulations - the winner, chosen from, is Mary from Rain in My Head.
I've emailed you!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Halloween Inspiration via Pinterest

First of all - does anyone know why my followers are not showing up?  I've been working on it for the past week and am about ready to throw up my hands and admit defeat.  Blogger is so not easy to work with at times!  HELP!

Second - have you entered my Giveaway yet? You don't have to get a print - you can always choose your favorite photograph and have it put on canvas.  There are only 6 entered yet - so your odds are REALLY good!

Third - I LOVE pinterest!  I know, so does everyone else.  These are my favorite Halloween ideas!  I'm not sure why the links are at the bottom (blogger and I are not getting along this week).

Source: via Laurel on Pinterest

My kiddos are on Fall Break - hopefully I can have time to stop preserving all the food from our garden and follow through on some crafts!
Do you pin?
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