Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sesame Street K'NEX & Giveaway Winners

Blogging has brought many fun things into my life. Including the opportunity to receive free toys for my daughter, in exchange for my review.

This week, Charlotte and I played with a Sesame Street K'NEX building set. We received a box featuring Elmo's World and his piano building set. The Sesame Street K'NEX series is the first aimed at the 2-5 year old crowd. Though Charlotte is a little bit younger than that, I didn't find any of the pieces too small for her mouth or hands.

As a matter of fact, the pieces fit comfortably together, to the point that Charlotte could put them together and take them apart with out much trouble. She wasn't able to build the piano set, or the Elmo duck, fish, or dog following the directions that came with it, but she did have fun pretending to play Elmo's piano. Music is one of our new signs and it was a good chance to practice it with her.

It was also fun to see that Charlotte liked to try and wear Elmo's blue hat. Hat is a sign she has known for a while and today really proved to me that she knew what hats were. Now, we just need to work on the eyes in the back of her head.
To heighten the play experience and further children's growth and development, each set includes engaging and interactive educational content such as tips for parents and fun activity cards for kids, as well as lots of building ideas.
They also have sets featuring Super Grover, Cookie Monster, Abby Cadabby, Bert & Ernie, Hooper's Store, and Oscar the Grouch. They should be available on shelves later this month. The prices are reasonable too, starting at $10.99 for a 14-15 piece set and moving all the way up to $31.99 for 80-piece sets.

Now your tots and toddlers can create their very own versions of their favorite Sesame characters – so cute. Check them out by visiting the K'NEX website.

And the 2 winners of last week's Savor the Moments giveaway are......

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2008-10-01 00:21:16 UTC

I have contacted Lisa and Dana via e-mail and they have until Thursday to get back to me with their contact information. This just shows that blogging about my giveaways for an extra entry can really pay off!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Breast Cancer

I mentioned recently that I am participating in the local Making Strides for the Cure walk. I am very excited that I have raised more than half of the goal that I set. My current goal is $250. Would you please consider making a donation to help me reach that goal?

Below is a message from the American Cancer Society about the walk and the work is supports.

This year, hundreds of thousands of people will hear the words "You have breast cancer," and there's a good chance that some of them will be people we know and love. I have chosen to fight back against this disease and help make a difference by participating in the American Cancer Society, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, and I hope you will join me by making a donation in support of my effort.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is a noncompetitive walk that takes place in 120 communities across the country. From Arizona to Maine and Washington to Florida, Making Strides walkers unite to honor breast cancer survivors and to educate women about early detection and prevention. By raising money to support the American Cancer Society fight against breast cancer, we help fund groundbreaking research, public awareness campaigns, efforts to ensure all women have access to mammograms, and free programs and services that improve the quality of life for patients and their families.

I hope you will support my efforts by making a donation using my personal online fundraising page. It's safe and simple. All you have to do is click the link below and follow the few easy steps. Last year, 450,000 Making Strides participants raised $45 million ... and they did it one donation at a time. So, whether you're able to give $5 or $500, every bit truly does help. Hope starts one dollar at a time.

Hope starts with me, and hope can start with you. Thank you in advance for any support you may be able to offer.

In other "raising awareness about breast cancer news" Props and Pans is giving away 1 set of DVDs for the Cure in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness month in October. Please visit their sites for details on how to enter.

So, there you have it - 2 ways to make a difference in the lives of women with breast cancer - and you didn't even have to get out of your seat!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Links to waste 10 minutes with

I was browsing the Frogpond recently, and decided to pass on a few of the links I enjoyed discovering. Why not waste a few minutes of your life by clicking on over? I mean hey, you are already reading blogs... what s a few more minutes? :)

Visit Who Is There for You? - If you are having a bad day, this might restore your faith in humanity. If you just want to win cold, hard cash, then the 1st thing you'll be interested in at this site is a chance to win $100, or $25,000. After that, you might want to read the stories of regular people who have been helped by extraordinary people.

Typeracer - I have always prided myself on my typing skills. I've been on a computer since I was in the 4th grade, thanks to a geeky Radio Shack dad. Why not waste a few minutes and see how you stack up?

Visit Project Brain Child - Are you an American Express card member? If so, why not cast your vote in the Members Project. The project I've linked to is trying to raise fund to address childhood brain cancer.

Your clicks help increase my status as a BzzAgent. Thanks!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Woogi! Woogi! Woogi!

Woogi! Woogi! Woogi!

Doesn't that sound funny? I thought so and so did my daughter when I kept repeating it to her. Of course, it doesn't take much to make a toddler giggle.

Woogi is the name of a "social networking" site for elementary aged and younger kids. I suppose it is similar to WebKinz, but Woogi has some features that make it stand out as definitely different, including a parental interaction feature that allows parents to influence the rewards their child receives in Woogi World.

Since my daughter is too little to appreciate Woogi World (except for how silly the name sounds), I asked the daughter of a friend of mine to take a look around and give me her opinion. Lindsey is 10 years old and in the 5th grade. Here is the review she wrote for Woogi World:

Woogi World is my new favorite website in the whole world! It's cute, fun and you even make new friends through it! It's awesome!!!!!

First, you select a cute Woogi. Then, you choose a name for it. Next, you make a private password. Then, you are basically all ready to play!

Some things I liked about Woogi World are:

  • That it is just a fun, cute website!
  • The games are cool, and
  • the places are cooler than you can imagine!

Some dislikes about Woogi World are:

  • That it takes you awhile to get the right name for your Woogi, some names are not allowed.
  • Another thing is that you can't chat with anybody till your up to the 2nd level.

And that's really all. Woogiworld.com rocks!!!!!!

Thanks Lindsay!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Day with Friends

Charlotte and I spent Saturday hanging out with an old college friend of mine and her two young kids. Tammie and I have been friends since 1996 and I don't think she looks a day older than the day I met her!

Her kids are too cute for words... and I have the pictures to prove it! Here is Asa on his first monorail ride. Clearly, he is looking forward to a great day!
Eden got in on the excitement while we were riding the monorail too.

Even with all of the fun to be had, both of the girls still needed their midday naps. Charlotte hung out in her carrier...

while Eden laid back in the stroller.

After lunch, we finally found a ride that all 5 of us could enjoy! The carousel.

Asa had read a brochure on things to do with the under-5 set and couldn't wait to get on the Dumbo ride (and Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride).
And some way, some how, his precious smile convinced me to get on the Teacups. I always regret that decision!

As I went to wrap up this post, I realized that I had only taken 2 or 3 pictures of Charlotte the entire day! Sorry Grandpa Sabin... I promise to take some more in the next week or so to share with you and the rest of the world.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Savor the Moment

I have an adult giveaway today... that is, one for the parents to enjoy, not just the kids. And actually, you don't even have to be a parent for this one, just someone who likes to try new foods.
Pillsbury Savorings Flaky Pastry Bites feature warm, flaky pastry dough wrapped around tasty fillings and come in three varieties; cheese and spinach, buffalo style chicken and mozzarella and pepperoni. They are easy to prepare (just 20 minutes in the oven) and are the perfect accompaniment to a glass of wine.
The buffalo style chicken one is sure to be my favorite. I love anything buffalo. When my husband has to order at a restaurant for me, he knows he can't go wrong if he gets me a dish with buffalo in the name. I bet the kids would like the pepperoni one the best, and the cheese and spinach ones would make nice appetizers for a wine party.

There will be 2 big winners this week and they will receive a Savoring the Moment gift bag which includes:
  • a coupon to try Pillsbury Savorings Flaky Pastry Bites free,
  • a wine bottle topper,
  • wine glass charms,
  • a bottle opener,
  • a wine and food guide,
  • stampable wine tags, and
  • an appetizer plate that also holds your wine glass.
One runner up will also receive a coupon to try the Pastry Bites for free as well!

I will randomly draw 2 lucky winners next Monday. There are three ways to enter and you can do any of them you like, for up to three entries:
  1. Leave a comment telling me you want to enter,
  2. Subscribe to my RSS feed, and leave a 2nd comment telling me you did so, or already are subscribed, and
  3. Link to my giveaway on your own blog, leaving another comment with the permalink to you post.
That's it. 3 ways to win and 1 lucky winner. This giveaway will end at midnight on Monday, September 29. Read all contest rules here.

My winner from 2 weeks ago never checked back (see another benefit to subscribing!) So, the new winner of the Circus prize pack is Windy Cindy. I have contacted her via e-mail.

And last weeks winner of the Sara Evans cd is Nessa. I left a comment on her blog letting her know. I hope I hear from both my new winners soon!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday Meditation # 9 - What do I believe?

I found myself floating through Chapter 2 last week without experiencing much conviction. If DeMoss titles the book "Lies Women Believe," then I must believe these lies, right?

Well, maybe. Or maybe not. I know that over the last couple of years, God has been working in me to show me more about his character. He has used articles like this one to help me understand his sovereignty over everything that happens, the good and the evil.

My prayer right now though, is that God will show me if I am being prideful in saying I don't believe these lies. I also wonder, if I were faced with a major catastrophe, would my faith hold up like Joy's? (click over to find a link to Joy's awesome testimony!)
Lie # 1 - God is not really good. If he were, he would... [fill in the blank].
God is either good or he isn't. We can't have it both ways. He is good in the bad times and in the good times. If you didn't click on the link I mentioned earlier, then go read it now. The ministry of John Piper has helped me learn the true side of this lie.

I have a thousand reasons to believe God is good. The Bible is filled with them. My life is filled with them. I observe the lives of people around me and see evidence of God's goodness all the time.
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8.28 (HCSB)
What reasons do you have to believe that God is good? Do you believe that God is good even when you don't get what you want?

We're onto chapter 3 this week. I pray that you are being blessed as you follow along with me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

And the votes are in...

After a few weeks of voting in Amuso's Cutest Baby Contest, Charlotte came in 27th out of more than 200 entries. Thanks to everyone who voted!

And in other news...

Remember how I said recently that Charlotte had learned how to sign daddy? Well, that is true, but now, after watching her, we aren't entirely certain she knows what it means. What I mean is, she will sign daddy when she sees me or her daddy. So, I've spent a lot of time this week working on the sign for mommy and NOT making the sign for daddy, to help her learn the difference.

Charlotte is also starting to understand the signs for "stop" and "kitten". I am trying to use the "thank you" sign with her a lot, but not really to teach her, just so she gets used to hearing that phrase.

In the "things Charlotte is discovering" category, we can add toes back to the list. Of course, when she first found her toes as a little baby we were excited, but now she has taken it to a whole other level!

Make video montages at www.OneTrueMedia.com

In completely random news... Martha Stewart is joining the business of blog critiquing. Just head over to this post to learn more.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Bringing Home Baby

While I am on the treadmill at the gym, I like to watch the TLC show, "Bringing Home Baby." I am delighted to see how much these babies are loved and to see the new moms and dads take care of them.

Sometimes it is funny. And sometimes it frustrates me.

Dads fumbling with trying to put on or remove tiny baby clothes with their big man hands amuse me.

Watching a newborn's head start to flip back because no one is supporting it scares me.

I see mom or dad giving their new baby a bath and then carry the wet baby across the room to get a towel. Of course, the baby is screaming because she is freezing cold and has no other way to communicate her discomfort.

Or mom is trying to breastfeed and when she has difficulties her well-intentioned friends say, "just give him a bottle." The baby doesn't know better and momma's milk never comes in. This frustrates me.

I just wish every new mom had an experienced mom to help her out in the beginning and show her how to do things to make her, the baby, and the rest of the family more comfortable. I was fortunate to find Kellymom.com early on and that made a huge difference in my breastfeeding of Charlotte. I also had access to Lactation Consultants at the hospital where I gave birth. But what about all the other parts of parenting - bathing, feeding, dressing, safety, relating to siblings, taking care of mom?

I was fortunate to find another new resource that, if nothing else, will show moms that they are not alone in their struggles and joys, that they are not that different from other new moms.

NewBaby.com is a pregnancy and parenting website oriented towards sharing advice via video. I can watch these videos and see moms who are just like me. They might not have their hair perfectly smoothed back and for sure they might be a bit frazzled, but they are being honest and sharing their experience with other new moms.

If you haven't already, visit NewBaby.com. Check out the videos on the Wall. You might learn something that helps you, or find advice or an article that is just what a mom around you needs to see.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Unnecessary Tragedy for Formula Fed Babies

Even though I am a stay-at-home-mom, I don't like to be in the dark about what is happening in the world around me. So, every few days I try to skim the headlines of CNN.com or leaf through the pages of our Reason, Newsweek, or World magazine subscriptions. Often, a headline tells me just enough to know their is a major event going on and I try to read anything that looks extra important.

Since I am still nursing Charlotte at 13-months old, and proud of it, when I saw this headline -
Fourth baby dies from tainted formula - I had to click over. What I read made me so sad. Apparently, two brothers decided that their financial situation was more important than the health of the thousands or more babies that would drink the milk they processed.
Investigators said the brothers confessed to watering down the raw milk and mixing in tripolycyanamide, also known as melamine. They said they did it to recover losses suffered when the factory rejected earlier milk shipments, the paper reported.
I am so sad over this unnecessary pain and loss of life. Now, I know we can't protect our children from every ill in this world, and I know this isn't a "China" problem. Evil lurks in the hearts of men all over the world. But golly, if these Chinese moms had been able to practice extended nursing, at least some of this pain and death might have been avoided.

Health experts say ingesting melamine can lead to kidney stones, urinary tract ulcers, and eye and skin irritation. The chemical is commonly used in coatings and laminates, wood adhesives, fabric coatings, ceiling tiles and flame retardants.

AP Image: Parents show babies suffering from kidney stones at a hospital in Lanzhou, Gansu province.

One additional note to prevent anyone from getting scared... From WebMD:
Infant formulas made in China shouldn't be on store shelves, regardless of melamine. The FDA requires all infant formula makers to register with the FDA and to meet certain standards; no Chinese companies have met those requirements.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Playgroup Art

At playgroup yesterday, our friend Lisa and her daughter Ellie, invited us all over to her house to paint! Lisa is so creative and brave, and 8 months pregnant! She had the first art project all laid out for us when we arrived. Sheets of white paper were in large ziploc bags and we let the kids put paint on the sponges before placing the sponges in the bags. Then, Charlotte got to move her sponges around and squish the paint onto the paper.

Ever the teacher, I was the only mom that named and dated their kid's page!

Then, in another brave move... Lisa spread out a large white cloth on her kitchen floor and had all of the kids dunk their feet in a bucket of orange paint. Each of them had fun walking all over the cloth, and maybe the tile a little too. :) Charlotte decided to plant her bottom on the sheet and ended up with a wet, gloppy orange footprint-ish shape on her bottom!

The cloth is going to be used as a decoration for our groups Halloween/Fall Festival party. Oh, and I have started working on Charlotte's costume. Okay then, you got me, I've only bought the supplies... but hey, I gotta start somewhere!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Get Back to the Table

Does your family eat dinner together on a regular basis? Do you sit down together at the table to eat? Are the meals prepared by your family?

I am so glad that I can answer yes, yes, and yes to these questions. But I will admit, that, until this summer, we rarely sat together at the table to eat. For most of our married life actually, Bruce and I sat in the living room and watched TV while we ate dinner. Now that we have Charlotte and don't have as much free time in the evenings, I insist that the three of us eat dinner together, with the TV off.

It has helped me feel more connected to my family, as small as it is, to know that we will have those 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted time together each day. Eating dinner together serves as an anchor for our afternoon and evening plans.

If your family isn't eating together as much as you like, there is even a website to help you - Get Back to the Table. Here, you can find recipes and grocery tips from Libby's. Libby's has teamed up with Sara Evans for the month of September and is even giving away a backstage dinner with Sara to help encourage moms like us.

Oh, and there is even a coupon for canned goods to go along with all those great Libby recipes!

Now for the giveaway. I have 1 copy of Sara Evans' Greatest Hits. It is new, in the package.

I will draw 1 lucky winner next Monday. There are three ways to enter and you can do any of them you like, for up to three entries:
  1. Leave a comment telling me you want to enter,
  2. Subscribe to my RSS feed, and leave a 2nd comment telling me you did so, or already are subscribed, and
  3. Link to my giveaway on your own blog, leaving another comment with the permalink to you post.
That's it. 3 ways to win and 1 lucky winner. This giveaway will end at midnight on Monday, September 22.

The winner of last week's giveaway is Amy Starr. But she didn't leave any contact info so hopefully, Amy, you are a subscriber. Please send me an e-mail through my About Me page so I can get your prize package off to you. If I don't hear from Amy by Thursday afternoon, I will choose a new winner.

Don't miss any of my upcoming giveaways -
Subscribe to Family Musings by Email or Subscribe in a reader

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Meditation #8 - Deception

I will admit right now, I didn't get through all of the lessons last week. I had one left when I went to the women's meeting on Friday morning. But that didn't stop me from going. I squashed the perfectionist in me and went anyway, knowing I would be blessed by the fellowship of so many godly women (there are around 15 who have committed to attend weekly).

And I was right. Each of these women has a story behind her face and some have years of studying the scriptures to share with me. I am so grateful that we found Random Baptist Church in time for me to join this study.

Our first week of study focused on "laying the foundation" of Truth. We have to recognize that truth must be absolute. The world doesn't work right when we all have individual truths. In fact, that is an oxymoron. Demoss writes,
"A fatal flaw that is embraced by our culture is to spurn the notion of absolute truth and so leave every issue in life open for negotiation."
I was reminded through reading various passages that Satan tries to put us against one another (John 8:44), to cover up the light around us and draw us into his darkness (2 Corinthians 4:4), he tries to disguise himself in beautiful things to deceive us (2 Corinthians 11:14), and that Satan will take anyone and is always looking for his next victim (1 Peter 5:8).

We are all in bondage to sin, even if we don't know it. That is how deceptive Satan's lies are. But the truth counters the lies of Satan. God speaks the truth and is reliable (Psalm 33.4). God desires us to have integrity and helps us acquire it (Psalm 51.6). The Truth can release us from sinful behavior (John 8.32).

There is hope for escaping Satan's lies. When we invite Jesus to live in our hearts and rule over our lives, he gives us the Holy Spirit to help us battle Satan (John 14.15-17, 16.13). We are not expected to be a lone warrior. We should make sure we are daily reading the scriptures and that we are spending time with other people who desire the same things.

This coming week, we will read chapter 2 in Lies Women Believe and complete the same chapter in the companion guide, if you have it. I strongly recommend you get yourself a copy. It is really helping me see the biblical basis for what Demoss shares.

"Describe some lies that are widely accepted as truth by our society. In what way do these lie influence people's choices and in what ways are thy destructive to people's lives?" (pg 21) Leave a comment sharing your thoughts, or a link to your own blog post answering this question.

Image courtesy of AllPosters.com.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Saturday Stories

Charlotte sure was grumpy this week! She wouldn't stay down for her naps, she woke up at night more than usual, and she got extra cranky between 4 -5 pm.

I have no idea what was going on. She isn't teething. The nursing is about the same. No new skills to report. Hopefully I will get my super-happy toddler back soon.

At the library story time this week she got a little braver and mixed it up some with the bigger toddlers. My girl loves music and she likes to dance. The song time that Ms. Connie leads is always fun and I am actually starting to learn the lyrics. Though I will spare you the agony of having to listen to me sing. (Let's just say it is unlikely Charlotte will grow up to be an opera star with me as her example!)

I have another big announcement to share as well. I signed up to be a Pampered Chef consultant - again! I did this once, about 8 years ago and really enjoyed it. As it turns out, my former Director is back in business and invited me to join her. I don't have a website yet, but if you have any interest in the Pampered Chef at all, let me know. It is an awesome company to work for and their products are fabulous!

Sorry this was late... my husband took me to the Weekend to Remember and I forgot to schedul this post! (More on the weekend later this week.)

Friday, September 12, 2008

To Twitter or Not to Twitter

That is the question of the week.

Is it time for me to take the plunge and share all sorts of fun details about my day with the rest of the world?

Do other people care that I just finished drinking 100 ounces of water today? Or that I just changed yet another dirty diaper? What about the new vlog I posted at NewBaby?

According to my stats, there are ~46 people who are subscribe to this blog. That means that at least 46 people will either read this post in e-mail or in their feed reader. (Or just delete it without a second thought.)

Would those of you among the 46, and any others that might be lurking here, please give me your opinion on Twitter? What about those of you visiting from Blog Coach today? In addition to providing some constructive feedback, would you share your thoughts about Twitter in the comments?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Last Weekend

I vaguely remembering promising to come back and post pictures last Saturday. Seeing as I never got around to it, my lovely sister-in-law Michelle, e-mailed me some pictures from her camera for me to share with you.

Michelle and my brother Nick have 2 cats - Lucy and Tyler. Last weekend was the first chance we had to meet Tyler and Charlotte immediately felt comfortable around him - so comfortable that she decided to climb into his house.

She actually seems rather content here, doesn't she?

And she certainly seems content here, sitting in Nick's chair as if it were her own.

The best part of this visit, cat-wise at least, was seeing that Charlotte knows how to play with Lucy. Charlotte loved waving this fishing pole around for Lucy to bat at. Charlotte also learned Lucy's name and would try to find the cat whenever we asked about her.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Best Part of My Day

My New Job

I've mentioned it once or twice, but I thought that an official announcement was in order. I am now a vlogger for NewBaby.com. Of the hundreds of applications they received, I was one of 15 bloggers chosen to help new moms out with my own unique perspective.

I have several ideas of my own about how I want to use this unique blogging platform, but would love to hear from you. What questions did you have as a new mom? As a stay at home mom? What advice do you wish someone had given you to make life easier?

Here is my first vlog for NewBaby.com:

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Family Traditions - The Circus

This giveaway is now closed. The winner is Amy Starr WindyCindy.

I remember our family going to the circus when I was a little girl. In fact, I remember going more than once, which must have made it a family tradition.

And one year, don't ask me how I got to be so lucky, but I was chosen to be the princess of the circus. It made me feel so special. There is nothing quite like riding around the 3 rings in a horse-drawn cart while everyone waves at you and takes your picture. My mom says I haven't been the same since. :)

The last time I went to the circus though, was in the 6th grade (not the year I was a princess). I am hoping my daughter doesn't get one of those irrational fears of clowns so we can take her in a few more years.

Well, it's circus time again and I have a 3-ring giveaway for you!
  • A Ringling Brothers Program Book (you know, the expensive one your parents never let you buy!),
  • A commemorative DVD, and
  • Clown noses for your entire family! (assuming you have 7 or fewer family members)
I will draw 1 lucky winner next Monday. There are three ways to enter and you can do any of them you like, for up to three entries:
  1. Leave a comment telling me you want to enter,
  2. Leave a separate comment telling me you subscribed to my RSS feed, or already are subscribed, and
  3. Leave a separate comment with the permalink to my giveaway on your own blog.
That's it. 3 ways to win and 1 lucky winner. This giveaway will end at midnight on Monday, September 15. Contest rules posted here.

Also, if you happen to live in any of the cities below, you can use special code Ringling Brothers Circus coupon code MCC for 20% the cost of your tickets. The code is valid for the circus shows in the following cities:
  • Indianapolis, IN - Sept. 4-7, 2008
  • Boston, MA - Oct 8-13, 2008
  • Kansas City, MO - Sept. 10-14, 2008 & St. Louis, MO - Nov. 6-9, 2008
  • Grand Rapids, MI - Sept. 18-21, 2008 & Auburn Hills, MI - Nov. 12 - 16, 2008
  • Denver, CO - Oct. 2-13, 2008
  • Cleveland, OH - Oct. 24 - Nov. 2 & Cincinnati, OH - Mar. 4 - 8, 2008
  • Chicago, IL - Nov. 6 - 30, 2008
  • Highland Heights, KY - Feb 27 - Mar. 1, 2009
Also, why not try to win some cute shoes from Andrea at Momma in FlipFlops2!

Don't miss any of my upcoming giveaways -
Subscribe to Family Musings by Email or Subscribe in a reader

Monday, September 08, 2008

Monday Meditation #7 - Lies Women Believe

Here it is... week 1 of our meditations on Lies Women Believe. I had my first meeting with the women's Bible study on Friday and will start my homework tomorrow morning (we went out of town this past weekend).

During the first meeting, a wonderful woman named Pat, introduced us to both the book and the companion guide. I am excited to read this, but have to be honest, I don't have anything to meditate on yet because I haven't got started.

I'll try to post something a little later today once I've done the first days homework!

If you have read this book before, would you share what you learned?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Saturday Stories

Charlotte continues to surprise me. Surprised? You shouldn't be... she is always doing something new.

This week, she mastered how to sign "daddy." Bruce and I took 1 day and just kept repeating it to her over and over again, in context of course. Sometimes, she will still point her index finger to her forehead, but with a reminder will use her thumb. Of course, I tried to catch it on video, but once the camera came out, it was difficult for her to focus.

She has also taken a liking to spinning and rolling. I know, rolling over is something she mastered several months ago... but this is different. Now, she is rolling like a gymnast, for fun. I think it is a precursor to somersaults. Maybe I need to get us back to that gymnastics studio.

The spinning is fun to watch. Especially when she does it while holding Dolly or Tigger.

Charlotte tried a new food this week - cottage cheese. And Erica, she didn't like it. But I tried it and it wasn't nearly as awful as I expected it to be. I'll continue to offer it to her and we'll see where it ends up on the list of foods she will eat.

I have been extra busy working on a new project so haven't uploaded pictures. Maybe I'll get a chance this weekend... look for another post later on.

What are your plans for this weekend?

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Color of Our Character

It still happens. Skin color still matters to some people. In the town I used to teach in, there was an unwritten rule that if a white girl had ever dated a black boy, then she was off limits to all of the white boys. I as appalled when a fellow teacher shared this with me. I knew I was in a rural town, but couldn't believe that people really thought this was acceptable behavior.
You can learn a lot from a box of crayons. Some are sharp, pretty, and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors but they all have to live in the same box.When I was a teacher, I had that quote on my wall. I don't remember where I first saw it, but I discussed it on the first day of class each year. When I turned away, the kids would laugh about who the "dull" crayons were and, always, one of the more extroverted girls would claim they were the "pretty" crayon.

I gave them a minute to get that silliness out of their systems and then re-read the quote to them. I explained that no matter which kind of crayon they were, the bright yellow crayon that was always a good friend, or the black crayon that liked to wear dark clothes and had lots of piercings, the red crayon that stood out among the crowd, or that particular shade of green called "mountain meadow" that was free of worries and didn't care what their peers thought, we all had to live and work together in the same box - my classroom.

Choose your friends by their character and your socks by their color. Because choosing our socks by their character doesn't make any sense.I also had this sign posted in my classroom. It got a lot of snickers as the kids tried to figure out what it meant. We lived in a very small town (approximate population 3,000) but still had a significant minority population in our school due to busing and local migrant farming. It was important to me, while my students were still in middle school, to make it clear that they should be friends with someone because of who that person is, not the color of their skin.

Did I change my student's world view? Did I suddenly flip switches in their brain and reprogram them to accept all of their peers? Probably not. But my students saw these two posters in the front of my room everyday and you can't read anything that often without a bit of it sinking in.

Submitted to Scribbit's September Write-Away contest.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Favorite Toddler Books, Currently

Since we live so close to Lakeland, Charlotte and I have started spending a lot of time at the local library. I have found that Charlotte definitely has a preference for some books over others. Here are her, and my, current favorites.
  1. Snuggle Puppy Sandra Boynton - This book is a lot of fun to read. It became even more fun when I found a snippet of the song this book belongs too!
  2. You and Me, Baby by Lynn Reiser and Penny Gentieu - I love the cadence of this book. The words flow off the tongue and the bright pictures invite Charlotte to interact with the words.
  3. Little Monster's Book of Numbers by Frances Thomas and Ross Collins - The main character is so ugly, he is cute. In the first counting book on my list, we go from 10 to 1 using interesting rhyme and bright illustrations.
  4. Let's Be Honest by P.K. Hallinan - It is never too early to start helping our children build character. She might not understand everything I read from this book, but it is all going somewhere in her brain for me to build on in the coming months.
  5. A to Z by Sandra Boynton - Yep, another Boynton book. Another mom at the library recommended her to us and I have to second that recommendation. In this book, she simply goes through the alphabet by describing animals in alliterative ways, like "iguanas itching," and "vicuna violining."
  6. Sunshine On My Shoulder by John Denver, Illustrated by Christopher Canyon - I choose this book based purely on the illustrations. They are rich and light at the same time. I just want to jump into the scene every time I turn the page. You can listen to the song here if this song is before your time.
  7. Snuggle Wuggle by Johnathan London - A nursery "lesson plan" site suggested this book and after reading it I am so glad. With Charlotte's current obsession with hugs, this book, which describes the way all sorts of animals hug, is perfect!
  8. A Children's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson - One of my favorite childhood poems is in this book, "My Shadow." The artwork that accompanies each poem is classic and simple. These verses made a couple of other board books we checked out seem lifeless and pathetic.
  9. 1 is One by Tasha Tudor (abridged, board book version)- This counting book is delightful in its illustrations and simple verse. Each page, alternating between full color and black and white, is bordered with delicate flowers. I enjoy looking at the images over and over again.
  10. Beach, an Usborne look and say - What I enjoyed about this book is the tabs on the edges of the page. Charlotte loves to turn the pages herself, often faster than I can get the page pulled up for her tiny fingers. Plus, the illustrations are actually photos of clay models and that is a nice change from the drawings in most children's books.
  11. P. Bear's New Year's Party by Paul Owen Lewis - Another counting book. This one uses a clock to show us the numbers. We aren't ready for time telling lessons just yet, but I like the ability to show Charlotte numbers in different patterns. The words are simple... P. Bear is letting his guests in, one type at a time, "1 whale, 2 horses, 3 dairy cows," etc...
  12. Hug, Hug, Hug by Emily Jenkins and Tomek Bogacki - This is a Bea and HaHa book that I don't really understand. But I get to say the word hug three times on each page. And since Charlotte loves to sign her word for hug and give hugs, I like this book by default!
  13. Annie and the Wild Animals by Jan Brett - Brett does double duty on this one, taking credit for both the story and the illustrations. They are rich, inviting, and beautiful. The story was a little long for Charlotte, but there were enough things for her to look at on each page that we made it through this one several times.
What is your favorite book for toddlers? Would you suggest something for me to add to our library list?

Submitted to Thursday Thirteen.

The winner of last week's Yoplait Kids giveaway is Seesawstar @ My Precious Pennies.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Cabbage Patch Memories

When I was 5 years old, the toy industry drove parents crazy with the introduction of the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls. This year, the Kids turn 25 years old. It is amazing how cute they still are too. I don't think I looked so young at 25 myself.

Now, my mom and I remember my history with Cabbage Patch Kids differently. I remember not getting one until I was in the 5th or 6th grade and it was a Cabbage Patch pet - some ugly dog-like thing that I don't remember ever getting attached too.

My mom however, says I did get a Cabbage Patch Doll when I was 5, but that it arrived just before I started dance classes and was quickly forgotten. I can't say if she was right or wrong though, because I only remember the dance classes. (Wasn't I cute? I can share more of my dancing pictures if you want me too!)

Since I didn't have a great memory, I asked a young friend of mine, Stephanie, to share what she remembered about the Cabbage Patch Dolls. Here is what she had to say:

I still have my Cabbage Patch doll, and I also have a Cornsilk doll. The Cornsilk dolls are exactly like the Cabbage Patch dolls, but their hair is silky like ours. The regular Cabbage Patch dolls have hair made out of yarn. I haven't hade them long, but I do remember what the Cabbage Patch hospital was like. It looks very small on the outside of the building, but the inside looks huge! There are several rooms. the rooms are set up in different themes, and in each rooms there are very big Cabbage Patch dolls dressed and set up to look like they are part of the scene. You can take a Cabbage Patch dolls from the room to buy. One of the rooms is a nursery room, where the baby Cabbage Patch dolls are. At the end, there is a store with Cabbage Patch clothing, and you can buy pre-packedged dolls. Hmm... I think that's about it!

In honor of the Cabbage Patch Dolls 25th birthday, Anniversary Cabbage Patch Kids will be hitting store shelves for a limited time only. This is the first time they’ve been at retail since their debut in 1983. And guess what? Each and every Cabbage Patch Kid is a one-of-a-kind replica of an original ’83 doll, made with the same sculpts/molds and materials.

I received a doll in advance so that I could ponder its cuteness for you and well, let me tell you, if I could bottle up my own daughter's cuteness and paint it onto a doll, we would have our very own Geneva Emily, born on April 8th with her very own silver spoon.

There is even a website to help us celebrate the Kids 25th anniversary. You can read about and share your own memories of Cabbage Patch Dolls as well as play some fun game to introduce your own little boy or girl to these dolls. Or you can watch videos of the Dolls, like this Junkyard Gang or this Trust Us song (my fav so far!).

While Charlotte is too young to play with her doll now, you can be sure she will be getting this doll soon enough and I'll take lots of pictures of her with it so that she doesn't have to challenge this mom's memory about her childhood toys!

Do you have any Cabbage Patch Kid memories? What are they? Do you still have your doll?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Monday Meditation - Week 6

After a busy, food-filled weekend, I have another verse about our bodies.
Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Romans 12.1 (HCSB)
How can my body to pleasing to God? It has a lot of extra fat, my heart and lungs aren't as efficient as they were designed to be, and it partakes of lots of unholy eating. All in all, I don't think it is pleasing to God the way it is. Sure, I can still, in faith, do things with my body that please God, like make a meal for a sick friend or rock my baby gently to sleep. But I should do more. I should treat my body as the temple God created it to be. First Corinthians 6.19-20 says:
Do you not know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body. (HCSB)
Would I go into a church and smear trash all over its walls? Would I pour soda all into the seats and carpeting? Of course not. So, why would I ingest foods that clog my arteries and raise my blood pressure? God lives in me and I should want a temple for him that is pleasing to him and demonstrates my trust in him.

Also, we shouldn't try to do this alone. As my husband pointed out to me, Paul said "present your bodies as a living sacrifice." The your means he was talking to a group of people and the a means he we should present a single sacrifice. We are to corporately present our bodies to God. If you struggle like me, then find other Christians to walk along side you to help you with your struggle. Or walk along side me... I need help too!

What is your spiritual worship? After reading the last part of Romans 12.1, I thought, oh no, have I been worshiping wrong? Has my worship not been spiritual enough? Then, I went to my handy-dandy footnotes and read that the phrase spiritual worship in this verse can also be translated as reasonable worship or rational service.

That made me feel a little better. So, I don't have to be an Olympian or look like a model in order for my body to be a pleasing sacrifice to God. Those two things are not reasonable for my lifestyle or body type - they would be unreasonable and irrational.

In conclusion, this week I am going to strive to treat my body more like a temple. I will not eat because I am bored or because the food is free.I will exercise more and I will fuel my body with foods that are beneficial to me in a nutritional way. I will present my body as a "living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God."

What about you? What is on your heart this week? I invite you to either write your own post and link to it in the comments, or just leave your thoughts below.

Also, I'll be beginning a study of Lies Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free this week and would love to have some of my blogging buddies join me. I will be using this study as a focus for my Monday Meditations and it would be fun to have some online friends contribute as well. If you are interested, leave me a note in the comments and get yourself a copy of the book and workbook. My real-life study starts Friday, September 5th and I'll have my first post up on Monday, September 8th.