A Worthy Cause

I have a list of blog topics that help inspire post ideas. There are several blog post ideas that I want to write about but the topics are not topics I am prepared to write about right now. As I reviewed my list of topics, I came across “write about a worthy cause or charity” and decided this is the perfect time for this post.

The worthy cause/charity I am writing about is Autism Speaks in honor of my nephew. My nephew was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder when he was very little. Tomorrow he celebrates his 19th birthday! It has been 15+ years since his diagnosis and we have hoped for a cure or treatment plan for his disorder since that time. No cure has been found at this time but there has been a lot of progress. Progress that may not have happened as quick without the Autism Speaks Foundation.

My family is a supporter of the Autism Speaks Foundation which raises money to find a cure for Autism Spectrum Disorder. They also are an advocacy for children and adults with Autism. Autism Speaks started ten years ago and is currently the world’s leading organization in Autism science and advocacy. 

Each October my family comes together to walk in the Houston Autism Walk in honor of my nephew. Although, they have not found a cure for Autism, they have come so far in the techniques for working with children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

My nephew’s diagnosis with Autism sparked an interest for me in Special Education. I loved watching him grow and how he learned the things that we take for granted. It made me want to work with other children with disabilities. 
In honor of my nephew and anyone who has Autism Spectrum Disorder, I am adding an affiliate program to my page. Products purchased from the online shop go towards the research foundation. In additon all commissions made from purchases through my page link, will also go to the research foundation at Autism Speaks. Come back soon to see the link to Autism Speaks Organization. 

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Quick Post: Go Western Day

This past Thursday was Go Western day at Mother’s Day Out. I always loved wearing my western wear to school. To prepare for it we ordered the girls so cute brown boots, their first cowboy boots.

The girls are in LOVE with their boots. They walk around saying, “Look Mommy, just like Daddy.” Joel wears boots every day. They are absolutely precious in their western wear. So cute that I had to share with a quick post.

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Book Challenge # 5 : Short Story

For this book challenge topic I chose Where There’s Smoke by Jodi Picoult. Amazon’s description on this book states,
Even as a child, Serenity Jones knew she possessed unusual psychic gifts. Now, decades later, she’s an acclaimed medium and host of her own widely viewed TV show, where she delivers messages to the living from loved ones who have passed. Lately, though, her efforts to boost ratings and garner fame have compromised her clairvoyant instincts. When Serenity books a young war widow to appear as a guest, the episode quickly unravels, stirring up a troubling controversy. And as she tries to undo the damage—to both her reputation and her show—Serenity finds that pride comes at a high price.

You can see the full version at Amazon.com.

I have to make a confession; I did not fully read this book description before I downloaded the book to my kindle app. After I began reading, I was skeptical on whether or not I would finish the book. I do not have any interest in mediums or talk shows so I had to force myself to continue reading. The story is very choppy but it does set the tone for the main characters lifestyle. Her life comes in choppy phases so the sections match that. Jodi Picoult does a wonderful job describing the character and pulling the reader into the story. But the story ends abruptly. You have no idea what is going to happen to the characters. It makes the reader desire a future book that continues this story.
   

I gave this story a 3 out of 5 stars. Personally it was not the right choice for me and it left me unclear of what happened. I do think that other readers would enjoy this book which is why I am recommending it as a quick read, if this type of story interests you. You can purchase this short story here at Amazon.com

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What’s Cooking Tonight? : Spinach Lasagna Rolls

This week’s feature meal is Spinach Lasagna Rolls. This is a family favorite and a healthy meal choice. The original recipe was found at Kraft Recipes: Spinach Lasagna Rolls.

Here is my modified recipe.

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Non-Candy Easter Ideas

As a child, I remember being so excited for the Easter bunny and the basket of goodies. Of course the basket had candy, candy, and more candy. With all the candy and sweets from other holidays, we don’t want more sweets for the girls.

I have created a list of toddler appropriate non-candy basket ideas.

 

·         Activity books
·         Balls
·         Barrettes or Hair accessories
·         Bath toys
·         Bath tub crayons
·         Bubbles
·         Crayons
·         Coloring book
·         Pretend jewelry
·         Fruit snacks
·         DVDs
·         Stickers
·         Puzzles
·         Play-dough

 Raisins

·         Pretzels
·         Sunglasses
·         Sun Hat
·         Stuffed animals
·         Teddy grahams
·         Easter books
·         Bunny ears
·         Cars/trucks
·         Doll accessories
·         Dress up accessories
·         Umbrella
·         Sidewalk chalk
·         Sun bucket and shovel
·         Legos

 

·         Squirt guns
   You could also do a themed basket. Here are some ideas of themes for Easter baskets.
      Beach theme
      Lego Theme
      Disney theme
      Doll theme
      Summer theme
      Princess theme
      Sports theme
      Dress up theme

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Road Trips With Toddlers

Toddlers and Travel…not always the best combination. I know that it is difficult but there are ways to survive it. We travel several times a year for 6-8 hours at a time in the car. I have looked up several things to do on the road to keep them happy.

Toys

Have lots and lots of toys. I recommend having toys they haven’t played with in a while. A lot of times I will “hide” some of their favorite items so that they are exciting and fresh for road trips. We carry Mrs. Potato Head, Etch-a-sketch, play-dough, baby dolls, puzzles, etc…

Activities

I also pack a variety of activities for them. We include coloring books, crayons, sticker books, matching games, markers (the ones that only color on paper), books, and more.

Snacks

Pack a lot of small snacks. Snacking is a good way to pass the time during the road trips. We usually pack healthy snacks. We like applesauce squeeze pouches, fruit snacks, yogurt melts, sliced fruit, and animal crackers. We prefer things that will dissolve in their mouths that way there is a smaller chance of choking.

Electronics

We also pack some electronics. We have their leap pads, leap reader juniors, and portable DVD players. We pack multiple movies and shows for the road. I recommend looking at the show length for ones that last around 2 hours. This keeps you from having to change it as often. Don’t forget the chargers.

Stops

When traveling with toddlers you have to make frequent stops to allow them time to get out and to allow them time to get out and stretch. Before the girls were potty trained we would stop every 3 hours for about 20-30 minutes. We would have picnics at rest areas. A few rest areas have playgrounds so we stop at those.

Now that they are potty trained we stop every hour for a potty break. We carry their training potties and seat adapter. There are times that restrooms are unavailable at needed times so the training potties are useful.

Supplies

It is important to carry supplies with you on the road. You will want to have a first aid kit. We carry baby wipes and Lysol wipes in the car. Sine they are potty trained we have puddle seats for those accidents to protect their car seats. Extra clothes are always important.

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Spring Break Recap

How did the Spring Break activities go? Well here is a break down of each day and how it went.

Day 1: Under The Sea

The girls loved all of the ocean animal movements. They loved being able to act silly with me. Their favorite part was king their toilet roll octopuses. I used finger paint to let them paint the roll. It was so messy but they had a blast.

 

Day 2: Garden Day

We planted their seeds in their flower pots in the morning. As soon as we did Bailey said “Hey birdies, come eat your food.” I had to explain again about the flower seeds and that they were not bird seed. Their favorite part of the day was to dress up in their lady bug and bumble bee costumes. They did not want to take them off.

Day 3: On The Farm

The girls loved all of the activities on this day. We acted like farm animals together. It was really fun being silly and Brooke really got into the movements. Their favorite part of the day was the farm animal masks. They wore them for several hours, running around making the noises of that particular animal. Brooke loved being the cow and Bailey’s favorite was the sheep.

This was the first warm day we have had in a while so we could actually go out and play. It was 70 degrees and absolutely beautiful. That was probably the best part of the day for me.

Day 4: Beach Day

I laid out the girls beach towels and put out sunglasses and sunhats for them to wear. They loved laying around on the beach towels looking at books. While they had their sunhats on, they pushed their baby dolls in their strollers pretending to go for a walk.

This day was also warm and beautiful so we spent some time outside playing in the sandbox and blowing bubbles. Even our little dog loves bubbles, she chases them with the girls.

Day 5: Picnics

We started our morning with a picnic blanket and a breakfast picnic in the playroom. Then we pretended to pack picnic baskets for a pretend picnic. Bailey insisted on wearing her crown on our pretend picnic. 🙂 Around 10:30 we got ready and went to a nearby park to play on the playground and having a picnic. Joel met us there with lunch. The girls were so excited to have him come eat lunch with us. The girls played for a little while there and did not want to get in the car when it was time to leave. Brooke was very upset that Joel was going back to work and was not going to stay with us. This added a nice temper tantrum to our day.

Day 6: Rainbows

The girls helped me clean the house and run errands during the morning so we didn’t get to start the rainbow fun until the afternoon. We made rainbows with finger paint and construction paper. I surprised them with chocolate chip cookies with rainbow sprinkles. They had so much fun between finger painting and cookies.

It has been such a beautiful week and this day was no different so we had to spend some time outside. I had the girls color with sidewalk chalk and we searched for objects of that color.

Day 7: Birds

The birds day was a lot of fun. We fed the birds in our backyard. We weren’t able to build bird houses because they did not come in on time. We did pretend to be birds and played outside in the backyard. We watched the birds fly in and out of the yard, and Maggie chase them away.

Day 8: Weather

We read a lot of books about weather. We went outside and looked at the clouds and the blue sky. The girls were more interested in the planes and birds than the weather. We also had fun with homemade popsicles outside.

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Road Trips Down Memory Lane

As we enter the season of road trips I am reminded of road trips that I made with my parents as a child. The most memorable road trip was our long drive to Indiana to get my step-sister one summer. She would come to stay with us for a month or two during her summer vacation. Usually she flew but this year my parents wanted to take a road trip and visit some places along the way.

This was a time when it was recommended that you wore a seat belt in the back, but not as enforced as now. My parents had a suburban that they would lay down the middle row seats. We would sleep or play car games in the middle area. I remember having several travel games for our road trips. These games included car bingo, don’t wake daddy, travel sorry, and more.

The drive to Indiana took us 3-4 days, maybe less but it seemed like a long time, each way. We would stay in KOA cabins. My mom chose these cabins because they had parks and activities that we could play outside when we would stop. We stopped at the Mammoth cave and took that tour through the cave.

Vacation road trips were very different from now. Now you have to stay in your seat belt. As a parent, I am constantly looking for a safe place to stop and let the girls move around. There are more travel gadgets and electronics for the car. My girls have portable DVD players and tablets that they can use while we drive to keep them entertained. I’m sure my parents would have loved to let us watch movies while we drove to keep us quiet for hours.

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Book Challenge #4: Budget/Financial

Budget/Financial: The Minimalist Budget by Simeon Lindstrom

 I chose The Minimalist Budget by Simeon Lindstrom because I am always looking for a way to save money and the reviews seemed good. I was still a bit apprehensive when I chose this book because I was afraid of the book telling me to extremely cut things out of my budget. To my surprise this book is nothing like that.

The first few chapters are about your needs and values in life and your budget. The author asks questions and gives examples to help the reader decide and think about your budget.

As the book continues, the author discusses ways to start trimming your budget. He challenges the reader to look at expenses in food, clothing, health, home and cleaning, children, debt and finances, etc… He tells you to prioritize your expenses.

The book shares people’s stories and how they overcome them. This was helpful because it gives you something to relate to. The last few chapters help the reader take the steps into minimizing their budget.

I am glad I read this book. It made me start prioritizing my expenses. I’m hoping to have my budget altered over the next few months.

I would recommend this book to anyone trying to cut their budget. I have included a direct link to Amazon for purchase above and here: The Minimalist Budget.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Stay tuned for my next book challenge review of the short story, Where There’s Smoke by Jodi Picoult. 

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St. Patrick’s Day For Toddlers

St. Patrick’s Day is next week. The girls will be at Mother’s Day Out most of the day but I want to have some activities for before and after. I plan to start the fun as they wake up in the morning. I will have shamrock shaped pancakes for breakfast. Here is my inspiration.

 

We will have a snack of puppy chow. I found the original recipe here at No Biggie. See my post with the altered recipe on St. Patrick’s Day Puppy Chow.
The first activity for after Mother’s Day Out will be Shamrock paint. With green finger paint, I will coat the girls hands in green paint and help them print 4 leaves.

 

The second activity will be creating rainbows. I will tape two sets of 3 crayons together: red, orange, and yellow, then green, blue, and purple.

 

 

The final activity will be creating leprechaun hats.

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