Saturday, June 13, 2009

Slice of Life Friday

Fridays I'll fill you in on what we've been up to over the last week (or longer). As you may have noticed, the last 2 entries have been a day late. That's because the past few weeks have been really crazy around here. Here's just a little of what we've been up to (at least the stuff I took pictures of):

1. Lexie lost tooth #3 (she was playing dress-up with her cousin)

2. We brought the class pet (a guina pig named Cookie Dough) home for a weekend

3. Lexie got to play catcher again - her favorite position

4. Lexie and I visited a bunch of garage sales. Here are my great finds (After getting rid of the iron, I plan on painting the bench black - it cost me $2!!!)...

and Lexie's purchases (all made with about $9 in change Daddy gave her)...

5. Lexie learned how to ride a bike without training wheels and got a new bike. (Yes, it's the one she wanted. Was there ever any doubt we'd get it? Target only had one and it was kindof dirty so when we went to check out I asked the girl if we could get a discount because of that and she gave us 10% off! It's always good to ask.)

6. Lexie's class went on a field trip this past Wednesday to a place that had bounce houses and put-put golf. She actually got a hole in one on the 4th hole!!!

Wednesday night we went to Lexie's end of the year program then on Thursday we went to her 2nd to last T-ball game. Then yesterday (Friday) was Lexie's last day of school (I was there most of the day). They walked to the park around 11am, played, ate lunch, played more, ate ice cream, played even more and finally headed back to school after 2pm. At 5pm that night we went to Lexie's teacher's house for a pizza party. It was such a nice way to end the school year but Lexie and I were REALLY tired by the time we got home. (Dave didn't go because he went to game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Unfortunately, the Red Wings lost but it was still a cool experience just to be there.)

So now school's out and we have 2 1/2 months to relax, have fun outside and just enjoy being together. I'm definately ready for summer vacation, especially after the busy week we've had. The thing I'm looking forward to most is sleeping in! Yeah!!! (Did I mention I resigned from my job at the library? My position had a "set schedule" and with Lexie on vacation I couldn't work those same hours. I'm hoping to reapply in the Fall.)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Review Time Thursday

On Thursdays I'll review a book or movie that I liked (and maybe even warn you about a few I didn't like). Since it's summertime and the kids are home wanting stuff to do I thought I'd dedicate today to kids' books. As you know Lexie is 6 1/2 (actually it's more like 6 3/4). She LOVES to read and began reading on her own when she was 4. She's read so many differnt kinds of books over the years but this year she's really gotten into chapter books and series. She likes the same ones most little girls her age are into like American Girls, Rainbow Fairies, Junie B. Jones, Judy Moody, and Hannah Montana. However, she has a few other favorites that you might not have heard of.

Araminta Spookie Books by Angie Sage
There are 5 books in total and they are suggested for children grades 2-4. The School Library Journal published this review: "Araminta Spookie lives in a sprawling haunted house. She spends her days hunting for ghosts, avoiding her cranky Aunt Tabby, and helping her nocturnal Uncle Drac. In the first book, her aunt wants to sell the house and the little girl does all she can to scare away potential buyers. Things turn out better than expected when the ghost-loving Wizzard family shows interest but decides instead to move in with the Spookies. In the second book, Araminta and the Wizzards' daughter find themselves in danger when they try to retrieve a sword from a cave for the house ghost's 500th birthday... Kids who use "weird" as a compliment will delight in the charming details of Araminta's life. Trapdoors and secret passageways get her into forbidden places. Frogs, bats, and ghosts are part of the family..." Amelia Jenkins, Juneau Public Library, AK (Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.)

The Frog Princess books by E.D. Baker

There are six books in the series and they're suggested for children grades 4-6. Here's a review by the School Library Journal: "In E.D. Baker's twist on the classic fairy tale (Bloomsbury, 2002), Princess Emeralda has quite an adventure when she kisses a prince-turned-frog and everything goes terribly awry. The book follows her exciting quest, along with the frog prince Eadric, to transform themselves back into their human selves. The text itself is weak, with poor story logic, many fruitless tangents, and excessive detail. However, the dialogue between the perky princess, her valiant but foolish prince, and some of the other odd characters they encounter is often genuinely funny...This romantic comedy and non-violent adventure would appeal to youngsters fond of twisted fairy tales, but some of the jokes and sophisticated vocabulary will be beyond the intended audience." by Jenna Innes, Edmonton Public Library, Alberta, Canada (Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.)

The Sisters Grimm books by Michael Buckley

There are 7 books in the series which is suggested from readers Grade 4 to 6. Here's the review from Booklist: "After their parents disappear, sisters Daphne and Sabrina Grimm are placed with a grandmother they have never heard about. Sabrina, the eldest, is highly suspicious; why didn't their parents mention Granny Relda? She grows more concerned once they arrive at Relda's home in the New England town of Ferryport Landing, where Relda serves emerald-green meatballs in rooms lined with books about magic. Then Relda reveals the truth: the Grimms are descended from the famous storytelling brothers, and Ferryport Landing is a magical town, populated with "Everafters," characters straight from fairy tales. After Relda goes missing, it's up to the girls, and their new magical friends, to rescue her and stop a corrupt politician--a well-cast Prince Charming. Buckley's debut novel gets bogged down in labored world building and sometimes stilted prose, but the wild parade of magical folk in the gleefully fractured fairy tales (Snow White teaches school; the Three Little Pigs are policemen) may draw some fans." by Gillian Engberg (Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.)

Some of the reviews weren't that glowing, however, I can tell you that Lexie absolutely LOVES all three of these series. Since she's a kid, and I assume the reviewers aren't, I'd encourage you to try these books out. I hope the kids in your life enjoy them as much as Lexie does!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Family Life Wednesday

Wednesdays are all about "family life" - I'll probably write about things like parenting, our adoption journey, marriage and my faith. Today I thought I'd share a recent strategy we've been using for discipline.

You may have noticed the recent additions to my reading list - Kid Cooperation, The No-Cry Discipline Solution and She's Gonna Blow! (That last one was for me.) I suddenly found myself dealing with a teenage attitude from my 6 1/2 year old and I didn't know how to handle it. Everything was suddenly "I don't care" and "I don't have to" and "So what." Then there was the yelling and the hitting and the kicking. Lexie became this little monster (not like herself) and I didn't know what to do. (Dave has been traveling a lot lately so I think that may have contributed to the behavior but it's still no excuse.)

Of course I never really had time to read the books but what I did read at least gave me comfort knowing that I wasn't alone. (I'll have you know, I took a quiz in one of the books to see what kind of parent I am. Turns out I'm a "Balanced Parent," the book even said "why are you reading this book?" That made me feel a whole lot better.) The books also reminded me of the importance of being consistent, something Dave and I always try to do but it's much harder when there is only one of us around.

Lexie has always done better with positive reenforcement than with punishing bad behavior. When we reward the good things she does she wants to do them more and I think she focuses more on being good. However, if we yell or take something away, it's like a downward spiral and the behavior stays the same or may even get worse.

With this in mind, I created a REWARD CHART for Lexie.
This is something we started a couple of years ago when we wanted Lexie to start helping around the house more - make her bed, clear her dishes, keep her room clean, etc. I updated the form and started using it about 3 weeks ago and it's already worked wonders. She doesn't get second chances, if she yells once, she doesn't get a sticker on that square; if she doesn't make her bed in the morning, she doesn't get a sticker; if she yells at me, she doesn't get a sticker. It works so well, I wish I'd started using it sooner. Now don't get me wrong, I'm NOT saying Lexie's behavior has totally changed. (Just check out the first 3 behaviors - we've still got some work to do!) However, she knows that if she acts correctly she can earn daily and weekly rewards. (Click on the picture to get a closer look at her possible rewards.)
The first week she earned $1, the second week she got $1 plus she got to bake with me and the third week she earned $1, baking with mom plus a playdate! I'm really proud of her progress and the best part is I don't feel like I'm "gonna blow" anymore! :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

At Home Tuesday

I'm going to try and dedicate Tuesdays to posts about our home. (Things like organizing, home decorating, green living, etc.) So today I thought I'd show a few pictures of my most recent painting project, our entry way. The area is 2 stories tall and I went back and forth trying to decide if I could paint this myself. After borrowing a ladder from my brother-in-law I decided I'd be able to do it. It wouldn't be easy but I thought I could accomplish it. I think I did pretty good. What do you think?





Okay, I guess I'd better show you all of it...

As it turns out, even with a tall ladder, I couldn't reach the very top of the wall. I did fine with the 1st story, but the 2nd story turned out horrible. I did one coat and it turned out very streaky and, worst of all, I got paint on the upper molding. SOOOOO, turns out we'll have to hire someone after all. Oh well, lesson learned.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mealtime Monday

I'm trying something new this week. I'm going to try to blog a different topic every day like book reviews one day, recipes another. If it works well I may continue this the whole summer. So today is Mealtime Monday and I thought I'd share a recipe for the best kindof food - dessert!

Strawberry Pretzel Salad
This dessert is a real winner with my family - it's become my signature dessert. I think my family is actually disappointed whenever I make a different dessert because they love this one so much! :)

1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels (pretzel sticks work best)
4 1/2 T. white sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup white sugar
2 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 (8 oz) Cool Whip, thawed
1 (6 oz) pkg strawberry flavored jello
2 cups boiling water
1 (16 oz) pkg frozen sliced strawberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crush pretzels until they measure 1 1/2 cups. I use a meat tenderizer mallet.
2. In a 9x13 inch pan, mix together the crushed pretzels, 4 1/2 T. sugar & melted butter. Press into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool completely.

3. In a medium bowl, beat 1 cup sugar & cream cheese until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Spread evenly over the cooled crust. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes then move to next step.

4. In a medium bowl, stir together the jello mix & boiling water. Mix in frozen strawberries & stir until thawed. Pour over cream cheese mixture in pan. Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 1 hour. ENJOY!!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Bye-Bye Training Wheels!!!

Yesterday while Dave was golfing with my dad, Lexie and I kept busy for an hour and a half with something pretty exciting. I'll let her tell you what she did (1st scroll down to the bottom and pause the playlist music)...

Okay, you got all that? As you can see, she was very excited. She had actually already done it 2 or 3 times but this was going to be the first time I videotaped her doing it. So, like Lexie said, "Yeah! Yeah baby! Rock this show!!!"

Sorry for the abrupt end. Don't worry, she DID our neighbor's driveway (much better than the street!). Phew!!! Stopping is definately something we need to work on with her. She keeps stopping by dragging her feet on the ground. (Note to self: next time have Lexie wear tennis shoes, not flip flops.)

As you can see, Lexie has really outgrown her bike.

So we're headed out today to look for a new bike. We promised her that once she learned how to ride without training wheels we'd get her a new bike. She's doing so well, I think it will be even easier if the bike is the right size for her. Here's the bike Lexie has her eyes on:

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New Life

Lexie and I noticed last week that we had a bird's nest in one of the trees close to our front door. I got the ladder out and looked inside and saw there were three Robin's eggs so I took a few pictures of the nest. (I was careful not to touch anything that might upset the mama bird.)

We've been checking it daily and have even seen the mama sitting on the nest a few times. Yesterday we decided to quickly check it before going to Walmart for groceries. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a tiny head sticking out of the nest with it's mouth open!!! I ran inside, got the camera and attempted to take a few pictures before the mama came back. I had to just hold the camera up and HOPE that one of the pictures would turn out. Most of the pictures were out of focus or only captured a part of the nest but the last picture I took turned out even better than I expected... (Make sure you click on it for a closer look.) The picture took my breath away! It looks like this tiny bird who has just recently been born is hugging the other two eggs, his siblings. It was such an amazing sight, I'm glad I got a picture of it. Simply amazing!!!

Today when we went by the nest the mama was there so we didn't get to see if the other eggs hatched. I'll be sure to post any new pictures.

According to ME

Sometimes I think it's the "little things" that are most interesting about people. I might not care what your job is but your favorite ice cream or your favorite TV show? Now we're talkin'!!! So when I saw a fun questionaire on just us I couldn't resist filling it out and posting my answers here. Hope you enjoy it!

When I was a best friend was my sister and, even though we went through some tough teenage years, she still is
I can't imagine my life without...books (Lexie is the easy answer)
If I could be anywhere, I'd be...home
My least favorite chore is...washing the dishes (I have a pile calling my name right now - boo!) though laundry comes in a close 2nd
If I could be on any tv game or reality show, it would be...Deal or No Deal (I've only watched it a few times but I'm always telling the contestants what to do. "That's more than you came with - say DEAL!!!")
If a mystery package arrived on my doorstep, I'd hope it would be...oh, that's hard...a Mac, a SLR digital camera and a new set of pots & pans.
My guilty pleasure is...Reality TV (my fav is Amazing Race)
I thought I would the mom of just one child for 6 1/2 years and counting :(
If a genie granted me three wishes, I’d wish for...oops, already got the mystery package, so I guess it would be...our house to sell, people to care more about our planet/the environment, and a magical cleaning fairy
You would never guess it, but I...never watch the news or read the newspaper

Now it's your turn. Post a comment and fill in the blanks 'according to you.'