Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing...True to Your Word, You let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction...You serve me a six-course dinner...You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I'm back home in the house of God for the rest of my life. --From Psalm 23, The Message

Monday, November 16, 2009

Responding to World Religions

As you encounter other world religions, I thought that this site might offer you some specific, well-articulated responses from a Christian vantage point.

The insights into Islam were helpful to me!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Quote (that I stole from Ross and Taya)

“Earth's crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes...” -Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A few gift ideas for the one who has everything

1) Purchase a few great-smelling potted herbs (rosemary and basil are a great start!), and replant them in a basket for an instant herb garden. Cover the soil with some craft moss for extra polish.
2) Send them a fresh evergreen wreath for the season (I like
3) Consider a personalized embosser for readers who loan out their books, or people who make their own stationery--just press it into a plain piece of paper or envelope. A personalized stamp is good for the cook who loves to give out her recipes. often has 40% discounts.
4) Give a free date night or free babysitting. (Give ME housecleaning! Ha, ha!) Or as my mom did, give a puzzle, a Starbucks coupon, and a coupon for free babysitting--a date in a box!
5) Give a memory and an experience: Invite them out to a nice dinner you'll pay for, or for kids, give them a season pass to the zoo, tickets to a play, train tickets...the sky is the limit!
6) Give a coupon book. Since I'm bad at asking for things I need, my husband gave me coupon vouchers for a run to Starbucks, a girls' night out, a massage--all with an expiration date so I was motivated to use them!
7) Give to someone else. has a catalog to give everything from a goat to fresh drinking water to job education for women, and you can give the gifts on behalf of someone else!
8) For the person overseas, send them an herb garden in an envelope--packets of seeds tied with a ribbon.
9) Give for a year--in a magazine subscription (Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, Fine Cooking, Fine Homebuilding--it can be quite personalized!).
10) Give handiwork. Calligraphy, collages of your kids, great framed photographs of family members, lavender bath salts (kosher salt + lavender oil in an old Bell jar), homemade greeting cards...
11) Give a CD of songs that celebrates your relationship. (Pay for the songs.)
12) Give a kit to do something: a home spa kit; natural cleansers (I've done one post on these) in a caddy with microfiber cloths, etc.; a kit of things, with tickets, to enjoy stuff in their area (peanuts for a baseball game with a hat, etc.); a gardening starter kit; soda, microwave popcorn, and a DVD for a movie night; a mixing bowl, spoon, some spices, and a couple of favorite recipes; a pedicure kit.

Monday, November 9, 2009

DIY Baby Food 101

This is for all you new moms out there. I'm not a nurse or dietician, so feel free to prove me horribly wrong. :)

It's a ton cheaper to make your own, so hopefully this can help make it doable for you.

A few general principles (if you already know this stuff, I’m totally not trying to be condescending!):
· Baby food is basically a soft fruit or veggie, or a cooked hard one, pureed with a little water in a blender or food processor (a few are soft enough, like bananas, to just mash up in a food chopper).
· Don’t cook if you don’t need to; that takes away nutrients. Save the water you cook it in to add to the blender, to keep some of the vitamins.
· Don’t feel like you need to add salt or butter (and definitely not honey, since they can’t have that till 1). Just like for toddlers, you’re training them how to eat for life, and they’re not used to having the taste of that stuff anyway, so they don’t really need it. But I don’t think it’s horrible for them if you just use the leftover veggies from your own dinner.
· To preserve it, just pour the blender contents into ice cube trays, then save the frozen cubes in labeled Ziplocs. Three cubes are thawed in about 45 seconds in my microwave; our six-month-old has two to three cubes per meal right now.
· If it’s a thinner consistency when you pull it out of the fridge or thaw it, just add a little cereal.
· Rice cereal makes it go further (i.e. makes it cheaper), is more filling, and adds some vitamins. Soon, graduate to whole grains so that he starts to like the taste of whole grain stuff (much healthier).
· You can eventually combine a few together, like bananas and strawberries or pears, or the mixed frozen veggies. But at first you want to serve them something solo for a day or so to isolate any allergies he might have.
· For ideas, look at the baby food aisle in the store (they have ingredients on the back if the name of the food isn’t clear about what’s in it).
· You can eventually try some more exotic stuff: mangoes, avocadoes, etc. A little more expensive, but if teaching your little guy/lady variety is important to you, it may be worth the extra cost.
· I tend to think that frozen vegetables are less processed, less salt, and generally healthier. But our pediatrician advised that we could use canned fruit as long as it was preserved in juice, not syrup.
· Around eight months you can add meat to the blend (I just used what we had for dinner if it wasn’t to seasoned or spicy! I want them to be able to transition to table food without too much trouble), but if you’re feeling more cautious, you can always cook a chicken breast and throw it in there. Spaghetti works fine too.

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Educational ideas!

I have only tried about half of these (many of these we're not ready for yet!), but some of them were too good not to pass on to someone!

1) Take a vinyl shower curtain and draw a big calculator on it. Let the kids jump around on it to practice their math facts. We may try this out with sidewalk chalk on our porch before I invest in the $5 curtain...

2) Check out this idea. Thought it looked really cool as a fun project to make; a geodesic dome out of rolled newspapers (no, I do not know what geodesic means. Maybe I should ask my kindergartener).’s a video on it, too, at

3) A guessing game: Hold a handful of change behind your back and reveal both the number of coins and the total sum: “I’ve got six coins that equal $.54.”

4) Let them “order” an food from a restaurant’s menu (find them online) with a fictional amount of money. Or take it a step further, with philanthropy: Look at World Vision or Heifer’s online giving catalogs, give them an amount of money to spend, and see how different groups of kids would choose to designate their money to give away! Could be some of their first introductions to kids who are poorer than themselves, the idea of giving charitably, and the idea that if we give to certain projects, those projects keep giving—like a cow to a family who has to give its calf to another needy family.

5) Halloween candy science: soak various candies In water and heat them to see how they’re affected by moisture and temperature: Can also make bar graphs and use other methods to record observations.

6) Try and for some math and language games.

7) Have you ever heard of the game Equate? It's an equation-building game that's a lot like Scrabble for numbers. Looks cool.

8) Roll dice, and have the kids get coins equivalent to what they’ve rolled (Put 4 quarters, 3 dimes, 2 nickels, and five pennies per person in the middle). As players amass money, they must trade in smaller coins for bigger ones. Race to $1. Once they get good, add a rule that says players lose a nickel for a missed trading-up opportunity. We play a simpler version: get the coins equivalent to what you've rolled; keep score by writing on your "writing to 100" placemat. Builds skills in counting money, adding numbers on dice, adding two-column numbers, and writing numbers.

9) Have them pick a place in your state or the U.S. they want to go, and research a) what roads to take to get there, b) things to do when they get there, c) a place to stop and see along the way, etc.

10) Label the bottoms of plastic Easter eggs with the parts of speech, then label the tops with words that apply. (It's harder than it looks to think of words that aren't both nouns and verbs!) Student matches the bottoms with the correct tops.

11) Label popsicle sticks with the names of a geometric shape: 4 sticks in one color that say "square", 3 in another color that say "triangle", etc.; work up to dodecagon! Have them make the correct shape. For preliterate kids, just put dots on the end (three popsicle sticks with purple dots on both ends, for example, could be put together to make a triangle).

12) We like to practice math facts with the addition version of this: I actually alternate between these and Brain Quest questions, and my son can build up to certain rewards.

13) I have him go "shopping" by labeling your pantry goods with "prices". We work on counting money and addition. Not there yet with subtraction!

14) Here's a couple that posted on MomBlog.

I actually found most of these in Family Fun magazines someone gave me; $10 for a year’s subscription. I think I might end up subscribing just for the educational ideas!