Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Twinsie Tuesday: Top 5 Favorite Books for Toddlers!

I took the twins top 5 favorite books, as of right now, and I thought I share them with you.  I enjoy reading with all our kids.  Reading inspires the imagination and personally I could spend hours in a book store or library.  With the boys we usually read the same stuff over and over again.  Any home with young children knows about that!  So here's the twins' top 5 favorites...

1. Big Chickens by Leslie Helakoski
This book is hilarious!  It tells the story of four big chickens who are afraid of everything and how they overcome those fears.  We laugh and laugh and the boys can say from memory now "Ooh me two, me three, me four"  Great pictures in too!

2.  And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss
This is Liam's favorite! This is an old favorite of mine too!  I'm sure most people are familiar with this one.  A little boy wants to have something interesting to tell his dad about his walk home from school.  So he lets his imagination run wild!  It's full of all kinds of fun and a true Dr. Seuss story!

3.  Little One, God Made You by Amy Warren Hilliker
We've had this book since our 8 year old was little.  I've read this book to all our boys and love it!  The pictures are so sweet and it's a great read for little kids.  It's so basic and easy but full of truth that God made them to love them!

4.  Silly Little Goose! by Nancy Tafuri
A creative book about a little mother goose who is trying to find a perfect place to start her family.  She keeps trying to settle into other farm animals spots until she finds the right place for her.  The boys will make all the sounds of the animals as we read and the book has colorful pictures.

5.  First book of letters published by Parragon Publishing
This book is your basic letters book.  It has pictures of everyday things coordinating with the letters.  It's colorful and easy to turn because it's a board book.  We actually have a lot of these types of books some on shapes and colors and others on numbers.  The twins carry them around with them and will just look them over cover to cover.  It's easy for them to read themselves because it's basically a picture book.  I picked up a whole bunch at a sale that a retired teacher was having.

I know most of these aren't classic children's reading.  We have lots more to pick from but these have been are go to books lately.  My favorite thing is that they enjoy them!  I used to think we should only read the classics or the award winning teacher approved books, until we started teaching my oldest how to read.  I wanted him to WANT to read.  And he very rarely picked out the books I wanted him to. Finally, I just decided as long as he's reading and liking to read, I'd just let him choose.   And I still share with them my favorites from time to time.

What are some of your kids favorite reads these days?   Has your family been reading any of the books on our list?  Any books they carry around with them?  I would love to hear it!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Hello Again!

Back again!  Where was I during this past month?  Taking a break and reworking some things for the blog and our lives in general.  I've got a few irons in the fire that were taking on a little too much heat, as we all do from time to time.  There may have been a little late winter hibernating going on as well.  This family is ready for a break from the daily grind and I never thought I'd say this...summer break!  These pictures are from some stir crazy little boys who are so happy the warmer weather is trying to set in...
The one thing I know from taking the time off is I really enjoy this little blog.  I appreciate every read and every comment.  So look for Twinsie Tuesday tomorrow to kick off April!  It's going to be good!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Home on the Weekends: Cold Outside Fun Inside

It's Saturday morning and most us are experiencing some pretty cold weather  I know we are. But you know what?  I like it!  I love Fall and then Winter is a close second.  It's probably because of the family time and the cold weather.  I like to bundle up, hang out with my family and enjoy the Winter season!

But I know Winter has it's ugly side, first thing comes to mind higher heat bills, going out into the cold, and being inside a lot.  We've seen the higher heat bill, I don't enjoy getting out with the kids in the freezing weather ( I do like going out in the cold by myself), and the boys aren't getting their outside time.  Don't get me wrong they want to.  They would brave the cold to play outside, but they come back in with red, chapped faces and little runny noses.

 So I get why people are so ready for warmer weather.  But it's still Winter and you're kids are probably tired of watching the same shows and playing the same inside games, I know mine are.  So here's a few ideas to change things up this weekend...
  • Make new rules up for your old board games
  • Make puzzles out of card stock or old puzzles 
  • Do a scavenger hunt inside
  • Break out the big bucket of craft supplies and go to town.  Hello?  Pinterest!
  • Make flags (Why? wait for it...)
  • Build forts on opposite ends of the house, then play capture the flag 
  • Read a book & use voices (I love to use different voices when I'm reading to the kids)
  • Cook together kids love to cook with us  & you can make it interesting, maybe use unexpected ingredients & let them choose.  Note: I did not say set them free in the kitchen, I would definitely supervise.
  • Hide & Go Seek, yes I said it, we played all the time as kids and you still can
And if all else fails, put your p.j.'s on (that's assuming you're not still in them, it IS the weekend) and turn on a movie!  I personally, love spending time with our family watching movies by the fire and just being together. It's good times.

Got a new game you invented?  Share it!  Have a craft that your kids love to do?  Share it!  A kid friendly recipe? Do tell!  Share your ideas that you've been doing to change things up during these cold days inside!  

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Beautiful Vue: Castles out of Cushions

Nothing is more fun these days, for the twins, than totally pulling all and I do mean ALL of our couch cushions off our couch and building a castle in the middle of the living room!  Watching them brings back my own memories of spreading sheets all over my parents living room to build a fort.  There was something awesome about crawling through tunnels of cushions and having lunch under a sheet tent in the living room.  Our boys like to make a mound of cushions leading up to the couch just so they can scale it.  They'll spend an hour just climbing and jumping into a pit of cushions.  

I love watching them play and pretend.  Yes my living room looks like a wreck for a little bit, but the time it takes to pick up a few cushions is so worth the time they spend laughing and playing.  And isn't that what children are supposed to do?  A happy and healthy childhood where they can be creative in their play, helps them to be happy and healthy grown ups who are  able to have fun and be creative as adults.  

I think our job, aside from raising them up right, is to also make it easy for them to play and laugh and just be kids!  Our boys' childhood is a precious gift and I hope they always have fond memories of being young as they grow up to the men that their Daddy God has called them to be.

Share your favorite childhood memory or what you love about watching your own children grow and play!  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pumpkin Muffins--They're not just for Fall

I know Fall is over and we're in the middle of Winter here, but I needed a quick and easy breakfast the other morning and I had a can of pumpkin in our pantry that's just sitting there.  Pumpkin doesn't have to only be for Fall.  I picked up this recipe at Smitten Kitchen.  I substituted the oil for applesauce and I added some brown sugar and vanilla...what can I say they go together.  Now this recipe could totally go vegan by taking out the eggs and adding bananas.  Don't believe me?  I found a great site, The Post Punk Kitchen, has a post called Vegan Baking 101.  It has a lot of helpful info. Anyway, the recipe below is simple and delicious!

Pumpkin Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used half whole wheat & half regular)
1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
1 cup (original recipe) to 1 1/3 cup  canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Put liners in muffins tin.  This recipe will make 12 regular sized muffins.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spice in small/medium bowl.

In a larger bowl, whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs,1 1/4 cups sugar, brown sugar, & vanilla. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until just combined. Divide batter among muffin cups (each about 3/4 full).

Stir together last tablespoon of sugar and teaspoon of cinnamon. Sprinkle over each muffin.  This part really gives this recipe something extra special!  Don't skip it.

Bake until puffed and golden brown and wooden pick or skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool in pan on a rack five minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

This was a hit with my crew!  Try it out and let me know what you think!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Saturday Morning Pancake Recipe

In an effort to eat better and cleaner I've stopped buying pancake mix.  We all like pancakes on a Saturday morning, the boys especially.  But who needs the mystery ingredients, right?  So I did what most of us would do when looking for a new recipe, I googled it.   And after searching it out and looking at all different types.  With eggs, with out. With milk, with out.  Super heathy, whole wheat flax seed and flour free, gluten free.  Anyone ever get lost in the googling?    Oh my word!  The possibilities are ENDLESS!  I'm a simple cook and in the end I went with simplicity. 

 I found a basic recipe at ALLRECIPES.com,  I have been using this site for years and just browsing their recipes and articles gets my creative juices going.  I found a simple pancake recipe and I want to share it with you.  I added a couple things to make it my own.  You can kick up the nutritional value by changing what kind of flour you use or subbing butter for applesauce. This recipe really is a great base!  

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon white sugar

1 1/4 cups milk

1 egg

3 tablespoons butter, melted

I added...

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

2 teaspoons of brown sugar

Gather your ingredients and then...

In a big bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a little well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour in the milk, egg and melted butter. Mix it together until smooth, but I usually have a few lumps left in mine.  The sifting helps a little.

Pour the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake.  I have a certain spoon that helps me with this.  Brown on both sides and serve hot.  I made my pancake small to medium size and was able to get about 12 pancakes out of this recipe.  It just depends on how big you make them.  If you have a large crew I would definitely make a double batch.

Like I said a very basic recipe, but it yields delicious results.  Adding the vanilla and brown sugar gives it great flavor.  Of course, you can add blueberries, nuts, or our boys' favorite chocolate chips!  Either way you serve it up, it's going to be good!  We do pancakes a couple Saturdays a month and I think it makes the weekend a little more special.  

If you have a really great pancake recipe or ideas on how to make it healthier share them with me, I would love to hear your ideas!

** Recipe credit to dakota kelly at ALLRECIPES.com 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Home on the Weekends: Cleaning out the Clutter

 I conquered my very unorganized laundry room this week.  For the last couple of months things weren't really being sorted and I have been way behind on folding!  I still am.  But I can't tell you how much better it feels to be organized in our laundry room.  But I still have a few "Hot Spots" that need to be taken out. To be honest I sometimes feel overwhelmed by them and just ignore them all together.    

So what are the "Hot Spots" in our house?  Our closet or the mound of unfolded clothes, our very cluttered bedroom, and our unorganized bathroom.  So where does one go to find inspiration? Well, I went perusing some of my favorite places or blogs rather and found great inspiration in the way of getting organized and cleaning up our "Hot Spots".   These are some of my favorite bloggers and these ladies have some great creative ideas and I wanted to share them with you!

Get inspired to clean out your closet!  I'm tackling this project & I totally love the simplicity of 40 hangers!  After purging our laundry room, I know we have all these clothes and don't wear half of them.  Especially the kids and a certain man, they all have either grown out of them (the kids) or shrunk out of them (the man).  With the twins I save all of Tru's good clothes and pass them down.  But even those need to be sorted through and put away properly.  Anyone else do that?  Put stuff up, but not put them away?  Well this post covers that too...no more excuses for me, huh?

Need inspiration on organizing your bathroom?  This is a great read to get your creative juices going!  At my house we are notorious for a cluttered bathroom, as I'm sure my husband would probably tell you.  Our stuff is all over our vanity and we even have the room to store it.  I think simple, easy ideas make all the difference.  I can do this one for sure!

Oh my goodness!  I found this post on Pinterest and I'm ready to tackle the unorganized pit that is our bedroom.  After reading it,  I'm excited to get our room organized again.  The thing that I usually do is I'll get our room all organized, but not really decorated.  Honestly, our room is just a bed & a couple of dressers.  It hasn't really changed since we first got married.  She gives great ideas on de-cluttering and cleaning up and then shows you how to use functional pieces, like baskets and other pieces, to organize and decorate.  I was in real need of some inspiration in the decorating department. 

What's your "Hot Zone" in your house?  Hopefully, you don't have 3 like some of us do, but if you do it's great to get inspiration and take action!  That's what I'm doing this weekend taking action.  I know I always feel better when our home is organized and not filled with the chaos that clutter brings with it.  It just seems to make things warmer and I always feel like I can conquer the world with a clean home!