Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Give-Away

Okay, I've decided, I'm going to do a give-away. Right here, right now. Here's the deal:

Right now I have 9 followers. That's right, 9. That saddens me a bit. I appreciate the 9 of you though, but somebody just isn't spreading the word. In order to get the word out, I'm going to do something I saw on Clean Teen Fiction just the other day. See, she was having the same problem as me. She had a new blog, and she wanted to up her readership. So she's hosting a give-away. In a few short days she went from 8 followers to 20! I think I can do that too. So, this is what I'm going to do: When my blog reaches 25 followers, I'm going to give away a set of my blocks. The entry period starts now, and goes until May 22nd (that's Mother's Day). So the winner is going to get a late Mother's Day present, but such is life. The winner can choose one of the sets I have listed in my Esty shop (just don't buy it from the shop), or can let me know if they want a custom set (such as a first or last name, or just a word like faith, love, dream, etc.). Winner chooses.

So, entries: To be entered to win you must be a follower and leave a comment on this post. Please leave a separate comment for each entry. You can get another entry if you talk about this blog/giveaway on your Facebook status. You can get another entry by posting about this blog/giveaway on your blog. If you put a link on your blog sidebar to I'll give you another entry. You can get up to 4 entries in the pool. If you do one of the blog entries, I must be able to view your blog to verify the post. I know that sucks for the private bloggers, I would know, I'm one of them (I have a private blog, in addition to my two public blogs), but such is life. Good luck!

Another Give-Away

So I stumbled upon the world's most awesome giveaway today. I think the prize pack is something like $6500. No, that is not a typo. Six THOUSAND five HUNDRED DOLLARS! There are 138 different companies/vendors in the giveaway. Sure, some of them are local pick-up in the greater Phoenix area (does anybody else think about that shipping company commercial, where the guy wants to ship something to "Pa-hoe-nix, only the largest city in Arizona" when you try to spell Phoenix?), but the majority of them are NOT. And I can't deny myself the opportunity to possibly win something so fabulous. And on the rare chance that I do win (there are already over 1000 entries), there are some great baby prizes that my sister Kari could use. So many cute things! Kari, you better be having a girl! So anyway, if you want a chance to win (I hope you don't!) go check it out:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Seedlings, at last!

I'm so excited! I went down to water the seedlings this morning, and we have gobs of green growth! I've known for a few days about the green beans, but today I saw what I believe to be the tomatoes starting to grow, and what I hope are cucumbers and a pumpkin. And this is why you should always mark your flats when you plant the seeds. But the guessing game is kind of fun, I think. Each flat has 8 pots in it, the flats in the top left corner aren't really doing anything, so I'm guessing they are the peppers, which typically need warmer soil temperatures than some of the other stuff.Mostly tomatoes, except for the arch shaped large one in the foreground, which I think might be a pumpkin.
In the foreground are what I'm hoping are cucumbers, then green beans, a flat of something (maybe peppers or another variety of tomato), then more green beans in the back. What's happening in your neck of the woods right now?


One thing that I love to do (when I take the time) is read a good book. I have a degree in Elementary Education, and I don't know if it's because of this or because I never grew up :) but I have a special love of children's books. Some of my favorites: Harry Potter (of course, though I didn't start reading them until after I saw the first movie, I had sworn I wouldn't read that witchcraft book until I was forced to for Children's Literature), Fablehaven, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, The Westing Game, The Giver, Number the Stars, the list goes on and on and on.

I've been known to pick up a book and not put it down until I'm done. I do take breaks to feed my children, sleep, feed myself (well, fix food for myself, then read while eating), feed my husband, take care of personal matter (you know what I'm talking about, right?), and maybe even check the mail. But mostly I just cuddle up on the couch and read. I neglect household chores while doing so. I maintain that once the book is finished I will be able to concentrate on the matters at hand better, instead of constantly thinking about whatever book I am reading. Does anybody else do this?

With that being said, I was introduced to a new blog yesterday. It's called Clean Teen Fiction and the author recommends books that are free of sex, drugs, and foul language. I think that's great! So often now I find teen books that have sex and/or foul language. I haven't really come across a drug problem, though there was one character in the Tomorrow series (by John Marsden) that uses recreational marijuana (and likes to drink), but it wasn't really part of the essential plot and can easily be overlooked. So, basically, I'm excited to follow this blog and see what new books I can find. Right now Kathryn is hosting a book giveaway (if she gets at least 15 followers). So head on over to her blog and check it out if you are as interested in reading as I am!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Seed Starting

Well, the Dear (Mr. S) and I finally started our seeds this past weekend. For those of you in warmer climates, you might think we are a little slow on getting going. However, our average last frost is May 25, so we might be a week or two late, but better late than never, right? We are a Zone 4 here (though some say we are a 5, however, all we need is one cold winter to bump us back to a solid 4, so we claim zone 4) and our average growing season (from the average last frost in May until the average first frost) is around 120 days, with the average first frost on August 23. Yes folks, that's right, AUGUST 23. I love short season gardening.

With that being said, in these parts you need to get a head start on the growing season indoors. You California and Florida people are baffled, I'm sure, but it's true. We actually start growing our tomatoes, peppers, green beans, cucumbers, and pumpkins indoors. Shocking, I know. :) So that's what you'll see in the following pictures. Our 100 (yep, one hundred) little pots that are each harboring a seed from one of the previously listed plants. We want them to get the best start possible. We love our little seeds. :)

So, without further ado, our photos, with explanations before the picture. Up first, what our little growing area/makeshift greenhouse looks like from the outside (well, from the bottom of our basement steps, it's set up in part of our future downstairs bathroom):

Next up is what it looks like when you pull up the painters' plastic, and yes, that is a space heater keeping things warm under there. The upstairs of our house is a balmy 65F in the winter, so the basement is around 60-65F, not warm enough for most of our seeds to germinate.

And another view of underneath, a 10x10 grid of 5"x5"x5" pots in the solid bottomed black plastic planting trays (available for $.97 each at Home Depot). We add some water to the bottom of the trays, mostly to add some humidity to the air, but also for the plants to get a little drink if they need it. In past we have only put water into the trays, and let the plants soak up the water from the trays, to ensure all of the soil was watered. This year though we are watering from the top using one of those hand held pump sprayers that people usually for killing weeds, don't worry, we bought a brand new one for our little plants-to-be. We are now the proud owners of three such sprayers. :) P.S. You can see part of the sprayer on the left hand side of the first picture. And, in case you were wondering, it's a two gallon sprayer.

And finally, a view of the heat bubble (or if you want, the top of our little makeshift greenhouse). I've tried to weigh this thing down, but it's not really working. I might start calling it E.T.'s earthly home, because it reminds me of that part in E.T. when everything is covered in plastic and stuff. You know what part I'm talking about, right? Right?!?
If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I used to be a Master Gardener (I'm not taking the classes this year, due to other commitments on my time and energy). And tell me, what are you planting this year? Do you usually start seeds indoors, or are you blessed to live in a warm(er) climate?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Resurrection Eggs

I don't know about you, but during this Easter season I see a lot of items in the store geared towards the Easter Bunny, Easter Egg hunts, and all things commercial. I don't see much about Jesus and His sacrifice. This really bothers me. I have a friend in Tennessee, and her son, who is in kindergarten, was given an assignment to write a letter to the Easter Bunny. Now, I'm all for more literacy in the classroom and all, but having your students write a letter to the Easter Bunny?!?! Yeah, not a fan. In fact, I don't even talk to my children about Santa Claus, yet somehow they are still getting indoctrinated. Sadly, most of the indoctrination came from church. But, back to Easter...I want my children to know why we celebrate different holidays, and I really want them to know more about Christ and His life. I think the Catholics have it right with celebrating Lent. Why doesn't the rest of the Christian world celebrate Lent? Are we too selfish? Christ fasted for 40 days. 40 days, people. Now, I can't even fast for 24 hours, let alone 40 days, but why shouldn't I give something important up for 40 days to help me remember Christ? I didn't participate in Lent this year, but I'm thinking it might be a good thing to integrate into our family. We celebrated Advent to an extent this past Christmas season, and I think my children really liked it. Our Advent calendar was a puzzle of sorts, that became a picture of the Nativity scene when it was completed. The children really loved it!

Okay, back to Easter again. In an attempt to teach my children more about the importance of Easter, I had my mom help me come up with some Resurrection Eggs. I didn't pull all the scripture verses and egg ideas from one spot, because there were some things that I wanted to include that weren't in any one post/website/blog/whatever. So, here's what I came up with, that I love.

1. The Last Supper. Mark 14:22-24. A small cup, which my church uses to administer the water during the Sacrament. (besides, who wants to keep replacing bread every year?)
2. Judas gives up Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Matthew 26: 14-16. Three dimes.
3. Jesus is bound. Matthew 27:1-2. A piece of jute.
4. Pilate washes his hands. Matthew 27:24-25. A small baggie of soap.
5. Crown of thorns. Matthew 27:28-29. I was fortunate to find some sort of brown twist tie not made with paper, so I used that. Other ideas are brown florist wire, or brown craft wire, or some small brown sticks that you soak and then braid.
6. Jesus is nailed to the cross. John 19:17-18. A nail and a toothpick broken and wrapped back together using thread.

7. The sign above the cross. Matthew 27:37. A small piece of cardboard, card stock, or paperboard with "This is Jesus, The King of the Jews" written on it.
8. The soldiers cast lots for Jesus' garments. Matthew 27:35. Some dice (if you're anything like us, don't forget which game you borrow the dice from).
9. The earth trembles and quakes. Mark 15:33-34, 37-39. A small baggie of rocks and dirt.
10. Jesus' body prepared for burial. Matthew 27:59-60. A small piece of white cloth.
11. Pilate's men seal the tomb with a stone. Matthew 27:62-63, 66. A rock.
12. Jesus rises from the grave. Matthew 28:1-2, 5-6. Empty, for He is Risen! I've also seen ideas of putting a picture of the resurrected Lord in this egg, but I didn't want to spend a lot of time trying to find a picture that small to fit in a standard-sized Easter Egg.

Feel free to use my idea. If you do post it somewhere, I would appreciate a reference. Thanks! Have a Happy Easter, for Jesus is Risen, He is our Savior and King!
P.S. I used scrapbooking stickers for the numbers on my eggs. I know vinyl is all the rage right now, but I had the stickers lying around, so I used them.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Montessori: Two things that make it great

Miss A is in preschool at a Montessori school this year. I probably wouldn't have given Montessori much thought if I weren't for her previous preschool teacher (we love you, Miss Maren) making the decision to not teach preschool again this year. That same day (or maybe the next, but for sure in the same week) I found out about a charter school opening up in our county that was a Montessori school and they had room for 27 preschool students. Well, hot dog! I knew I had to jump on that chance! Idaho school aren't really known for their academic excellence (shocking, I know!) and with all the obsessive mothers in this town, wanting their child to be the best, smartest, cutest, fastest, highest over-achiever, I knew I had to jump on this before all the spots were full. Well, as it turns out, Idaho moms are also pretty cheap, and the $222 per month for tuition wasn't exactly their cup of tea (or can of diet soda, since so many of them are LDS, and see tea as being a huge taboo (more on that some other time)), so I was able to get Miss A in without much effort. Well, I was excited! My daughter was going to get an exclusive Montessori education (and for those that know me, I'm sooooooo into exclusivity (insert eye roll here)). Well, according to Them (the Montessori educators?) it takes six weeks for a kid to "Normalize" and get used to the Montessori way. It's been my experience in volunteering in Miss A's classroom, that for some kids it takes an entire school year, but that's not the point of this post.

The point is, I like Montessori. It has taught Miss A independence. She's able to choose her "works" and do what she wants to do. Sure there are days when she only draws pictures and eats snack, but most days she comes home pretty wore out. Now, I'm in no way an expert on Montessori (although someday I might consider getting Montessori training), but from what I've been able to ascertain and been told, is that when students are engaged in a task of their choosing, they spend more time on the task. I've seen 4-6 year olds working very diligently and intently on one task for 30+ minutes. Granted at the same time there are other kids not on task, but I still think it's pretty impressive that these small people can work so hard on their own, without a teacher constantly on top of them, telling them what to do. The other thing that I've learned is that children are ready to learn different things at different times. And the activities that they are choosing are the ones in which they will learn the most. The places where their learning is ready to explode. I've seen Miss A learn a lot this year. Sure, the first three months or so were rough, and she wasn't on task a lot of the time, but through regular communication with her teacher, we've really been able to get her going well.

I'm going to do a number of posts on Montessori over the next little while, until the government gets their budget worked out. My husband works for a contractor for the Navy, so we are affected by the budget problems, and until a budget gets settled on, we are keeping our money close to our chests, so I don't have much of a budget for creating. But I do have some ideas floating around in my brain I would love to work on.

Monday, April 4, 2011

One of my loves

I have this uncanny knack for spying crack. I don't know why, I guess I have a crack-dar (like a radar, but for butt crack). But (no pun intended), anyway, I found some major crack on Mr. B the other day. Now, Mr. S (my DH) is a very handy guy (he has two of them, buh-dump-chee), and has done many improvements here at our house. I guess at some point Mr. B started watching him, because he's now learning to be a plumber. Crack and all. The crack is probably the easiest part of becoming a plumber. So, I guess when we get around to finishing the bathroom and wet bar in the basement, the Mister will have some help from our little man. And at the rate we are going, the little man just might be a full-fledged plumber by that point. :) So, here's one of my loves (well, I guess two, if you count the crack as a love).