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Guest Post: Planting Flowers and Practicing Skills

This is a post from Amanda at Gratefully Growing in Grace who also brought us the Breakfast Basket guest post on June 7. Amanda has a great blog, so be sure to stop by for a visit!

Planting Flowers and Practicing Skills

My name is Amanda and I’m visiting again from Gratefully Growing in Grace where I write about baby, toddler, and preschool activities, crafts I attempt, recipes I manage to cook successfully, and as any good mommy blog includes, cute stories, photos, and videos of my children.

I’ve been blessed to celebrate three Mother’s Days and each year I have asked for the same thing: a mushy card, a photo of me with my children (I have a special frame for the photos), and flowers to plant. My only stipulation is that we all plant the flowers as a family. Doesn’t my husband have an easy job of thinking of Mother’s Day gifts and activities? This year was the first time my son could really help plant the flowers. He could dig the holes with me, choose which flower to put in the hole, place it there, pack the dirt around it, and water it. We had a blast and I can’t wait to have a home where we can plant more flowers and for my daughter to be able to help us – maybe next year!

We had so much fun planting flowers that I wanted to find a way for us to do it again and again. After reading an article (sorry, I can’t remember details because I usually read when my brain is tired to begin with) about preschoolers practicing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, I came up with an idea. I’m sure it isn’t original, but my tired brain thought it was brilliant at the moment.

I bought a small storage basket with holes and a few artificial flowers at the Dollar Tree. I rounded out my artificial flower pile by having my mom donate some of her extras. I used a wire cutter to trim the flowers up to be single stems without a lot of extra leaves and stuff on them.

I washed all the flowers in soapy water and let them dry because I’m a germophobe like that. Next, I gave the pile of flowers and the basket to Mini Me and said, “Let’s make a garden!” Simple as that, we turned the basket on its side and began using steady hands to poke the flower stems into the nifty holes. Tada!

The first time Mini Me did this is took approximately 2.5 minutes and he was off and running. I was crushed that my brilliant-but-not-so-original idea was such a dud. But… he came running back to it later after I’d taken the flowers out and wanted to do it again. Then the next day, he wanted to plant his garden again. I started making him put the stems in the smallest holes for more practice. One day he lovingly made a garden and presented it to me, asking if I could keep it on the table for decoration all day. Awwww… Mother’s Day lives on and my preschooler’s fine motor skills are being fine tuned!

Amanda is the author of Gratefully Growing in Grace where she blogs about baby, toddler, and preschool activities, crafts she attempts, and recipes she manages to cook successfully.


Guest Post: Sustainable Living – It’s Not Just for Hippies Anymore

This is a guest post by Sarah from Professional Intern. Please stop by her blog today!

Beginning with Henry David Thoreau and the philosophy of the Transcendentalists, the Green Movement has slowly edged its way into the human psyche. While this way of living was originally believed to only appeal to hippies and other activists, it has now become commonplace. It is not unusual to see people drinking from reusable containers, carrying their groceries and lunches in reusable bags, and wearing clothing that advertises for this movement.

My mother was the person who started me off with this, when she taught me to recycle. She did this mostly because we lived out in the country and did not have a garbage service. We recycled cans, bottles and newspapers, burned what we could, and were left with one small trash bag every week (for a family of eight), which we would usually dispose of in the dumpster behind the local high school.

Upon graduation, I moved to the nearest city and took the available trash service for granted for several years. I threw out anything and everything, never giving much thought to recycling or reusing. I wish I could say that this was due to an inability to do so, but the truth is that I was lazy and unaware of the impact that my actions had on the environment.

All of this changed after I took a fascinating social philosophy class. There, we discussed at length the green movement, sustainable living, and the past, present and future impact that living wastefully and thoughtlessly has on the Earth. This class reminded me of the importance of making responsible choices throughout my day, and I made a commitment to start making changes immediately.

Some of these changes were easy to implement: I had some broken laundry baskets that I was about to get rid of; instead, I labeled them “plastic,” “glass,” “metal,” and “paper” and was able to reuse them. I bought recycled goods whenever possible (there are trash bags, paper towels, toilet paper, etc., that fall under this category). I made my own cleaning goods whenever possible, and bought environmentally-friendly products when I could. I shopped at a local grocery store that allowed and encouraged its customers to take their groceries home in the boxes that the store would otherwise throw away, and I then reused the boxes for storage, crafts, and to start fires.

After all of the obvious bases were covered, I brainstormed for other ways that I could be more environmentally conscious. I started using cloth diapers for my daughter. This may not seem like a big deal to all of you non-parents out there, but I was throwing away between four and six diapers a day, which equated to an average of 150 diapers a month. This not only helped my local landfill, but my pocketbook as well. I paid nearly $100 for twelve cloth diapers and additional inserts, and never had to buy another disposable diaper again. In fact, they were so durable that I passed them on to my sister-in-law, who made good use of them before passing them on to her sister-in-law.

I’m a homeschooler, and I discovered that many of the things I was throwing away could easily be reused for a craft project of some sort. Milk jugs can be made into bird feeders, as can empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls; paper with printing on just one side can be used for its other side; paper that has been thoroughly used can still be used in collages and the like (along with used magazines).

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises I had was when it came time to buy some patio furniture. We had a plastic set that was slowly falling to pieces, and when I looked into recycling it, I was dismayed to discover that there were no local places that would accept it for recycling. After so many months of scrupulous green living, I felt defeated when I ended up throwing our old furniture away. When I shopped for new furniture, I eventually settled on cast aluminum patio furniture, partly because of its attractiveness, but also largely because aluminum is 100% recyclable, unlike plastic.

My husband started off as a large impediment to the changes I was trying to implement. He had grown up in the city and had a “sustainable living is for hippies” mentality. I frequently had to dig his soda cans and glass bottles out of the garbage can. However, when he no longer had to pay for diapers and saw that I was making money from the aluminum cans I was recycling, he changed his mind and started helping out a little more.

Now, it is commonplace for my family to recycle and reuse whenever possible. My son has actually caught me mistakenly throwing away something that I could have recycled, and he gleefully reprimanded me for it. My daughter is still a little too young to understand about living green, but we have moved back out to the country, and it is my hope that she will grow up thinking it is normal, and that “wasteful living is for losers,” whereas sustainable living is for everyone.

Guest Post: ABC Photo Essay

This is a guest post from Pamela at Reviews She ROTE.
Stop by her blog today!

Having an ABC day is a fun way to keep your kids busy all day or, as I did this time, all week. Last year at the end of school I was looking for ways my kids could stay active all day so I didn’t have to hear “MOMMY I’M BORED” I did a day last year, but this year I stretched it out for a whole week!!! We didn’t do it alphabetically but every letter was used, to keep track I had a list and when we did the activity I filled in that letter, some were planned others just happened and the kids found it fun to find ways to fill in the last few letters.

Here’s a photo essay to show you all the fun things we did. Don’t worry there are NOT 26 photos (sigh of relief from all LOL).

Doing a little Artwork

Blowing Bubbles

Cuddles with Cat

Making up some Dumplings for Dinner

Hayden on the High slide and enjoying some Ice-cream

Climbing on the Junglegym, Kisses for Dad…Kayleigh having Lemon aide from McDonalds and Nuggets

Outside fun

Ravishing Pancake Smile what a Qt!!!

Talking to Uncle then enjoying Veggie chips.

Washing the car

a little X-box when the rain came

…and making Y‘s on the lawn.

At the end of the day TIME for BED and catching some Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz‘s

Pamela is the author of Reviews She ROTE. Pamela is a SAHM of two children. She enjoys scrapbooking, taking photos, and a little reality TV. Pamela says, “I’ve had a blog for a while but just in the past few months really taking it more serious. I blog about “life” and I also do product reviews and a few giveaways feel free to check me out.” 🙂

Guest Post: Toilet Training – For the patient and unwearied

This is a post from dekota at dekota marie blog. Be sure to stop by her place today!

Toilet training has never been easy.

And, I have to say, I am absolutely not an expert. The only true, sound advice I can give you is to be patient.

However, there is something I have heard from the time I became a parent that I never thought would ring true today.

Wait until your child is ready for toilet training.
You, and your child, will know when he or she is ready.

When my son was two, I honestly thought that I would never see the day that he would be potty trained. That he would still be using diapers on his way out the door for college. That I would still be asking him if he did a stinky before he leaves for his first date with a girl.

It often times reminded me of an episode of yes dear. Two parents struggling to potty train their son, often day dreaming of their son pooping in the corner in his diaper in his 20’s.

I tried everything I could. I did everything that books tell you to do. He had his own potty, a training seat for the “big boy” toilet, books, dolls, m&m’s – you name it, we tried it. I was at my wits ends, I was frustrated, and I was DONE. I gave up. I was willing to wipe his hiney until he was an adult. It would have been less frustrating, right?

Until one morning he woke up and got out of bed. His diaper was so full and so heavy that it fell right off of him. This wasn’t unusual because this boy could pee and did a lot at night.

All of a sudden, he started crying and screaming. I, of course, panic and run to his side to find out what is wrong. I GOT TO GO PEE!

Of course, knowing me, you would know that I started to laugh. This, after all, angers him slightly. We rush to the bathroom and with delight he goes in the potty! We do our happy dance, flush the toilet, and hop on out of the bathroom.

He has been toilet trained ever since.

So, simply said, it was just easier to wait until he was ready over pushing him to be ready because I no longer wanted him in diapers. I couldn’t keep forcing him to try to do something that was unnatural for him. Peeing and pooping in a diaper was what was natural for him since day one.

I know this is easier said than done, but when you are at your wits end and ready to be done you should know that there is hope! He or she will be potty trained, it just takes a lot of time and patience – or waiting in my case :).

dekota marie recently moved from Florida to North Carolina where she is a stay at home wife, mother of a two year old and four year old, a full time student, an avid eBayer, and the owner of dekota marie blog. She writes about her experiences as a mom, as a wife, and as a woman along with sharing recipes, crafts, and awesome products she finds online.

Guest Post: Fun Summer Reads for Kids

This guest post is by Theresa at Our Life in Words. Stop by her great blog today!

Long hot summer days are a great time for lazing away with a good book.

Even if your children want to be active during the day, why not cuddle together at night with a good book?

When my girls were little, I looked forward to reading to them in bed at night. Now that they are 9 and 11, one of our favorite things to do is pop a big bowl of popcorn and snuggle together in my Queen size bed, each reading our own books. Sometimes we read really funny or good parts aloud to each other. I believe that if children associate reading with a quiet, cuddly, snuggly, comfortable family time where they feel loved, they will be much more inclined to grow up to enjoy reading.

As a children’s librarian, one of my favorite things is helping children to find books that will inspire a lifelong love of reading. These may be different books for every child. Honestly, many of the books that were said to be “wonderful” when we were kids will no longer inspire a love of reading in children.

Here is a list of New books that may, hopefully inspire a love of reading in your child. Please ask your local librarian for more help and if you still need recommendations, please email me at my blog and give me an idea of what your child likes and how old they are and I will be happy to try to point you in the right direction!

Toddler – PreK

Elephant & Piggie series by Mo Willems
Knuffle Bunny series by Mo Willems
Mo Willems is a New York Times best selling author of children’s books and a three time Caldecott winner. He has changed the face of children’s literature.

McDuff series by Rosemary Wells
Children delight in this series about a West Highland terrier. Beautiful, retro illustrations make it pleasurable for parents as well.

Olivia by Ian Falconer
Who can resist Olivia? The funny, formidable little pig will delight your children and the illustrations are sure to keep parents enjoying these books as well.

Biscuit series by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
This adorable pup can grow with your child. There are board books, story books and then easy leveled reading books for when they start to read on their own.

Grades K -2

Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
Parents will remember this amusing literal minded housekeeper from when they were learning to read. These books provide delightful lessons into the true meaning of what we say and keep children laughing.

The Grandmas Books by Emily Arnold McCully
These books are very funny and perfect for emerging readers.

Fly Guy series by Tedd Arnold
A boy meets a fly that can say the child’s name and together they set off on a series of adventures that will keep emerging readers entertained.

Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Parents may remember this family of tree house dwelling bears from their own childhood. This vast series covers all kind of life lessons and social issues from chores to going to the dentist to sibling rivalry.

Grades 2-4

Baby Mouse series by Jennifer & Matthew Holm
Reluctant readers and even children who love to read delight in this comical graphic novel series about a mouse and her adventures.

Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osbourne
Mystery, exploration and adventure abound in this series that covers historical and scientific events. This series is often recognized for teaching children to predict, infer and visualize- all key skills in building strong readers.

Ramona & Beezus series, Ralph S. Mouse series, Henry & Ribsy series – Beverly Cleary
Parents may remember these series from their childhood and indeed they are still popular with kids. Children can relate easily to these characters and the pace of the novel is just right for the reader who is ready to read chapter books independently.

Weird School Daze series by Dan Gutman
Boys love this off the wall series of impossible scenarios. Reluctant readers will have no trouble being entertained and children who love to read will delight in this fun series.

Grades 3-5

Allie Finkle by Meg Cabot
Moms may be familiar with Meg Cabot and now she has branched out into children’s novels. My daughters love this series about a quirky character who encourages individuality.

Mother-Daughter Book Club series by Heather Vogel Frederick
This series is really more for the 3-5 grader. In each book, the author introduces a work of classic literature and makes it more digestible for today’s young audience by having a fictional book club of girls from all different walks of life and their mothers read and discuss the books as part of their book club. Girls will relate to the modern day character’s lives and emotions while reading the book.

Baseball Card Adventures (Babe and Me) by Dan Gutman
Boys are able to time travel back in time to experience that greats of baseball at their finest, to meet them and get to know them. A fantasy for any young boy who loves baseball!

There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom, Wayside School series, Holes – Louis Sachar
Louis Sachar writes books that kids want to read. Kids find his characters likable and enjoy the crazy situations he puts them in.

Theresa gave up the glamour of being a kindergarten teacher to stay home with her kids for nine years. She now works part-time as the Assistant Children’s Librarian at her local public library.

Guest Post: Parent Club

This is a guest post by Dana from YouthMuse. She has a lot of great stuff on her blog, so be sure to check it out!

It’s The Parent Clubs, Not the Kids That Can Drive You to Drink

It is not the children in one’s classroom that lead a teacher to drink (or seek some other, “healthier” stress reliever); it’s the Parent Teacher Association, a.k.a. “Parent Club”.

In an attempt to put together a celebratory Thank You dinner for the most active members of my school’s Parent Club, I’ve had 3 calendar dates rejected after setting them, 3 venues rejected after booking them and 2 finalized dinners cancelled altogether. We’re talking about a “Thank You” dinner paid for by the school – not a fundraiser!
Interestingly, the rejections came from parents who had complained one way or the other to a teacher about their kids’ problems.

Parents can be far more concerned about the daily foibles of their kids than kids are. Although some of their concerns are valid, others need to be confronted by and worked out by the kid himself.
But parents who bombard teachers with “His feelings were hurt,” “He can’t lose his recess even if he didn’t turn in homework for the week,” or “I know you are watching 20-plus kids at a time, but mine didn’t drink enough water and it’s hot outside” are factually doing a disservice to their child.
Coach the kids, don’t resolve the problem yourself, and don’t expect your child’s school teacher to resolve it, either.

Most of the time the real problem is not the one you think it is, anyway!

The child is the one ultimately responsible for his education and environment. By the time he / she is 6 and older, they need far less hand-holding and far more “It’s your life, how do you want to live it?”

YouthMUSE would say the top three goals any parent should have and be responsible for are:
1. Insisting their child become actively self-reliant.
2. Ensuring their child is moral, both through education and parental example.
3. Helping their child get the best general education possible in his / her environment.

These three things alone will give us ethical, productive and intelligent future generations.

There are no parents around to guide our everyday decisions in adulthood. Perhaps the roots of teen delinquency fall back to parents failing to do #1 through 3 above.

Dana Houston Jackson

YouthMUSE was created as an outlet for truly exceptional books, games and real life examples to guide and inspire children to discover their own super powers. Dana is an elementary teacher by trade, fumbling blogger, and understanding junkie. Join her at

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