Monthly Archives: July 2011

Mormon Parent Hacks: 5 FHEs in 5 Minutes for Kids 5 and Under

Sorry to everyone who read this post when it was published in very early draft form.  That’s what happens when you mess around with publishing on your phone.  Here it is in full splendor.

Family Home Evening (FHE) is a major, definable task of Mormon parenting, yet there are so many excuses for not doing it.  When kids are young, it seems almost pointless since they can hardly pay attention anyway, but you know you need to get into the habit or it will be harder to start later.  Then there’s the whole planning ahead thing: I don’t know about you, but I can barely keep up with sweeping my floor and cleaning the highchair, much less plan a meaningful, spiritual FHE.

So I’ve hacked FHE at our house.  We pretty much rotate between the following FHE ideas which can be put together with only 5 minutes of planning right after dinner and take only about 15 minutes to execute when you add a song and prayer. Continue reading

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Filed under Baby (9 - 18 mos), Family Culture, Mormon Parenting Hacks, Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Saturday Links – Family Heritage and Alphabet Rocks

Theory Links

Going Against a Toddler’s Will – Can I just say that I am so happy that someone linked me up with this blog?  Her writing in consistently on par.  Excellent points about necessities vs. like-to’s and being willing to make your kid cry if necessary.  More about that later this week when I review the book on which her philosophy is based, Dear Parent.

10 Ideas for Creating a Sense of Family Heritage – I have totally been thinking about doing #7 for a while.  (And I thought I was so unique for thinking of it.)  Guess this is another hint that I should get cracking writing these books.  Plus they’ll make great Christmas gifts for cousins.

Activity Links

Spaghetti and Play-doh = A Very Fun Match – When I first saw the title, I thought about cooked spaghetti.  Totally wouldn’t work.

Activities for Melissa and Doug Lacing Beads

Alphabet Rocks – Hello!  Totally cute, nature-y, and educational?  100% there.

Footprint Painting

Icy Play on a Very Hot Day

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Filed under Discipline, Family Culture, Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Saturday Five, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Spreadsheet Wednesday: Food Storage Link Love

Since at the time you read this I will be on a mini-vacation with the in-laws, I’m including a little link love for this Spreadsheet Wednesday.  We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled and original programming next week.

The girls over at Food Storage Made Easy are honestly one of my favorite resources for building your food storage.  (Not sure what I mean by food storage?  Read their great explanation.)  Everything they have to say is on the ball and I love their practical approach of doing one things at a time to move towards a healthier lifestyle that incorporates food storage.

But most of all, I love their spreadsheets. Oh yes, I’m that much of a geek. My favorite is the 3 month supply calculator, which makes the project of figuring out what you need easy. But there are more of great resources available, so check them out.

One of these years I’m going to follow their baby steps emails and get my food storage in proper shape . . . But for now, visiting their website counts, right?

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Filed under Cooking & Meal Prep, Spreadsheet Wednesday, Uncategorized

Library Hits – 7/18/2011

Some classics this week, as well as a few books not to check out to teach your toddler about the country.

Top of the Pile

The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson
Have to say I was skeptical when I first checked out this book when it won the Caldecott in 2009. I thought the poetry was a bit of a stretch, but it really has grown on me.  It goes without saying that the illustrations rock.  And it’s one of Monkey’s favorite explicitly-about-going-to-sleep books.  I need to take my own advice and buy this awesome book so my library can have its copy back. Continue reading

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Filed under Library Hits, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Saturday Links – Plane Travel, Treasure Baskets, and Fairy Gardens

Theory Links

Plane Travel Sanity Laws: For the Insane Traveling Families – Loved this super detailed post on plane travel!  I could have written it myself.  I always forget about the bassinet thing; I’ll have to try that sometime.

Doing Everything right is an Unrealistic Goal – Just a reminder, guys.

Put your random bag collection to work by creating “activity totes” – Parent Hacks, I’m so already there.  I have a park bag (towel for wet slides, waterproof blanket, sunscreen, bandaids), a library bag, and a couple quiet activity bags for my son to pull out when Mommy’s doing chores.  Scroll to the comments for a great idea on helping the homeless (with tote bags!).

Activity Links

Treasure Baskets for Babies – I had heard of this idea before (in Montessori books I’ve been reading), and this post was a good reminder that I’ve been meaning to do this.  So much nicer to have an organized place for baby “untoys” than to leave junk lying around your house, which is what happens when we do “untoys.”  I’m actually going to make some portable treasure kits for Sailor for our road trip in August.

Is there a fairy in your garden? – Creating a fairy garden is one of the ideas I’m saving for that far-off imagined day when I have a girl.  I love the house and swimming pools.

Sidewalk Paint – There have been more recipes for sidewalk paint floating around the internet lately than, well, something very plentiful.  I like this recipe for its quick and simple ingredients.  We made some spontaneously in a leftover 30 minute period before dinner.  It’s that easy.

Fun Bubble Wrap “Exam” – Don’t let the word exam scare you.  You could use this activity to review just about any concept with a pre-writing child.


Filed under Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Saturday Five, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs), Travel

Spreadsheet Wednesday: Coupon Lists

Click to view and download a copy

I’ve decided this month is food spreadsheet month (since I’ve already shared my Summer Menu and Pantry List), and although this one doesn’t have to do with cooking, it certainly has everything to do with my grocery shopping.  So this is my coupon planning spreadsheet. I know, it doesn’t look like much, but it saves me a lot of money and keeps my head on straight when shopping.  And once printed out, it’s much more portable than my massive coupon binder. :) Continue reading

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Filed under Cooking & Meal Prep, Couponing/Money Saving, Spreadsheet Wednesday

Library Hits – 7/11/2011

Kind of a lame week for library books.  I think I was under the weather the week I checked these out, so we didn’t end up with much and much of it was a little odd.

Top of the Pile

LMNO Peas by Keith Baker
Decent as far as alphabet books go.  Annoying verses, but the artwork with all the little peas is worth a look.  Nice puns involving peas in the jacket material. :D Continue reading

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Filed under Library Hits, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Saturday Links – Dealing with No and New Painting Ideas

Theory Links

What To Do When Toddlers Say No – I’ve had good success with this method of offering choices.  Another tip that goes hand in hand with this is don’t ask a question with a wrong answer.  (ie “Do you want to go now?” (NO!) should be “Do you want to walk to the car or should I carry you?”)  I enjoyed an older, related post on toddler discipline as well, except that I do believe time out can be a connected, rather than arbitrary, punishment.  But more on that another time.

How to Be a Professional (Mom) – I loved this post on SimpleMom this week.  The more I think of motherhood as an actual occupation, the more the idea works for me.

Activity Links

Tall Painting, Tall Town – I’d have to be really brave and put together to try this, but it looks like fun.

Slide Drawing – As in playground, not old folks’ pictures.  This is more my style.  I’ll probably be hitting up the local elementary school playground sometime to do it.

Painting with Q-tips – Simple and effective.  And cheap!

6 Fun Beach Ball Games for Preschoolers – Some are overcomplicated for Monkey, but who doesn’t need more ball play ideas.

Number Playdough Mats – Monkey was crazy for these, since he’s not much into creating actual objects yet.  I predict the alphabet ones will hit our table soon.


Filed under Discipline, Parental Motivators, Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Saturday Five, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Theory Thursday: Quiet Music Time, A Naptime Transition Strategy

Okay, so it’s really Friday.  I promise I was actually working on a post yesterday, but the topic turned out to be bigger and require more research than I had time for.  So that post is coming in future weeks, but I’m throwing this post together for consistency.  Because that’s how much I care about you.

There comes a time in every mother’s life.  A time of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.  The time when your toddler decides he/she’s too old for naps.  Alas, it is a sad day.

However, just like eating vegetables, toddlers don’t always know what’s best for them.  Monkey and I went through a period of naptime transition a few months ago, when Monkey was, say, 2.25 years old.  It was taking about an hour and much screaming and yelling to get him to take a nap, and most days, he won and got to do “quiet play time” in his room instead.  We were down to about 2 naps a week, when my husband (seeing the stress caused by attemping nap time) suggested that we try doing away with naps for a few weeks, just to see what happened.

The results were dramatic.  Although Monkey and I no longer had to fight daily over naptime, which was nice, it wasn’t a fair trade considering how the lack of naps was effecting his behavior the rest of the day.  He couldn’t focus on what we had to say, couldn’t sit still at the dinner table, and began throwing more tantrums.  Even though he’s been speaking in paragraphs for a while, he began babbling nonsense almost constantly.  Monkey was clearly suffering from sleep deprivation.

So, what to do?  Monkey needed a nap, but was getting the nap worth shooting my afternoon all to pieces?  Surely there was a way to make naptime less of a pain for us both.  Browsing through every sleep book on the shelves at our library, I hit upon an idea, and thus was born Quiet Music Time (QMT).

Here’s how QMT works: after cleaning up all the toys and reading stories, I put Monkey in his bed and turn on some soothing music.  I pick a point in the CD such that the music plays for about 30 minutes.  I explained to Monkey that he needed to sit quietly in his bed, in the dark, and listen to the music.  If he is still awake when the music stops, he can have a hour of quiet play time.  After clearing up the usually two-year-old confusion about the rules, Monkey has been doing a lot better at napping and is back to his usual sparkling personality.

Why does QMT work?  Here are my theories:

  • First, the average time it takes to fall asleep is 20 minutes.  Bet you didn’t think it was that long.  (I’m pulling up the research on that for the post I mentioned above.)  By having QMT last 30 minutes, there’s time for the usual toddler arguing and still time to fall asleep before the music ends.  If he’s being really obstinant, I push it to 45 minutes.
  • Music gives Monkey something to focus on, which makes him more willing to hold still, and thus fall asleep.
  • Setting a time limit that is tangible to your toddler helps him understand that he doesn’t have to stay in isolation forever.  It also gives you a way to give up on nap time without having your toddler feel like his bad behavior won.
  • Even if napping isn’t achieved, 30 minutes of QMT does a lot to recharge a cranky toddler.

We’ll probably continue quiet music time until Monkey enters Kindergarten, whether he naps or not.  Of course, limiting his nap time to 60-90 minutes has also helped establish a daily pattern, rather than oversleeping one day, then not sleeping the next.

One thing I have had a hard time with is finding good quiet music to listen to that’s not too baby-ish or instrumental.  (Monkey needs words in his music, just like me.)  Any suggestions?


Filed under Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Sleep, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Spreadsheet Wednesday: Pantry List

Click to view and download a copy

So this will be a quick one, but it goes well with last week’s Spreadsheet Wednesday: my pantry list.   This is another one I keep laminated (or sheet-protector-ed) on the fridge.

The list itself is self-explanatory.  These are the ingredients I keep on hand for various recipes.  I don’t list these ingredients on my menu plan, since I assume I have them already.  The first two columns are the most used, along with the paper products section.

I use a dry erase marker to circle items as a run out during the week.  Then, as I prepare for a shopping trip, I quickly go through at least the first two columns to check for things that haven’t run out yet, but probably will before the next trip.  That way, I don’t forget the eggs. Or the onions.  It’s surprisingly devastating to run out of onions.

I’m thinking of switching to a system where I print out a new one of these every week and use a highlighter to mark items.  Then I can just take it to the store with me instead of writing out the list separately.

Do you keep a pantry list?  How do you keep from forgetting the eggs?

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Filed under Cooking & Meal Prep, Spreadsheet Wednesday