Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Unwinding for Lunch

Ca Nuong Vietnamese Roasted Catfish
So today I was supposed to tackle my child's clothes and toys to go through and sort out everything she's outgrown so I could give them to another mom that needed them.  I was also supposed to bag up another mound of things we are going to donate to Salvation Army and then pack the things we need for the next few weeks until we meet our things in WA.  I don't know if I was feeling lazy or stir crazy but I felt like I HAD to get out of the house.  I've stayed home everyday for almost two weeks doing things to prepare for this move.  I just needed time to get out of the house for a few hours, and unwind.

So I met up with my very pregnant sister, my nephew and mom to have Vietnamese style roasted catfish.  YUM!  The fish was so tender and juicy and the skin was crispy.  We used rice paper wrappers, added the fish, some noodles, cucumber slices, lettuce and mint and rolled them up to dip into a sauce.  It's so rare that we go out to eat a dish like that and it hit the spot!  Izzy enjoyed seeing her buddy Nate too!  She kept puckering up to kiss him and he was running around dodging her kisses and hugs.  I guess girls already have cooties by age 2.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Don't bother me I'm eating!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

The End is Near

I finally feel like I'm starting to get things done with this move.  The movers will be here on Friday and for the past two weeks I've been going through our house figuring out what's going, what's getting donated or given away and what's going into the trash.  So far we've already donated 7 bags full of clothing to goodwill and given away four shelves of books, baby things, furniture and cooking stuff to family and friends.  Tomorrow's plan is to go through the baby's clothes and toys to sort out the ones she's outgrown.  Then I'm going set aside everything I think she'll need until we're reunited with our household stuff.  I'll probably also set aside everything I'll need, finish washing clothes, bag up more things to donate/give away/throw away, and whatever else I can think of before my energy runs out.  I'm ready for this move to be over with and I vow (snicker) to never accumulate useless junk again.  Pfft!  Who am I kidding, it'll happen again.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Only 40 Calories?

As luck would have it, as a BzzAgent I signed up for a Nature's Own campaign and was chosen to participate. They sent over a coupon to try out a free loaf to see what our family thought about it.   What? Free food and it's something I have to buy for Izzy?!? Umm, yes I'll try it out. One of the breads they offer is a 40 calorie 9-Grain bread made with no artificial preservative, colors or flavors.

Last week, she kept saying something that sounded like "bed" and I couldn't figure out what she wanted. She just kept asking for "more bed peess mama".  I knew she wanted something but with every wrong guess I made her voice just became more insistent and frantic.  Mommy just wasn't getting it and after 10 minutes she was in full tantrum mode and wailing because she wanted "bed" and I had no idea what she was talking about. I finally picked her up and asked her to show me. She pointed in a direction and at each juncture she pointed which way she wanted me to turn. Her directions sent me down the hall from her room, down stairs, through the living room, into the kitchen and ended with me standing in front of the kitchen counter.  Once there she pointed to the bread laying on the counter and she "bed".

Me: "OH! You want some BRRREAD."
Izzy: "bed"
Me: "No, baby it's brrrreeaad".
Izzy: ""brrrred"
Me: (close enough) "Good job, That's right it's bread.  You can have some if you sit down."

It turns out that she loves eating the 40 calorie 9-Grain Nature's Own bread loaf I picked up.  If she had to choose between gold fish, fruit snacks or bread, this week she would pick the bread.  She loves having a slice for a snack and only wants to eat it plain.  I tried putting peanut butter and jam on it and ended up getting the stink eye from her.  The funny thing is that I was the same growing up.  I loved eating the soft bread slices plain too!  It makes me smile finding out she has one of my little quirks!

Likes: It's made with whole wheat and barley flour, contains 2% or less of sugar, the slices are soft and don't taste grainy, only 40 calories a slice, price range is from  $2.29-$2.49.
Dislikes: none yet, I have to see if it's available at most supermarkets or just a select few.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pile O' Crap

I'm haven't had the opportunity to blog in awhile and I missed it.  So here I am to tell everyone that I'm still alive. I've written in the past of our pending move and the next thing I know it's here.  The movers will be here either Thursday or Friday to start packing our stuff and by Monday our house should be empty.  This past week it hit me how much I have to do to get ready for this move and how little I'v already done.  I'm running on panic mode going through drawers and cabinets trying to organize.  It amazes me every time we have to relocate how much crap we accumulate.  You never notice all the little nick knacks that find their way into your home until you have to sort it all out.  I'm finding random kid's meals toys, pens, pencils, containers without lids, lids without containers, or things I thought I'd use one day that I never did.  I even found fully packed boxes from our last move that we never unpacked, in 3 years.  So, in the next few days I'm going through a major overhaul to rid our  house of things we don't need or use before we move.  If you don't hear from me I'm probably under a pile of junk and digging my way out.

Labels, labels everywhere!

A guest post by Amanda Lehrman from The Momma Files.
Amanda Lehrman has a background in education and is a mother to her son Jack.  This is her final post in the September Education Series as a  guest writer for Mama Tales.

With the various spelling strategies taught in school, many parents struggle with which one to use at home. Some of you tell your child to sound out the word, some say to look it up in the dictionary or refer to spell check on the computer. I believe that a combination of these strategies can be used, often depending on your individual child. The one universal piece of advice I have is to let each child explore his or her surroundings and come to a conclusion on his or her own.

This spelling tip will allow them to do just that. It can be used for children of all ages; it will just need to be adapted based on the grade level. It may sound strange but it is a tactic that I used in my Kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms that worked tremendously well. It is also a suggestion I made to the upper elementary, middle and high school teachers I worked with after teaching in the classroom. I/we labeled our classroom and you are going to label your house! Yes, label your house. Everything in it. The doors, the food, the refrigerator, the toilets, the televisions, etc.

Sound weird? Let me explain. When my students entered their classroom the first few days, everything was new. We wrote and drew a lot at the beginning of the year and there were so many questions of, “how do you spell this?” and “how do you spell that?” We hadn’t learned all of the sounding out strategies yet, they didn’t know how to use a dictionary or a word wall, much less spell check on a computer, and so what was I to do? Everyone got a bunch of index cards and tape and we started labeling. However they thought a word should be spelled, that’s how it went up on the index card. The only way it was corrected was when someone realized that a word was spelled differently. This happened when we were reading together, when they were reading alone, when someone saw a sign for the word “shelves” and realized that our class spelling was incorrect. We would cross out, never erase, the incorrect spelling and write the correct version underneath. Gradually, my students became aware of their surroundings and started to notice words and the patterns that they followed. They took an interest in how words were spelled and why certain combinations of letters created
certain sounds. It was the most successful way to have them take ownership of their own learning. One by one, week by week, all of the words in our classroom were labeled correctly and they remained posted around the room for the entire school year. They used these index cards as reference points and before they knew it, they did not need the index card; they had committed the correct spelling to memory. Mission accomplished.

The same can be done around your home. It is a fun way to incorporate spelling into your child’s life, outside of the classroom setting. If your child is younger, you can start with simple words such as bed, light and door. Even if the index card just has a b on it, that is a great start. If they want to draw a picture of a bed or find a picture of a bed in a magazine and use that, go with it. Any interest is a genuine one. Foster and encourage it.

If your child is older or you want to challenge them, you can add words such as television, refrigerator and staircase. Perhaps they will be on an educational website, see the spelling of mirror and realize that the spelling looks different from how it was spelled on the index card on your bathroom mirror. Maybe they will see a sign for apricots in the supermarket and realize the correct spelling of the word. It will happen in random locations, at random times but having your child understand the importance of spelling and realize the feeling of accomplishment will never be random. It will be priceless! Try it out and let me know how it goes!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Writing starts with W!

The third guest post in the September series by Amanda Lehrman from The Momma Files.
Amanda Lehrman has a background in education and is a mother to her son Jack.  Please check back here next Monday for her last post of the September series on tips to prepare your little ones for school.

Writing is funny.  There are so many rules to follow, lines to stay in and utensils to use.  It's all very technical, especially to a child.  In my opinion, it is too technical.  By the time we get through the rules and such, the creativity is gone.  Shouldn't we foster this creativity first and then introduce the rules later?

Photo credit
Children preschool age and below should be writing from the time they can put a writing utensil (sans permanent marker!) to a piece of paper.  Just like with reading, it will not be in conventional sense in which we are accustomed.  It will be a dot here and a line there.  There will be no rhyme or reason but they will be introduced to the concept of putting the pencil or crayon to the paper and making something of their own.  We do with with my 1 year old son.  We have him hold a pencil and help him move it around when we sign birthday cards, etc.  Hand these drawings up on the refrigerator or create a "gallery" of artwork/writing pieces from your child on the wall (painters tape does not peel paint).  The earlier we celebrate their hard work and creative side, the more comfortable they will feel expressing themselves through art or writing.

After the initial phase, your child will most likely learn to sit with a writing utensil, draw pictures and "write".  When this begins, have a special place for their materials.  We call this a "Writing Station" in my classroom; adopt this at home.  Have a bin for different types of paper; construction, computer, lined paper included.  Allow them to use all of these choices and tell them the actual names of the paper to help them identify what they want.  In addition, have different writing utensils in soup cans, coffee cans or shoe boxes for easy accessibility.  Pencils, crayons, water color paint, chalk, colored pencils and markers (if your are brave!) should all be introduced as different mediums.  Challenge your child to mix and explore mediums.  Suggest creating a pencil and water color picture or draw with chalk on a dark colored piece of paper.  These creations can include pictures, words, stickers and any other form of decoration they like.

At first, you may not know what their pictures resemble.  This is OK.  Ask them to describe what they drew. If they are curious on hot to draw something such as an animal, find a picture either in a book or on the computer and show them.  They will also become interested in learning how to write their names.  They will probably ask you how to spell it.  Spell the name out loud and based on readiness level, write the letters and have them trace over them or write the letters and have them copy underneath your writing.  Do no stress over backwards letters (ie: B and D).  This is normal.  Their name is one of the first things children learn to write and spell correctly.  It will be a hug accomplishment for them!

As children get older, their pictures and writing will become more legible.  You will know that the picture is either of a cow or a rhinoceros.  You may not be sure which, but it's narrowed down to one of those!  A helpful hint done with my Kindergartners was labeling their pictures.  Even if the words were spelled totally wrong and the letters mixed up, it was an introduction to writing.  I modeled by showing them an example of a labeled picture (a house scene with grass, flowers, tress, a plane flying overhead, a sun shining, etc).  I drew a line next to each picture and wrote the word.  Have them create a picture and draw lines next to each word.  They should explore with forming letters and deciding which ones they think spell out each word.  Writing is also great for honing a child's fine motor skills.

There is a time and place for learning the rules of writing.  Once school begins, these will come into place for children.  They have time to explore before these technical aspects arrive.  Foster this independent exploration and show them that it is OK to create without rules, lines or dangling participles.  :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Izzy's Bday - Part 2

I finally have a moment to finish blogging about Izzy's bday.  The party was themed after her favorite character, Dora a Explorer.  We had Dora plates, napkins, table covers, a wall sized poster, party favors, and Dora episodes playing in the background.  I am sure this won't be our only character themed party in the future but it was cute having one for the first time.  One of Izzy's godparents, Cindy does professional baking on the side and she's made some amazing cakes and cupcakes.  I was so happy that she agreed to make some for Izzy's birthday and I couldn't wait to see what she came up with.  They turned out great!  So many of my family members asked where we got the cupcakes from.  She had the characters Dora, the backpack and the map on chocolate and vanilla cupcakes.

As the guests started arriving initially she was a little shy but started warming up to all the kids there.  Her cousins Nate, Andrew and Abby showed up as well as her buddies Piper and Keeley.   I just love how Piper runs up and kisses Izzy every time she sees her.  Piper was even giving Maddie lots of hugs too!  She also made some new friends, Maddie, Miles and Jayden.  I wasn't able to take as many pictures as I would have liked but I'm happy that Izzy had so much fun.  Every time I looked over she was smiling and laughing with the other kids or sharing special moments with her grandma.

It was funny watching her eat her birthday cupcake.  I hardly give her sweets like this at home and after the first bite she was shoveling cupcake into her mouth with both hands.  She had crumbs all over her face and dress but she was a happy camper that's for sure!  When it came time for the gifts it took her a little bit to get over being the center of attention for 25+ people but she soon figured out all the bright packages where for her.  My funny little girl wanted to try on every outfit and would hold out her arms for each dress.

All in all I think the party was a success!  Thank you to all our friends and family for sharing our special day with us.  Happy second birthday to my little girl!

Nut up or Shut Up!

Hello mamas! I'm ending my first week with Insanity strong. I'm proud to say that I finished six straight days of really intense cardio workouts straight without missing a day. I feel great! This program is no joke. I haven't been able to complete the entire workout at the intensity or speed that the people on the video do but I see improvement. I'm able to do more each day without pressing pause on the DVD or having the feeling of nausea like I did the first day.

I have been eating much better too. Before we ate out at least one meal each day but now my favorite meal is a salad of mixed greens with shredded cheese, almond slices, canned salmon and vinaigrette dressing. I really like the Shakeology for breakfast with 1tbsp of peanut butter, 1 cup of strawberries and a cup of water. Yummy!

The scale went from a loss of 2 pounds to 1 pounds in the first week but I'm holding more water weight this week. Aunt Flow came for a visit. I won't do new measurements until day 15 but my flabs aren't as thick? Haha!

So far, I feel good and I want this to work. Wish me luck that I'll stick to it and reach my pre-wedding weight. My last workout for the week is the circuit training that I WILL do after the baby's asleep. It's time to Nut Up or Shut Up!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Finding " Me" Again

A guest post by Laura, a fellow team mate on Team Insane Xers.  Team Insane Xers is a support group for BeachBody programs like Insanity and is lead by our coach Heather Foltz.  Laura is here to share her fitness story and to show other moms that it CAN be done.

My name is Laura, and I’m a mother of three teenage boys, one in college, one in high school, and one in middle school.  I was always the little one of all my friends, short and petite.  “Little Laura” was my nickname.  Then once I had my boys, I just really put on the weight.  I went from 107 pounds to 165 pounds at my heaviest.  All of a sudden, I was this fat girl.  I was tired of being heavy and feeling ugly.  I didn’t enjoy shopping for clothes or going out because I didn’t like how I looked in anything.  I hid from the camera on holidays and during family vacations. 

I decided this last Christmas, after my husband bought me my new Weight Watchers scale, that this year was going to be the year I found myself again.  I decided I need to really focus and stay true to my goals and not let people discourage me or become “diet saboteurs.” 

I had the Power 90 and P90X program from BeachBody, and I had started both of them in the past, but hadn’t completed them.  So I joined Weight Watchers at work, and I started with Power 90.  The weight began to fall off, and after three months, I’d lost about 20 pounds, and I was really starting to feel good.

This is always where the diet saboteurs come into play.  Most of the people I work with had never seen the real me.  They had no idea how tiny I really am.  The kept telling me, “You need to stop losing weight.  You look fine.  You’re getting too skinny.”   This time, I didn't listen.   I knew what I wanted to look like in a bikini, and I wasn't going to let anyone deter me.

I started P90X in July, and I’m on my 57th day of a 90-day program, and I’m about 5-10 pounds away from my goal, or putting it in inches, about 1 more inch to lose from around my waist.  To date, I've lost 42 pounds, 5 inches from my waist, 6 inches from my hips, 4.5 inches around my bust, (oh well), 3 inches around my arms, 4.5 inches from thighs, and I've dropped 6 dress sizes, from a 12 to a 2.  I can’t wait to take my measurements in 4 weeks to see the final result. 

I've met some great people through Heather Foltz, my BeachBody coach.  I love her!!  She’s inspired me to realize that I can do more.  I don’t have to stop here.  I will rock that bikini when I go on my Caribbean cruise this next spring, and I can’t wait!! Heather also encouraged me to try Shakeology, and I’ve seen a significant weight loss and change in my body within the last few weeks since I started drinking Shakeology, which I love!  It’s so delicious, and I love the fact that I’m getting all the important vegetable and fruit servings that I need without having to eat icky veggies.  I have found that I have more energy too, and I really feel good!

It's been a long, slow process. and it hasn't been easy, but it's been worth it!  I'm happy!!  If you're ready for a life change and ready to work hard, join us.  We have a huge group ready to support you and answer your questions  and be there for you.  You won't be disappointed!!  Contact Heather Foltz at her email,

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Here We Go Again!

Morning mamas!  If you've been following my blog you've read some of my attempts at getting back into shape post baby.  Back in July I started up with Stroller Strides which is a local group of moms that work out at the park with their babies.  I was only able to stick with it for a few weeks until I injured my knee, BAD!  I gave myself a few weeks off to give my knee time to heal.  Now, I was in the position where I wanted to start up my workout out again with only a few weeks left before I moved.  I didn't want to start and stop during the move for fear that I would loose the determination to continue.  It also left the problem of finding a workout group in near my new house.

For any of you that sneak in late night TV, I know you've seen the Insanity commercials.  After my hubby's 36th birthday he came home with the DVD set and wanted us to get back into shape as a family.  I did my research, read other peoples results and even watched some You Tube videos about it.  He was committed so I felt that this time we'd go all the way.  I also included some other products from BeachBody like the recovery formula and Shakeology.  I just started so I'll be sure to include you in my progress.  What I love right now is that I was paired with a coach and a team to help motivate me.  I even took (shudder) before photos that I have under lock and key that I'll post with my after photos.  Wish my luck mamas!  I'm praying that this one will be "The One"!

Bye Bye Belly Pooch!

A guest post by Heather Foltz, a SAHM with two boys and my personal BeachBody coach for the Insanity workout program.

I am sitting here thinking back to the beginning of my journey with fitness and nutrition.  As I sit here, I'm laughing and thinking that I never really had a beginning.  To be honest, it has always been a way of life to work out.  But the nutrition part... yea, still working on that!

I have been an exercise junkie for years.  I always went to the gym and took every class they had to offer.  I loved a new challenge.  I worked out out during both my pregnancies and even went to spin class the day I went into labor with my 1st.  The same thing happened with the 2nd one, I went to boot camp class the day I went into labor.  My nickname is BOSS, well deserved if you ask me.

Now here is where my "real journey" began.  After having my 2nd son, Rylan, I realized that I wasn't going to have the time to get to the gym everyday or the money to keep spending on a $75/month Lifetime membership.  So a friend of mine who is a BeachBody coach, convinced me to try out one of their programs, Insanity.  I also realized that my lower belly pooch was not going to go away as easy this time around.  So I quit the gym and started Insanity in hopes to loose the pooch and save money!

I thought I would have no problem with it since I have been working out forever.  Boy was I WRONG!!  It was intense and just what I needed.  I LOVED the program!  Couldn't get enough of it!  So after a few weeks I started to notice small changes in my arms, legs and belly.  I knew I needed to change up my diet to help with my belly fat.  Diet is 80% of the results, you know!  So my friend suggested pairing Shakeology, a healthy meal replacement shake with over 70 vitamins in nutrients that you can't find anywhere else.  So I thought, why not and see what it does.  I have to say it was the BEST investment ever!  Withing 2 weeks I had so much more energy.  I definitely needed it to chase after two young kids!  I also wasn't craving junk food anymore and lost 2 pounds!

I was so excited to share my results and these wonderful programs that I signed on to become a coach.  Since becoming a BeachBody coach, I have completed a round of Insanity, Insanity the Asylum, and now I'm doing a P90X/Insanity/Asylum hybrid while drinking my Shakeology EVERY DAY gearing up for P90X2!  I have lost a totaly of 10lbs and my arms, legs, belly and glutes are so toned!  I LOVE MY LIFE!!  I have helped hundreds of people already.  I would be happy to help YOU with your goals or have YOU join me to help others reach their fitness goals.

You can find out more information by emailing me at  Whether you want to loose weight, tone, or be a coach yourself, I can help you!  Please visit my BeachBody site to join for free and join my team of success!  Learn more about Shakeology or see my review.  I look forward to hearing on how I can help you or how we can help others.

Izzy's B-Day Part 1

This past weekend has been a little crazy.  Our little girl turned TWO on Saturday and planning her birthday party was a mixture of joy and stress.  I didn't want the craziness of her first birthday to become a recurring theme but I also wanted her to feel like it was a special day.  Last year we held it at our home in Santee with over 40 guests.  It was extremely hot and we didn't have enough room for seating.  It's just felt crowded and rushed.

So this year I asked my mom if I could borrow the use of her house.  My BIL is here visiting and he took over the BBQ for chicken, ribs and tri-tip.  He is an excellent cook and through the years I've asked him how to make a few dishes.  My dish, chicken adobo I learned how to make it from him.

We were running late to get the preparations under way.  Izzy fell asleep on the ride to my mom's and I wanted to keep her asleep so she wouldn't be cranky during the party.  Between the transfer and my parent's dog she woke up prematurely and upset for the interruption.  Luckily, the house was clean and I just needed to decorate, put the treat bags together and cook the adobo.  Our guests didn't arrive until almost an hour after the invitation so we were good.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What Ways Do You Save?

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Reading Starts With R!

The second guest post in the September series by Amanda Lehrman from The Momma Files.
Amanda Lehrman has a background in education and is a mother to her son Jack.  Please check back here for more educational tips to prepare your little ones for school.

Reading is a skill that starts before the days of school.  It begins with babies recognizing pictures in a book and progresses naturally as that child gets older.  My son has a book of first works that was introduced to him when he was a few weeks old.  He knows this book as well as he know us.  For a child who is extremely active and mobile, he will sit still and point to the pictures when we read to him.  The earlier parents begin exposing children to literature and literacy, the more beneficial it will be for those sons and daughters.

If your child is in pre-school or day care they are most likely "reading" every day.  They look at signs in their classroom, they recognize their name on a chair or a cubby and they look at books.  They are reading.  It may not be in the conventional way that we picture it but it is most definitely reading.

If your child is not in a school environment yet, there are plenty of things to do to expose your child to these skills.  Continue reading books every day.  Repeat their favorites as many times as they request.  You may start to notice that they anticipate the next page.  Foster this as much as you can.  Ask them questions about the following pages.  What character will we see next?  What happens to Elmo on the next page?  Even though they cannot read the words, they know exactly what is going on in the book.

Take it a step further and try introducing pattern books.  Many of these books have the same sentence on each page, aside from the last word.  For example, a book can read, "The bear is big", "the bear is brown", " the bear is little" etc.  Even if your child cannot read the words. they will read the book through the pictures.  They will know which description word comes next.  If you think they are ready, introduce questions such as "where is the word brown on this page?" or "What letter does bear begin with"?

It is never too early to introduce children to reading.  They are sponges, taking in everything, even if they cannot verbally express what they are learning.  Give them the chance to amaze you; expose them to literacy early on and you will be pleasantly surprised to see what they can do!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Do You Like Smoothies?

Right around the my hubby's 36th birthday he started talking about getting into shape as a family.  Well, in our case it was getting back into shape.  We've been talking more and more lately about how much weight we've gained since we were married six years ago.  I'll be honest, I'm 25 pounds heavier since I got married and had a baby.  Not to mention, having a baby doesn't make the new weight distribution pretty.

I've tried a few ways to get back into shape since having the baby and most of them haven't worked.  They didn't work for the simple fact that I didn't stick to it for one reason or another.  This time around my hubby is committed with me.  At least he's willing to stay on board with the diet modification.  One of the ways we're getting back into shape is through Shakeology.  It's a TASTY nutritious meal replacement and it will help you loose weight.

My hubby got the BlenderBottle by Sundesa with this little metal ball that you put in the cup.  After shaking it up it's not clumpy or gritty.  He didn't spend the money to buy me a cup, oh no! The cup he got for me was a freebie for spending over a certain amount when he bought a protein tub.  I would not have paid for that cup.  The grid on the top falls out of the hole and gets lodged on the side of the cup.  So what I get is this clumpy mess that feels like sand.  I've ended up dumping out two shakes because of it.  I want my own BlenderBottle by Sundesa and I'm trying to enter today's BzzCampaign at BzzAgent to get one.  

Do you love making shakes but not cleaning up the huge blenders?  Then help me spread the word about BzzAgent and the BlenderBottle by Sundesa.

Don't Check Out of Parenting

My sister and I took the kids over to Play Town to let the kids get in some fun and burn off energy.  Play Town is a local business that caterers to families with children under the age of 5.  It's a large room filled with activities. You can find a inflatable jumpers, slides, mini roller coasters, a playhouse, toy cars, bikes, etc.  I think Play Town and other businesses like it are GREAT!  It gives parents, like me, a chance to let their child play in an air conditioned and safe place with equipment that typical families wouldn't spend their money on.  These places also give our children the opportunity to socialize with other kids around their age or observe ones that are older.

However, and that is a BIG however, these places ARE NOT DAY CARE CENTERS!  My biggest pet peeve are the parents that bring their children to these places and then checkout of parenting.  They are the ones that are on their cell phones, reading, on their lap tops, or engrossed in a conversation and hardly even look up to see what their child is doing.  I'm not saying that they can't do those things but they still need to parent.  Moms/Dads you still need to watch your child's behavior.  You still need to intervene when they are being rude, pushy or otherwise acting up.

Now that I'm done ranting, let me explain.  As I was saying my sister and I headed over to Play Town with the kiddies in tow.  The place was PACKED!  There had to have been at least 35 kids of all ages running amok. We were there for about 10 minutes when a boy ran a bike into Izzy's foot while horsing around.  Yes, I was PISSED and yes, I corrected him.  Did I see the parents?  NEGATIVE.

Forty-five minutes later another boy was kicking a beach ball around HARD.  I personally saw him hit 2 other kids in the head with it and he also kicked the ball right into my 8 month pregnant sister's stomach.  As before I corrected him and asked him not to kick the ball indoors.  I never saw the mom. About 15 minutes later that same boy was still kicking the ball dangerously close to Izzy.  I told him "Please don't kick the ball indoors, someone can get hurt."  I don't know if he's ever been corrected before but he started to cry.  I asked him where his mommy was and it turns out she was a few feet away and not once corrected his behavior.  She gave me a dirty look as she swept him up in her arms.  Look lady, if your child runs amok and is or will hurt Izzy I have no problem correcting them.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Who's That Crazy Lady?

Have you ever noticed that you are more willing to do things you wouldn't have been caught dead doing before having kids?  I am so there right now.  Izzy and I were out and about most of the morning.  I had to take her to the pediatrician for a wellness checkup and then run errands afterwards.  Towards the end of our trip we were waiting at the red light around lunch time.  Izzy was getting a little fussy so I broke out singing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider".  She loves that song and will usually join in with me.  I also get into the hand motions and sway side to side to get her involved in the song without much thought to how I look doing it.

While singing I glanced over to my left and find myself looking straight into the eyes of the passenger in the next car... laughing hysterically.  I didn't think I looked THAT bad but I'm sure I either looked crazy or good for a chuckle.  This guy, however, was laughing hysterically.  I'll admit, I felt a twinge of heat rushing to my cheeks.  After a second I thought WTH.  Izzy's happy again, I avoided a blow up and I made someone else's day better with a laugh.

So if you're driving along minding your own business and just happen to see a woman singing, dancing or generally making a fool of herself.  That woman probably has a child or two in the backseat that she's trying to keep entertained for the remained of the car ride.  So be kind and snicker looking the other way.  Thank you and have a nice day.  That is all.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sharing Precious Moments

Copyright National Geographic
One of my treasured memories growing up, was when I watched National Geographic with my dad. I remember sitting with him as a little girl watching programs about lions, sharks and well, the world. I believe those precious moments impacted the very core of my personality. They taught me to respect the wild and developed my ability to empathize with animals, nature and other people.

I loved all kinds of nature programming even though they didn't offer silly songs or dancing cartoon characters. Actually, in most nature shows the speaker's voice is more on the boring side. Picture the teacher's voice in Ferris Buller's Day Off.

Copyright National Geographic
Why bring this up? This memory is so dear to me that I decided to share that experience with Izzy. I chose kid friendly programs and I was able to turn it into a vocabulary lesson. I pointed out animals like birds, elephants, lions, and pigs during the show. I was then able to tie in words she hears at home like "Do you see the pig sleeping?" Afterwards instead of reading the story in her books, I pointed to drawn versions of the animals on the show. These days, she would rather point out to objects to name than listen to the whole story.

My hope is that she learns to love and respect nature and all the creatures in it like I did. Did you share something with your child that your mom or dad shared with you growing up?

Monday, September 5, 2011

ABC, Easy as 123

A guest post by Amanda Lehrman from The Momma Files.
Amanda Lehrman has a background in education and is a mother to her son Jack.  She will be a guest writer for Mama Tales during the month of September on Mondays.  Please check back here for more educational tips to prepare your little ones for school.

From a very young age, children notice everything; planes, lights, signs, pictures. Parents should take advantage of this opportunity to expose their children to everything educational, especially letters and numbers. These are found everywhere, especially on educational toys. However, sometimes they are not an interactive part of the toy. Many of these toys have letters and numbers ingrained in the plastic. Take your child’s finger and trace them. Repeat them as you do this. Make this part of the toy as exciting as the light up buttons and talking animals.

Using different textures is a good way to teach children. Becoming familiar with the feel of letters and numbers will help them recognize and eventually write them. Set up a touch and feel letter/number poster in your house. A few pieces of poster board will work perfectly. Have each letter/number cut and displayed in a few different textures. Sandpaper is a great choice, as well as cotton balls, pasta and glitter. Run your child’s finger over the textured letter/number cutouts and repeat the name as you do this.

A favorite texture to use is sand. If you live near a beach, take advantage of the end of the summer by drawing letters in the sand. Write your child’s name in the sand and have them trace your writing. For indoor sand use, take a bowl of sand (you can find sand at hardware or craft stores) and have them draw letters/numbers and repeat the name of each one. If your child is ready, you can write their name and have them trace it with their finger, a pencil or a crayon. To make this more interactive, play a game where you call out a letter or number and they record it on a piece of paper.

Another simple way to work on letter and number concepts is to use your everyday life. You can count toys as you clean up, count fingers and toes on your child as you get them dressed, count the plates as you set the table. Have your children help you do these tasks and count out loud. Even if they begin with saying, 1, 2, 10, they are aware that numbers are ordered; the correct pattern will follow. Repeat the numbers and say the alphabet, even when you do not think they are paying attention. Show them the numbers on a clock, the microwave, the cable box. Highlight the letters on the refrigerator, in books, on the computer. Children listen to everything, they hang on our words. If you say something enough, they will begin to repeat.

Singing is a way to introduce and reinforce the alphabet and numbers. From a very early age, children, even babies, recognize songs. Even though they may not know what you are saying initially, it will become a familiar tune and eventually, they will start to repeat the song. There are many tapes and CDs with educational songs. Play them at home and when you are in your car. Consistently exposing them to important concepts will lead to recognition and understanding.

Remember that children are sponges; they soak up everything around them. Make learning fun for them. Make them feel like they are discovering something brand new to the world; even though it may only be brand new to them. Celebrating their efforts and praising their successes will encourage them to keep learning and keep discovering.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

DIY Felt Family Project

A guest post by Anastasia Irvine from Motherhood: Deconstructed.
Ana is a married stay-at-home mom to two beautiful girls. If you’d like to read more from Ana, you can find her blogging here, on Facebook, and Twitter too!

DIY Felt Family Project
Ever notice that young kids are more interested in the box that their toys come in then the toy itself? It’s easy to spend way too much money on high-tech, overly-priced toys to keep our little ones entertained.  When I think about my favorite toys, they were the ones that were simple and basic. The things that employed my naturally abundant imagination were the ones that made the greatest impact- and they just happen to be the cheapest!  One day at our local library’s story time the librarian played/sung "Flip-Flap Jack" a game that used felt cut-outs and a felt board. My daughter, along with the other children (ages 1-5) loved it so much and was overjoyed to reach her turn on the board. It sparked my Idea for good old fashion felt dolls, complete with a playground, bedding, clothes and anything else that strikes our fancy. It is easy, fun, affordable and a healthy imagination exercising game that is a huge hit with the kids! 

Here is what you need:
  1. Felt in as many colors as you like
  2. Sheet of paper
  3. Cardboard or canvas board
  4. Scissors
  5. Tacky glue
  6. Pen
  7. Optional- markers, google eyes, fun fabric glues & glitter, embroidering thread to decorate
Here’s how to make the people and clothes. I like to make the parents, an older kid and a baby. Also draw on a rough estimate of clothing on the template, like a dress outline, pants or shirt.:
Draw a template on a piece of paper for your felt family. Then trace on to felt of your choice
Cut out and draw in features (glue on eyeballs if not drawing them in)
After using the template for the family, cut off the head, feet, arm parts to leave only the clothing outline- this is your clothes template.
Trace clothing template on felt in many colors then cut out and decorate with your kids!

Making felt background and scenes:
  1. Measure out enough felt to cover the board (cardboard or canvas, recycle whatever you have) and overlap the back by an inch or so
  2. Glue around the edges on the back of the board.
  3. Wrap the felt around the front and pull extra fabric tight around the back. Press down to glue and allow time to dry (30min to an hour)
  4. Draw out tree trunks, tree tops, bushes, flowers, clouds, slides, swings, beds, etc. and cut them for removable scenery 
Finished Product

    Saturday, September 3, 2011

    Random Toys

    Personally, I think today's toys do too much.  Walking through the aisles at the toys store most of the toys I see are battery operated and play music or make some sort of sound.  When I was a kid, the toys we had made us use our imagination.  They didn't do anything special unless we invented a story ourselves.  As a parent, I try to balance the "old school" toys with the "new school" toys.  The ironic thing is that at her age she easily grows tired of them.

    This morning I found a great toy accidentally.  A package arrived with a strip of packing bubbles.  I laid the strip down on the floor and she's been playing tea party on it for the past 20 minutes.  Or she'll run up and down the strip screaming.  She's not heavy enough to make them pop but I think she likes the texture under her feet.  Hey, I'm a mom on a budget.  If I can find something that peaks her interest and saves my wallet I'm all for it.  What about you?  Did you stubble upon a random household item that your kids went gaga for?  Join in on the conversation.

    Discipline for Toddlers

    Yesterday, a friend of mine posted to her Facebook "As a stay at home mom there are a few days I want to scream 'I don't want to do this sh#@ no more!!!  That would be today.'"  I could feel the frustration she was feeling by her words.  I am confident I can say that all moms have been there at least once during their time as a parent.  Even with the love we feel for our children there are times when the battle of wills becomes too much and our frustration overwhelms us.

    This is especially true during toddlerhood.  My daughter tests her limits and mine on a daily basis.  At some moments it's repeating an action I don't want her to do.  Other times she's unable to deal with her own anger or frustration which results in a temper tantrum of epic proportions.  At home, the tantrums are easier to deal with the ones out in public.  I try my best not to be that mom with the out of control child.  You know the ones I'm talking about.

    The question I pose to you is what are your methods of dealing with discipline?  I found an article at Baby Center about successful discipline strategies for every age.  Have you ever tried these?  Do they work for you?  Join in on the conversation.
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