Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ideas for Busy Toddlers

The timing of this post could not be more appropriate for many of us in the North, Midwest and East who are experiencing a harsh winter.  

Our area of the country is currently on the second round of snow days in 2014. This has made for a lot of happy kids : ) with extra time at home. Which, although many parents may be happy too, the extra time at home may cause some scrambling for ideas.

I often get asked how we homeschool with two toddlers in our house and how we are able to "get anything done."  Although the original idea of post was focused on keeping toddlers busy/productive while homeschooling older children, these ideas are obviously appropriate for toddlers at home in any situation.

Below are some of the activities that keep our toddlers occupied while I'm working with the older girls on their school work.  These activities also help build various skills such as fine motor skills, sorting, numbers, colors, patterns.  These are also great ways to help build focus and concentration etc. 

Sorting: This is a homemade activity.  We use a ice tray from Target dollar bin, fuzzy pom poms (also from that bin) and toaster tongs that we found at Bed, Bath and Beyond.



(And yes, friends, we do school in our bathing suits in the middle of winter. Don't you?! ha ha)

 Magnets: Orb Factory Magnetic Color Cubes mosaics a great one for building colorful pictures and patterns.  you can even use a clean baking sheet to make this mobile. (Be careful with younger toddlers and young children who tend to think all things are edible as these contain small pieces.)

                                                    Orb Factory Magnetic Color Cubes


                                                      Wooden Beads



                                                 Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wire Puzzle Rack

And yes, there are days when these activities get thrown to the wind...

 ...and this happens. : )

...and this!

...and this!
All while mommy and big sisters are engrossed in schoolwork. : )

Last, but not least, these cuties love doing their "big girl" work in tot school just like their older sisters and we attempt to work on tracing, letter recognition, colors, numbers, Spanish, calendar etc. 

What are some ways that you keep your toddler(s) busy and learning at home outside of time for free/imaginative play?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

28 Day Detox Challenge Update : Week 2

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Last week, I posted about my reasons for starting this 28 Day Challenge and my experiences/results so far.  So appropriately, I wanted to share my week 2 findings with you, as well. Here's where I'm at:

  • Energy: My energy levels are up this week. Work outs were easier than last week. My body is adjusting to the detoxification process. The B vitamins in the all natural Fizz Sticks drinks have been the missing link in my vegetarian diet over the years.  I have not been very good at supplementing those and I can tell a difference now!
  • Digestive/GI: Major bloating and abdominal pain (that I have had checked out various times - long story) has almost completely resolved.  Most likely due to eliminating toxic foods and drinks and adding nutritional and safe supplements such as the Arbonne's Digestive Plus (pro/prebiotics & digestive enzymes).
  • Joint Pain: Still feeling great and literally having no joint pain. Even my lower back pain seems to have resolved. This is CRAZY to me! It's most likely due to eliminating foods that cause inflammation?! Made it through an intense cardio kickbox class which usually kills my knees.
  • Learning: Still enjoying all the new clean eating recipes (Eggplant "Pizzas" tonight, yum!) I'm also learning about new ingredients to add to our clean eating pantry.  Finally, I'm learning that this is very possible with the right mindset.  
  • Cravings:  Week 2 was a bit more intense in this area.  So many people sipping coffee around me and eating yummy toxic foods has been a bit tempting at times.  I'm staying strong, however, because I know how great I feel and I know the benefits from staying disciplined in this. 
  • Weight/inches: Down almost 6 lbs. and 3 inches as a bonus.  This was not my main goal for doing this detox, but I will definitely take this added benefit post 5 pregnancies. (My babies were worth every pound ; ) I wanted to focus more on internal issues/changes, but this kind of change happens from the inside out and I'm definitely OK with that : )

This is not to take place of or act as medical advice.  Please consult your physician for any nutritional plans or diets. These are my personal and true experiences.  I am an Independent Consultant (ID # 14414570) for Arbonne. Check out Arbonne and/or order (ID #14414570).

28 Day Detox groups start every other monday.  Leave a comment if you'd like more info.  You are worth this!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Kids and the Bible

Our faith is the foundation of our lives and our family.  It is our hearts' desire that our kids develop a love for God and his Word....at even a younger age than we did.

We don't want to our kids to view the Bible as a book of rules or stop at memorizing the names of the 66 books. As Jefferson Bethke says, "The Bible is not a rule book, it's a love letter."

We want the Bible/Word of God to be:

a lamp unto their feet and a light unto their path (Psalm 119:105)
their well of living water (John 7:38)
their daily bread, their bread of life (John 6:48)
their comfort in times of brokenness (Psalm 34:18)
the mercy they need in failure (Lamentations 3:22-23)
their strength in times of weakness (2 Cor. 12:9)
their help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16)
their source for character transformation (Romans 12:2)
....and SO much more!

So that our children may be:

pure in heart (Matthew 5:8)
strong and courageous (Deuteronomy 31:6)
 compassionate, humble, patient and kind (Colossians 3:12)
trees planted by the water and yields fruit (Psalm 1:3)
women who fear the Lord (Proverbs 31:30)
loving - doing ALL things in love (1 Corinthians 13)

In order for these things to become part of the very breath they breathe. In order for the living breathing Word of God to help form and transform their daily habits and character, it takes time and intention.  This is not something we can cram in 1 hour on Sundays.

Developing a passion and understanding for God's Word comes by reading, discussing, praying, understanding, singing and memorizing and meditating on the Scriptures.  And we, as their parents have the great responsibility to lead them in this journey. 

I wanted to share some of our family's favorite resources that make learning and understanding the Bible fun and simple:

(These are Bible verses made into songs. Catchy tunes help make learning the verses SO easy peasy.)

Other helpful resources/links:

The girls LOVE this song by Phil Joel (former Newsboys member). It's the Old Testament song a.k.a Ice Cream Song) Check it out here. We jam to this in our car : ) Who ever would of thought you could jam to the books of the Old Testament?! 

Daily Audio Bible Kids - an audio daily Bible reading for kids (and adults)

Awanas - an international program that works with churches and parents to develop spiritually strong children

I hope this post has helped inspire some to become intentional in leading children in the greatest "job" we'll ever have on earth - discipleship.

What are some fun and helpful ways that you have implemented Scripture into your daily lives and time with your kids?  We'd love to hear.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

28 Day Detox Challenge Update - Week 1

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Week 1 Down!  Woo hoo!

Rewind one year :
Last year, our family began a journey towards cleaner eating and living. 

There is a long version of this story (which I'll save for another post), but I'm going to cut to the chase in an attempt to stay on point.

For many years, I was making a lot of good choices - working out regularly, teaching fitness classes, remaining a vegetarian (which choice I made at the age of 8), and eating foods that I thought were healthy for my body and feeding my family the same.

I recently found out that a lot of those nutritional choices were not as nutritious and beneficial as I thought.  In fact, they were harming my body, which manifested in various health concerns. In a nutshell, I found out that there were some things happening in my body that I wanted to turn around. 

My husband and I decided to get informed and make changes.  Informed on how to reduce exposure to toxins, prevent cancer, gain energy, and remove toxins the natural way and make changes in the foods we were eating and the products we were using.

We watched documentaries, read books and articles and learned a LOT of things in a short amount of time.  I was determined to find out so many things that I felt my traditional doctors were not telling me or possibly didn't even know.

Fast forward to this year:
I recently found out about the 28 Day Detox/Clean Eating Challenge sponsored by ArbonneI was already a "believer" of this company because of their chemical free skin care line that is amazing!  I trusted that their nutritional products would be just as amazing. I was right.

This was just the next step that I wanted to take in my journey - a more intense level of detoxification and clean eating by removing addictive, acidic and allergenic foods and adding healthy natural supplements and "clean" meals.  

I decided to take the challenge. So, here are my findings after week 1:

  • Joint Pain: The way my joints feel this week compared to before I started are night and day! Oh my gooooooodness.  I have literally cried at times over joint pain. I know a lot was in part to intense workouts and using kickboxing bags over the years, but obviously inflammation from toxic foods was an issue.  Yay, for not feeling twice my age anymore. My knees aren't even cracking as I walk upstairs : )
  • Cravings: I'm doing way better without my coffee/chai lattes than I expected. I thought that the Keurig my husband got me for my birthday would be making me drool, but it's been fine.  I'm enjoying my Arbonne Detox tea just fine.
  • Energy: My energy levels have wavered due to the detoxification process, but the natural energy drinks (Arbonne Fizz Sticks) have helped a lot in that area due to the B vitamins and guarine.  I have been too apprehensive to try energy drinks before now, but these are all natural with no artificial sweeteners, colors or BVOs and work great to give an all natural boost.
  • Supplements: I'm loving the protein shakes.  They are delicious and filling. The Arbonne vegan protein powder is the best I've ever tried and I have tried A LOT of protein powders over the years in an attempt to supplement my vegetarian lifestyle and gain lean muscle from weight training.  Many of those unfortunately contained artificial sweeteners, flavors and soy.  All things I am now trying to avoid.  
  • Learning: I'm enjoying new "clean" recipes that I've been making for dinner.
  • Weight/inches: As a bonus, I've already lost 2lbs (post 5 pregnancy weight) and an inch or so around the middle. 

Looking forward to seeing more positive changes during week 2.  Stay tuned for an update ; )

Have you ever tried a detox?  What changes did you experience?

These comments are my personal and true experiences.  This is not to take place of or act as medical advice. Please consult your physician for any nutritional plans or diets.  I was a client for eight years, but have recently become an Independent Consultant for Arbonne to help others experience their pure, safe and beneficial products.  If you are interested in more information or would like to know how to shop their products for a discount, leave a comment in the comment section. Check out Arbonne and/or order (ID #14414570).

Monday, January 6, 2014

What we're learning: History

This year, for History, we have chosen Abeka History for our fist grader. Although the book is geared towards first grade, we do it as a group.  Our preschooler and "Tot school" girl enjoy learning right along with her.  On occasion, our first grader sometimes reads the lessons for us.  

One of our favorite units in the book,so far, has been about the Symbols of the United States.  

The girls enjoyed learning about many of our famous and internationally recognizable symbols. This is how we made it a bit more hands on:  

I found some printables of the symbols online and printed them for each child.  

The girls then colored and cut out the symbols to make a collage. 

What are you learning this week?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

This year - may you love more, discover your passions to live out your purpose greater than ever before and lead your children to do the same.  

  Wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous new year in 2014 from our family to yours!

3 New Habits to Try in the New Year

1. Try a Detox (physical)

There are sooo many benefits of detoxifying the body.  Dr. Mark Hyman says, "we are living in a sea of toxins and it is destroying our bodies and brains."  They are everywhere - in our skincare, household cleaners, processed foods, GMOs, cosmetics and so on. Ridding of and avoiding as many toxins as possible is a healthy and beneficial thing to do. Here are some tips to help do that.

Simple ways to detox daily or frequently:

  • Drink room temperature/warm water with the juice from 1/2 of a lemon daily
  • Soak in an epsom salt bath (detox through the skin)
  • Sweat - toxins are removed through sweat
  • Stay regular - toxins are also removed through our elimination systems
More dramatic ways to detox:
  • Eat clean - reduce/avoid processed, acidic and addictive foods and GMOs
  • Join me and hundreds of others in the Arbonne 28 day Detox Bootcamp Challenge  (groups start each Monday)
  • Reduce toxins put on/in your body through your skin by using only chemical free skincare (try Arbonne)
  • Use all natural forms of cleaners for the home
*These statements are not meant to give medical advice or prevent, diagnose or treat any disease or illness. Please consult your doctor before beginning any diet or nutritional program.

**I am an Independent Consultant for Arbonne (and loving it).  Please leave a comment in the comment section if you would like more information about the 28 Day Detox/Clean Eating Challenge or Arbonne skin care and nutritional products.

2. Read through the entire Bible (spiritual)

Regardless of where you are in your spiritual journey - maybe you are a long time Christian that has never read through the Bible, maybe you don't even own a Bible or maybe you are a skeptic.  Try reading through the Bible in 2014.  Here are a few of my favorite ways to do that:

This is just as it sounds.  Brian Hardin (in his ever soothing tone) reads daily passages from the Bible from the Old and New Testament and Psalms and Proverbs and ends with a short commentary.

- changes the translation weekly

- you can download the DAB app or listen online
- it's very convenient for those on the go or who absorb more by listening than 

This is one of my favorite ways to read through the Bible.  The daily plan is already laid out for you.  You literally open up to the current date and in 15 minutes +/- you read a portion of the New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. 

The One Year Bible  comes in several different versions 

- after 365 days, you have read the entire Bible 
- the reading plan is done for you - just read

3. Schedule some "unplugged" time each week  

   with with your spouse and/or kids. (relational)

It's no secret that we live in a media saturated culture.  It entertains us, keeps us on schedule, informs us,  keeps us connected and makes life quite convenient in many aspects.  

However, many times we overdo it and become overly dependent on it.  What happened to the days of a good ole' board game and a date over a candle lit dinner staring in each others' eyes rather than the smartphone?!  

  • pull out the board/card games - Uno anyone?!
  • take a walk in the park with your love
  • try a new hobby, sport or volunteer together
Try to make a habit of media free time each week with your loved ones

Check out this 24 hour media free challenge I posted on another blog.

Happy New Year!  Expect great things in 2014!