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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Weekend Wander #94

Wow, where did the summer go?  I can't believe it's gone.  Actually, out here in the desert, we get another month or two of warmer weather.  But all the local schools have started again and there's nothing like school to bring summer to a crashing halt.  Summer and the check-out lines at Wal-Mart, Target and every other retailer...  Glad I'm not going to (or have children attending) school this year.  Although there are days I'd love to send my little angels off for a few hours... Anyways, what have you been doing this busy time of year?  Link 'em up, let me see whatcha got!






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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Kaleidoscopes are cool, Mom!" - Kaleidoscopes to You Review

I mentioned yesterday about starting Little Monkey School... {side note: it was going to be called Mommy School, but my three year old pointed out it was school for him... not Mommy.  So, we call it Little Monkey School.  That's my boy.} ... anyway, he is going through the Pre-K packets A LOT faster than I expected and I realized that I needed to plan more into each day.  This activity was PERFECT!

I was super thrilled when we were asked to review a kaleidoscope from kaleidoscopestoyou.com.  Like I almost squealed sort of super thrilled.  I knew Little Monkey would love it.  We chose and were sent the Make Your Own Kaleidoscope Nature Kit.  I'll admit that when I opened it, my first thought was, "Oh, this isn't exactly what I was expecting." followed shortly by, "Hmmm, I hope there are directions because I sure don't know how to make a kaleidoscope."  Luckily, there were.


It was actually quite easy.  Put in the eye piece, tape the mirrors into a triangle, put them in the tube, put the clear container in the bottom of the tube and fill it with rocks, marbles and dried flowers, and put the lid on.  Ta-da, that's all there was to it.  And, even though Little Monkey didn't understand why it worked, he still thought it was cool.  There were color sheets included to decorate the outside of the tube, but once he peeked down the tube after we put the mirrors in, he had no desire to color, so we skipped that part - it's all just aesthetics anyway (and what boy cares about that, right?).




My favorite part of this kit?  It's re-usable.  Simply change up the stuff in the clear container and it's a whole new color spectrum.  We played with monochromatic tubes, as well as making a mixture of colors.  Little Monkey didn't understand at first that we didn't need to shove EVERYTHING into the tube at once.  After I showed him a green tube (his favorite color), he was a little more willing to use only a few items instead of the entire box.  I know we will use this kit over and over.  As for my initial thought, I was SO wrong.  It's SO much cooler than it looks.  {I'll admit I played with it for a little while after I put Little Monkey down for a nap.....}


Right now, this awesome kit is on sale for $11+shipping.  The nature kit not really your thing?  Kaleidoscopestoyou.com has a TON of other kits.  There is a Galactic kit I might have to order when Little Monkey and I do our "In the Sky" Pre-K unit.  And there's a Princess kit, too.  Bet that one is fun and sparkly!  They also have some amazing and gorgeous kaleidoscopes already put together.


Kaleidoscopes To You was also nice enough to send us the Laminated Wood Teleidoscope as well.  Mr. Napping was rather impressed with this little gadget.  Think kaleidoscope combined with telescope.  The construction of this teleidoscope is gorgeous.  I'm almost afraid to let my kids play with it, it's THAT pretty.  Beautiful, right?  It's kinda like a kaleidoscope, but instead of beads and such in the end, there is a large, multi-faceted, clear marble in the end.  The facets in the marble create the kaleidoscope shapes and colors inside the tube.  It's a pretty cool little gizmo.  


You'll find a large collection of everything kaleidoscope, including jewelry.  There's bound to be something for everyone.  Kids and the kids-at-heart will love the DIY section.  You can even find info on how to create your own kaleidoscope at home.  This was such a blast to do with my little guy and I know we'll be re-visiting this little project again soon.   





Although I was sent the products mentioned above at no cost, all opinions are my own.  The above links are links to Kaleidoscopes To You's website, all of which were included at my own discretion.  This post was written entirely by myself and only reflects my honest review of the products.  You can read my full PR disclosure HERE under the heading "Product Reviews".



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Monday, August 27, 2012

Little Monkey School

I know a lot of you have already started back to school and are just getting into the deep and dirty part of the school year and putting the mountains of paperwork behind you that seems to overload the "welcome back" first week or two.  Today was the first day of Middle School for my little sister and my college-aged siblings started back today as well.  Mr. Napping and I don't have any school-age kiddos yet and Mr. Napping isn't going to school this semester, but Little Monkey and I started "Little Monkey School" today too.  Actually, we started yesterday because the boy was just so dang excited and I figured I had better jump on it.  Hehehe.  the long story is below... skip down a bit for the short story.  =)

Long story:  I had planned on making my own Pre-K packs for us.  And then I started looking around on the internet and realized I would be crazy insane to make my own.  There are so many good (FREE!) ones out there already that have half the work already done for me.  I don't have loads of time to sit around and make Pre-K packs and my printer is fully functioning.  And, thus, began my download obsession.  I have several gigabytes of Pre-K packs and I thought that should keep us busy for a while.

Short story: I'd been planning about a pack a week, with one to two worksheets or activities a day.  I thought that would be about the length of his attention span.  Yesterday, Little Monkey sat down and did two PACKS in about an hour...  Hmm, I might need to find more activities for this boy.  He just zipped through all of them so fast.  EEK.  I plan to schedule in some "extra" lessons and we can do those whenever he needs another structured activity.  Today, we worked on letter M for McQueen and Mater and we played a shape match memory game (about 5 times).  Note to self: use thicker paper... Little Monkey is a cheater.  =)  Haha.

    






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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Weekend Wander #93

Welcome, welcome.  What a week.  I've been busy with a BUNCH of projects and we are getting ready to start some home school preschooling.  What?  That's not actually a word...?  Hmmm, good thing it's just preschool, huh?  Well, whatcha been up to this week?  Link 'em up!








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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup



Hey everyone. Sorry I’ve been so sporadic lately with new posts. I had totally planned to use August to get my act together and get things all set back up and a routine established in our new house. Bah. Funny girl, I am. We went to a week-long family reunion and brought bronchitis home with us. Before we’d even been home three days, every one in the whole house was sniffly, stuffy, sneezy, and coughing. Basically, just plain not feeling good. It’s always rough when you’re sick, but have you ever tried to run a household and care for two {sick} youngsters too?! Bleh, it’s exhausting!

I was actually well the day after we got home and, almost as a premonition, I made some chicken noodle soup for my ailing hubby. Along with making 3 pints of peach jam and canning 14 quarts of peaches, I made a huge pot. I was intending to feed my parents and sisters as well as thinking my sicky could eat on it the next few days. Little did I know, I’d be sucking it down before the next 24 hours were over…

This stuff is fabulous when you’re sick or on a chilly Autumn day. Soup season is almost here and this is definitely one we keep in our regular rotation. Easy and delicious. It also freezes fantastically. PS… there’s a crock pot version below the stovetop recipe.

HOMEMADE CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

Ingredients:
- 2 thawed, boneless chicken breasts or thighs
- 3-4 carrots
- 3-4 stalks of celery
- 3 cups of chicken broth (or 3 chicken bullion cubes and 3 cups of water)
- Noodles of your choice (We love the Homemade Style Egg Noodles. I usually use the Country Pasta Brand). Approximate the amount of noodles depending on whether you like your soup heavy on noodles or heavy on broth.


Directions:
- Chop up your carrots and celery into bite-sized pieces and put them in a large pot.
- Cut your chicken into small pieces and put them in the pot as well.
- Add your chicken broth to the pot.
- Turn the stove on to medium, medium-high heat and cover your pot. Let your veggies and chicken cook for about 20 minutes or so. Check the veggies to see if they are tender, but still slightly crisp. If not cook for another 5 minutes and check again. You still need to cook the pasta, so you don’t want your veggies too tender or they will be mushy by the time your noodles cook. Same goes for veggies too crunchy though. Your noodles will get mushy if you have to cook the veggies for too much longer.
- When the veggies are tender with a little crisp, add your pasta and cook according to the package directions (usually 8-12 minutes) until the pasta is done.
- Let cool and enjoy.


Serves 6-8



* If you notice your broth is getting low, add some more. The egg noodles tend to soak up a lot of liquid, but they sure taste delicious.


CROCK POT CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
I don’t often do this soup in the crock pot because it’s so easy to just do on the stove… and let’s face it, I rarely think about dinner in time to use my crock pot. Sometimes, I get mushy noodles when I use the crock pot, just fair warning.

Ingredients are the same as the above recipe.

Directions:
- Chop your veggies and chicken into bite sized pieces and place them in the crock pot.
- Add your chicken broth and put the lid on the pot.
- Set your crock pot to medium/medium-high (approx 6 hours) and let the crock pot work it’s magic.
- Around the 4-hour mark of cook time, add your pasta. Check the fluid levels and add more broth if you need to. I don’t usually need to though. You don’t need to keep your noodles totally covered, but you don’t want them too dry out either. Trust your gut.
- At about five hours, check your soup and see if it’s done. Allow for more cooking time if necessary. Noodles should be soft, veggies tender, and meat cooked thoroughly. I check at about 15 minute intervals (starting at the fifth hour) to avoid soggy noodles.








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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Day 19 {Thrilling}


I love watching them play together.  All three of them.  I'm so grateful for my family.  They rock my world.  Every once in a while, you get those glimpses of... I'm not sure of the word.  Success, maybe.  Yesterday, Mr. Napping and I were cleaning up the kitchen so we had space to make pizzas for dinner.  Monkey went down for a late nap, so when I went a woke him, he took a little longer to actually get up.  When he did he walked out to the Family Room, where Gator was playing on the floor, laid down next to Gator and put his arm around his brother.  They just laid there for a few seconds.  It was just a mere moment, but it was one that touched my heart.  How lucky am I to have these boys?  The Mr and I just looked at each other with smiles.  So, like I said, I'm not sure of the word.  Success, pride, joy, love, maybe a little of all of those.  Whatever it was, it was a little thrill to my soul to see the way my family is growing and to realize how amazing my boys are.  I love them.  





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Day 18 {Exhausting}


This little guy... he is exhausting.  He's so happy and full of energy all the time.  I've been sick this week (the whole house has), but it's just killing me to try and keep up with him... He eats ALL.  THE.  TIME.  Seriously.  Here's to good health... and hoping I get mine back soon!





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