Early Reading Cups

Lizzie (age 4.5) is beginning to show some interest in reading.  She knows her letters and her phonics and needs to start putting it all together.  As such, I made these very simple reading cups to help her practice some basic beginning words.  I don’t take credit for this idea.  I saw a similar version somewhere on line but I just expanded it to include a lot more words.

It’s very simple to make.  Just gather 16 small Styrofoam cups, a pen (or sharpie), and use the following list as your guide.  For the first set, write the letter “B” on the rim of one cup, and the letters “ug, at, et, ig, eg, og, ag, ut, it” on the rim of the second cup.  All you do to “play” is keep one cup stationary and rotate the second cup around so that a new word is revealed.  The pictures below will help you visualize what I mean.

Lizzie enjoys practicing her reading with cups!

First Cup Second Cup
B Ug

At

Et

Ig

Eg

Og

Ag

Ut

It

 

C

P

F

R

H

S

B

M

At
L

R

S

T

Z

D

H

 

ip
B

L

F

P

H

S

K

W

 

it
B

J

D

P

F

R

G

W

 

ig
B

C

F

J

P

St

 

ar
M

V

B

P

C

R

F

T

 

an
C At

Ot

Ut

On The Hour

This year for Valentines I did something really fun.  I got the idea off of a blog I follow, Thirty Handmade Days.  It’s called the On The Hour gift.  You put together little gifts and then throughout the day your loved one gets to open a gift at the same time every hour.

Michael was so surprised and pleased to wake up to a basket/dresser full of gifts on Valentines morning and he said he had so much fun looking forward to every hour and what he was going to open.

It may sound like a big thing, but a lot of the presents were small and that is what makes this workable.  For instance, a three of the cards were with his breakfast, lunch and dinner…something he would be getting anyway.  Other things included a package of goldfish crackers saying he was “the only fish in the sea” for me.  Or a Lakers poster saying our love was a “slam dunk”.

You just customize it to your loved one and a bunch of little gifts go a long way into making the day special for that person.

This isn’t just a good Valentines idea.  You can use it for a birthday or anniversary too.  Or a just because I love you day.  Get creative!

Speaking of anniversaries, our 6-year wedding anniversary is this weekend and we’re going to Vegas baby!  So next week I’m sure I’ll be posting many mommy moments about missing my kids, calling my kids, and maybe a fun Hotel review or trip happening!

Simply Love Yourself

I have realized, especially since becoming a mother, that women seem to have a difficult time loving themselves.  One mother that I have recently conversed with hesitantly admitted that she even hates herself.  Now, hearing that just plain breaks my heart!  Seriously.  I can feel my heart muscle tearing to shreds!  It is beyond my capacity to understand how a women who is clearly beautiful, thin, extremely talented, and a brilliant wife and mother can’t find even one positive thing to say about herself.

Why are women so hard on themselves?  Why do they expect incessant perfection in every facet of their lives?  Why do women often allow a simple number on a scale determine their worth?  In my opinion, scales should be banned from existence.  Too many times women have become depressed because the number on the scale fails to meet their lofty expectations.  Simply put, numbers do not determine the worth of a soul, yet  modern society has somehow managed to ingrain in our minds that if we don’t weigh a certain amount, we are of no value.

Woman come in every shape and size.  They are all different and they are all beautiful.  Apples are delicious and so are oranges.  There are some similarities between the two fruits, but everyone knows that you can’t change an apple into an orange.  Likewise, you can’t force your body into looking  like another women’s body.  You can simply be the best that your body will allow you to be, based on your genetics, bone structure, and various other factors.  This can be achieved with a balanced diet and exercise.  Being healthy is a life-long process, not a mere destination.   Some women feel constant guilt because they fail to achieve the impossible.

Technology and the social media have unquestionably inflicted their damage on the confidence of women.  What would it have been like to live in a time period where it wasn’t custom to be preoccupied with weighing yourself, or to continuously be bombarded by entirely unrealistic photo-shopped pictures of movie stars?  In fact, even the simple reality that mirrors are found in nearly every room of a person’s house (and inside purses and diaper bags) has been proven to decrease self-esteem and to facilitate obsession with body image.  In the world today, people are expected to look good.  Period.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Well, at least it shouldn’t.

Satan is attacking woman.  He is fully aware of their potential and of their significant role in Heavenly Father’s plan.  As such, He deems it necessary to cause them to feel discouraged and to attempt to decrease their feelings of worth as much as possible via the various media outlets.  We can’t let him win!!!

We need to “be strong and of good courage” and simply love ourselves.  We can’t achieve perfection over night.  We need to simply take each day at a time and do the best that we can at the moment.  If that means locking yourself in the bathroom for a second and screaming at the top of your lungs to get out your frustration, so be it.  If it helps you stay sane and it isn’t inflicting pain on you or your children, I am all for it!

We need to put forth all of our brain power to try to feel of infinite worth, despite the fact that we can’t squeeze  into our skinny jeans (or that our chest sags, or that our hair is turning gray, or that we have a gigantic zit on our chin).  Although we may look in the mirror and see an ugly duckling, our Heavenly Father looks beyond our faults and sees nothing but a beautiful swan.   And really, isn’t that all that matters?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

We’ve decided to do a regular posting here on our blog called Sunday Sweets.  Every Sunday we will post a dessert that we have enjoyed and recommend to be made as soon as possible.  Really.  As soon as possible.

We have a cake shop here in Palmdale called Nadia Cakes.  They are hands down the best cupcakes I have ever eaten.  Last year, in the months preceding my husband’s birthday, he was able to sample quite a few flavors of those cupcakes and had found his favorite.  The Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Cupcake.

He’s usually not a chocolate cake fan.  He’s a kid at heart and favors the confetti cake and frosting.  But when he kept dropping hints about these cupcakes leading up to his birthday, I knew we’d go a different route.

I wasn’t about to spend $4 a pop for cupcakes for everyone that would come to celebrate with us, so I went off in search of a copycat recipe and I managed to find a pretty good one.

I wanted to do a brownie cupcake but I knew if I ruined it I’d be upset.  I decided to experiment with that on a later date and just go regular cake cupcake.  My husband is a fan of box cakes so I didn’t get to wild there.  I just mixed up a chocolate cake and then added a cup of pudding to the batter to make it extra moist.

For the frosting I used this recipe:

Frosting

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (do not use old-fashioned or freshly ground)
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons whipping cream

First I creamed the butter, peanut butter and vanilla extract.  Then I alternated adding the powdered sugar and the whipping cream.  I will say that I used quite a bit more whipping cream than it called for to get the consistency that I wanted, but I don’t know how much more exactly.  Just follow the recipe and then add to your liking.

It was DELICIOUS!  We had enough extra that we sinfully treated ourselves to frosting daily for about a week afterwards.  We put it on graham crakers and animal cookies.  My kids were stealing it out of the fridge by the spoonful.

I topped it off with a bite size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Michael said it was just as close to Nadias as I could get and I was happy for the cheaper version.

We’re still finding new flavors of cupcakes we love at their shop though and definitely recommend a visit if you haven’t been there!

Selective Hearing

I have come to the conclusion that my kids are deaf…but only when they want to be.  They are never deaf when I ask them if they want to sample a delicious chocolate-chip-cookie straight out of the oven.  They immediately sprint to the couch when I ask them if they want to watch a movie.  They always smile when I ask them not to (a trick I learned from my Dad).  On the contrary, when I ask them to pick up their play food that is littering every square foot of our carpet, or to stop throwing bouncy balls at each other, or to stay in the other room for just 10 seconds so that I can put the baby down for a nap in peace and quiet, they completely ignore me.  It’s like I’m talking to a couple of short brick walls with eye balls and limbs.  What’s the use of trying?

The other day, I was sitting on the couch in the living room nursing our 1-month-old baby, Mason.  Bryce, our  two-year-old, thought that He would be “funny”.  He opened the garage door (which was within my eyesight), and slammed it shut.  I, being the patient Mommy that I am, quietly told him to please walk away from the garage door.  He apparently didn’t hear me because he proceeded to open and slam the door again.  And again.  And at least a million more times.  And He was smiling the entire time.  Can you imagine the nerve of a two-year-old?   Actually, you probably can.  Most two-year-old’s come from the same mold.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I raised my voice a few thousand decibels in an effort to get through to his non-functioning ear drums.  I failed.  Miserably.  My throat burned for days due to my valiant efforts, and Bryce simply went on smiling.  The garage door miraculously survived.

On most days of the week, my husband comes home from work and finds me sitting on the couch nursing the baby (because that’s all that I seem to be doing these days), the house looks nothing short of the aftermath of a tornado, and all I can find the energy to say is “I’m not going to talk anymore.  Our kids are deaf.”

Starting next week, I’m going to start brushing up on my sign language.

My Daily Workout

I know I’m not the only one who is still feeling those postpartum pounds; but it feels like it sometimes.  My thighs rub together when I walk, my stomach rolls multiple times over my waistband and my arms jiggle as I order my kids around the house.  It’s pretty depressing.

I’ve been working on an exercise plan that has recently started showing results.  Tough rides on my exercise bike, Lindsay Brin boot camp videos, and attempting to eat healthier have got me two pounds lighter the last couple weeks.  Not bad, right?

But yesterday I came up with a new plan and I had to share.  It’s amazing really.  My arms and legs were burning.  Sweat was dripping across my forehead and upper lip.  My sons were cheering me on saying, “You can do it, mommy.  Just a bit further!”

The workout?  A trip to Costco.  Yup, you heard me right.  After spending almost an hour walking around the warehouse store with a four and two-year old in the cart, along with the growing pile of bulk items, and a 16 pound baby strapped to my chest, I was exhausted!  It was literally an uphill climb to my car over 100 yards away and I had told the boys we weren’t going to make it home that day.  It just wasn’t happening.

The little guys cheered me through it though and I lived to give my recommendation.  Best exercise errand ever!

I had to hit another store today and left sweating almost as much.  So here’s to grocery aerobics!

Now for the cooldown….changing bunk bed sheets.