Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Review: Finding Educational Activities in the Most Unexpected Places

Sometime being an aunt is hard. I don't have the patience of a mom and I'm just not used to kids since I'm not around them that often. That's one reason I enjoy reading the blog Many Little Blessings. Angie writes about everything from crafts to going green to family/kids and sometimes all these at once! I'm always interested in posts about her kids and their activities since her kids are a bit older than my youngest nieces/nephew. While I don't get to babysit as often as I would like, I'm always on the lookout for activities we can do together.

That's why when Angie announced her book, Finding Educational Activities in the Most Unexpected Places, I was so excited for her and for me. Angie has a Master's degree in Special Education and does in-home therapy for young children. According to Angie, this book
was written as a reaction to comments that many of the families that I see doing in-home therapy have said. I often bring toys for the children to play with while we’re working, and many families have said things like, “I need to get something like (that toy)” or “You have all the cool toys.” I wanted to show those families that there are so many activities that can be done with just objects in and around their own houses. So, I wrote this book with them in mind. (I am giving the books, one section at a time, to those families at no charge.)
This 58-page e-book has over 200 activities to keep any child busy using common (and inexpensive) household items. The book is organized by props including such items as lids, poker chips, and blankets. While I don't have any poker chips, I do have other things I can use for the activities. See, she's already got me thinking! Given Angie's background, I'm confident the activities she's given will be fun and educational.

What I liked:
* In addition to the fun ideas, Angie noted the benefits such as hand-eye coordination or if the activity might not be appropriate for a child (for example, child with sensory defensiveness).
* Well organized.
* A list of her favorite books for toddlers and preschoolers. While I am familiar with most of them, there are a few that are new to me.
* The PDF format, which is low cost and easy to browse, but allows me to print out pages if I want hard copy.

What I would have liked:
* More details on which activities would be appropriate for what ages or age range (as a non-mom, I'm not sure what activities would be best/appropriate for a two year old or a four year old or a six year old).
* An index (but I'm old school that way).

You can purchase a copy of Finding Educational Activities in the Most Unexpected Places at Many Little Blessings for $7.50 US. Through the end of this month (May 2010), you can get a 20% discount by using this code: Scrapbook20.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. I was not paid for this review nor received any other compensation.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Almost empty

Somehow, our fridge got emptied. Must have something to do with not having any time to grocery shop. Or being on vacation for a couple of days. I'm in charge of grocery shopping/cooking and made sure Mr. Fix-it had lots of leftovers to consume before I left. Although he did manage to buy some gelato for dessert. Other than than what you see, we've been eating from the freezer. I even resorted to going out to lunch TWICE this week. The good news is I was inspired to clean all the shelves and drawers since they were almost empty. It's something I do periodically...like once every other year.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Those young whipper snappers don't know everything

At a recent garage sale, we overheard some teenagers trying to figure out some technology. The technology wasn't that old, after all, I used one growing up and mom still has one in her house. What was it that had those kids befuddled? A telephone. A rotary phone to be exact. One kid was pressing the numbers and the other kid had to show him how the turn the dial. How quaint! (my words, not theirs)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The good fat

I made chicken stock a couple weeks ago and now the freezer is full. I'm well stocked (ha! ha!) for soup this summer. Since FIL's freezer was almost empty, I took some over there to store. Since a full freezer works more efficiently than an empty freezer, it is a win-win, right? (Although I didn't make that much stock.) I also added a bunch of ice blocks so now the freezer is about half full.

Before I froze the stock, I skimmed the fat off and instead of throwing it away, I stored it in a little bowl in the fridge (just like mom, although I remember mom leaving it on the stove). The next few times I sauted vegetables, I added a bit of the fat for flavor. Yummo! I think Mr. Fix-it appreciated the extra flavor, but I wonder what's worse for you, chicken fat or butter?

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Unfortunately, I'm not spending it w/my mom, but I did send her a card (I think I'm required to send handmade cards, no more Hallmark for Mom, lol) and called her this morning. I think she knows how much I miss being w/her, even if we get on each other's nerves if we spend too much time together.

We also took flowers to MIL at the cemetery (and also wanted to make sure the year was added to FIL's tombstone since it turns out that wasn't paid for even though we thought it was). Even at 9:30 in the morning, the cemetery was crowded and they had three security guys directing traffic. I would have taken a picture of the flowers and posted it, but I didn't want to weird Mr. Fix-it out, nor any of my readers. Suffice to say they are pretty and MIL/FIL would be happy we got them from Trader Joe's since they seem to have the best price on cut flowers bouquets.

I'm not sure if we will be taking flowers to FIL/MIL on a regular basis. We stopped taking flowers to MIL because FIL took flowers every week and it a little frustrating to bring flowers and then not have any place for them. Mr. Fix-it really isn't a flower kind of guy (since I don't get flowers even once a year), but I was brought up to regularly bring flowers to the cemetery. I suspect we won't be taking flowers very often, though I will feel guilty about that. (As I always say, guilt, the gift that keeps on giving.)

Give your mom a hug or call or thought today. Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Tales from the trash heap

I can't believe it has been a month since FIL left us. Some days, it feels like it just happened and sometimes it feels like it has been months. (Lest you think I'm being disrespectful with the title of this post, please keep reading.) This past Sunday, a neighbor left a note at FIL's house. It turns out, FIL would stop by his house regularly to pick up recyclables, even after the city changed to the giant automated pickup cans, and they missed him. I made the slightly uncomfortable call and spoke with the wife. She was very sweet and talked about how FIL regularly stopped by their house for years; they would leave recyclables by the side of the house just for him. She asked when FIL passed away. That was when it hit me that it had been about three weeks since the funeral and exactly four weeks since his passing. So I wanted to jot down some memories before they faded away.

I mentioned in FIL's eulogy how much he enjoyed getting something for nothing, picking though the garbage for recyclables or "valuables" he could sell at garage sales. At one garage sale, some teens found some stuff their dad threw out and bought it to take home as a joke.

On garbage day, he'd troll the neighborhood looking for fans or lamps he could repair. Unfortunately, he collected more than he had time to fix and the backyard was full of rusted, broken fans, lamps, and exercise equipment. We rented a giant bin to get rid of this stuff and should have rented two. It only took an hour to fill it to the top and there was still the side yards and garage to go. We went out for a few hours and when we got back, we had a pleasant surprise. My nephew discovered that someone had cleared out half the bin. Half! This sounds like something FIL would have done (though he wouldn't have been able to haul off quite that much himself). Too bad we weren't home because we would have invited them to take more, lol. We took advantage of the empty space and emptied out the side yard, whew! I suspect some of that stuff was gone before garbage pickup the next day. And FIL would have been right there making sure he didn't miss any of the good stuff.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

We have a winner!

Actually three winners! Holly, send me your snail mail address. Susan and Miwa, I have your addresses.