Monday, December 10, 2012

iKids: Whether or not the littles should be knee-deep in technology

Some people really despise technology in the hands of littles. Hi, I'm one of them. Well, I was . . . before. I'm all about mud pies, wooden blocks, playing in the rain, kick ball, pretending -- the good stuff.

I just can't discount the value of technology. In a progressive sense, my children and all the little humans of their generation are going to be so deep into tech-everything that they may invent a mud pie simulator. I can see it now: "that earthy, fresh mud smell, a spray of immune-strengthening serum, but no mess! includes a free eraser app for you iSuperPhone to clean up the virtual mess".

Really though, don't knock it til you try it. (What a stupid saying, though. Here don't knock drugs before you try 'em. Taste some arsenic. Speed 20 miles over the limit without a seat belt on. Eat triple the amount of recommended trans fat. THEN you can have an opinion). OK, well, at least just go the "not for me" route rather than the "wrongly wrong wrongness" route.

Kids are flexible sponges the size of your average planet waiting to soak up every tid bit of information. Whether they are smashing their hands into earthworm infested brown mud while they attempt to make pies on a concrete-step pretend kitchen or staring bug eyed as they seamlessly manipulate some learning app while they learn ABCs: it's GOOD for them.

It's all about balance.

I want to put in a quick note here too: Think more along the lines of uber upgrades from 90's PC games like Reader Rabbit, Mavis Bacon, Sim City, and Oregon Trail (heck, these need to be made into apps in my very humble opinion), less the touch-screen version of xbox lego star wars or nintendo wii super mario or NFLumpteenthousand for whatever-have-you.

To back up my egregious claims here is a list of my favorite apps for the kiddos:

This one in particular deviates from the jillions of ABC/123 games and gets into an area that tend to be neglected with younger kids: geography. It starts out in a puzzle-style game that gradually includes more countries. Even I learned from playing on this app.

Who doesn't love the fuzzy red muppet? Don't lie. Tons of mini-activities keep this app interesting. It is colorful and interactive. Bonus: you can track your child's activity within the app to see what they might be learning. However, if you find Elmo's voice obnoxious you may find yourself temporarily deleting it on occasion.

Math. I hate math but this app will make anyone enjoy it. There is a gradual increase in difficulty as tasks are mastered through the game. It starts with a very simple game to identify numbers and try basic counting. Later on it gets into simple addition. Some people complain that it needs more games to keep it interesting but my kids haven't ever seemed bored of it. 

This app is very cute and very touch-based. Kids draw shapes, manipulate colors, and touch numbers. It's all about these basics. This is probably better for the youngest tech geeks. My 1.5 year old and 3 year old both love it but my 3 year old has it completely figured out and isn't nearly as enamored as my younger girl.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Let's do this powerpoint style.
-My baby turned ONE! Bittersweet.
-My Marine is home!!
-My amazing man is now doubly employed. He has two jobs, two more interviews, and he's working on re-enrolling in school. The old managing job back + an office job.
-Halloween was fun! We had a minnie mouse and a pink dinosaur this year. ;)
-I'm still managing to pass my classes!! Miracles.
-Unfortunately I will not be finishing my associates in spring.
-Fortunately, I will only need to take two classes in the summer semester to finish.
-We have a million prospects on the horizon and we have no idea what the next few years will look like but we're looking forward to it.
-Scrapbooking is amazing therapy. It's not the cute pictures or the fun paper . . . it's the gluing, the cutting, the ripping paper, and . . . perhaps the peeling of dry glue off the fingers.
-We got ourselves an xbox and beat Halo 3. Because, we're awesome. Like it.
- I have incredibly strong urges to decorate for Christmas BUT I'm holding myself together for another 2.5 weeks before going nuts.

We have a lot to be thankful for this November. Hopefully I can remember that no matter what happens down the road.

"If you want to feel rich, just count the things you have that money can't buy."


Now you can't say you forgot.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


It's late. Kiddos are in bed. I'm lonely. Just got done studying.

What could you possibly do to make mom-life harder? Get a full time job and/or go to college at the same time. What could make that harder? Doing it at home with your littles underfoot.

Why oh why didn't I take the BLUE pill?

Sometimes, I truly feel pathetic. I second guess everything I've ever done. I graduated high school at 17, great GPA, decent ACT scores, and headed to a private university (they certainly think they're awesomesauce . . . can you say $$$$$) just after turning 18. Now I've made my choices. Here I am. I'm 22, haven't held a regular job in 3 years, eeking by to hopefully finish my 2 year degree before 23.

Then I go and look in at those two beautiful girls. I walk out of their room and pass the portrait of my Marine on the wall. There are toys all over the floor, used dishes in the sink, leftovers from a good meal on the counter, and a pile of dirty clothes (still) sitting in a hamper.

What the HELL is wrong with me? I have nothing to complain about. Seriously. I have nothing to want. This is far from being pathetic. I sincerely hope no one pities me. If you are you're wasting your time.

So here's a better perspective. I'm only 22. I all ready have an incredible marriage of three years to my best friend in the universe. We've made these two amazing little humans (the most amazing in the world in my humble mommy opinion). I have done all I can to bring in extra money (babysitting, ebay, paper route anyone?). Even though I could drop out now I haven't and even thought a 2 year degree has taken me 4.5 years I'm going to get it. (By all means, I might just take a stab at getting my 4 year degree.) I supported my husband as he pursued his dream of becoming a United States Marine. Rather than accumulate more debt staying in a private school I dropped out until I could afford it.

It may seem out of order. It's definitely harder. But I'll be damned if anyone convinces me this isn't the best story.

Certainly, there is no better legacy I can create than the two sleeping babes on the other side of this wall. There is no better creation, no wiser investment, no richer return.

Sometimes I have to remind myself why I'm in school. I'm doing this for me. I actually love to learn and if it was free I'd probably stay in school until I die. But, I'm also doing this for them. They need to know what they're capable of doing. Who better to show them than their own parents?

So there you have it. My next to last semester at this school has begun. I'm keeping fingers crossed I can kill these courses, transfer to an online program, and get my bachelor's. Meanwhile, my man is out in a field somewhere being amazing. Our two princesses are in their warm beds.

Note to self: I'd take the red pill again just like that.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fingerpainting Pinterest Craft!

This was FUN. And, it was EASY.

Here is the original.

I didn't use canvas or regular finger paint. We used crayola color wonder paper and finger paint.

I fixed up letters with blue painter's tape and put that over the paper then just let them have at it. A spare piece of cardboard I keep for things like this meant I didn't even need to wipe up the floor (much).

 Notice the cute toes of an eager toddler. I frustrate her muchly when I'm trying to get pictures of anything like this. She's always ready to get on with it!

 I barely let it dry for 10 seconds before taking the paint off. The nice thing about the crayola paint stuff is that it doesn't really drip and it dries fast anyway.


It's kind of adorable. I didn't get any pictures of the actual painting, sadly. They need some serious refereeing when it comes to art and craft supplies. If I could just give them an empty white room and all the paint, markers, and crayons imaginable there'd likely be no space untouched. Think the inside of Rapunzel's tower in Tangled. haha Definitely . . . .

So there you have it! I'll either frame it for their room or put it in the "keep" folder for the kid-art scrapbook I honestly intend to put together someday.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Our At-Home Read-to-Me Summer Reading Mission

Because mission sounds cooler than "program" or "goal" . . . .

I was too late looking into a summer reading program of some sort for my kiddos (primarily, the toddler).   They both (at the ripe old ages of 28 and 10 months) love books anyway but I want to keep encouraging (err . . . bribing? possibly?) that love.  They're to little yet to be reading to themselves in a legitimate manner. My 2 year old will hunker down in her bed looking at multiple books for minutes. (And anyone with a 2 year old knows that minutes are awesome units of time. 2 minute time out. 10 minutes to bed. 30 minute "rest". Just a minute.)

Since taking on more classes and having all of the household duties on my shoulders while my Marine has been gone I've totally slacked on reading. After putting them into their beds the other night I grabbed a book on trains and sat in the floor and read to them. All the jabbering, the attempts at distracting themselves from much needed sleep, and the occasional shrieking death-howls were put to an end as I began to quietly start into the first paragraph. The parrot-like toddler clung to my words and the baby stared sleepily through crib slats at the colorful pictures -- both mesmerized.

**Hello, dummy (thinking to myself) why you no read more?! Dang it! LE SIGH**
(yes, I've started thinking "le sigh" as a term inside my head. i just did it again. ugh.)

Anyway, this sparked a last minute search for a program for them. Perhaps something with an award system exists?


Too late for most things. Some info was far too vague. Others were aimed to the 4+ crowd.

I decided to devise a plan to keep me engaged with a goal of reading MORE. Now, I'm not going from reading 0 books to 2-3, personally. We're going from reading 4-5 times (minimum of two DIFFERENT books, if I'm lucky) a day to aiming more for 10. Given the longevity of most children's books, this is really only a minimum of 30 minutes (3 per book) and anywhere up to a couple conglomerate hours of reading.

When's the best time to read to them?

Whilst the toddler is on the mini-potty; before nap and bedtime; during lunch or breakfast; whenever the TV quota is met (heh heh); anytime at all.

First stop: LIBRARY. (the Rogers Public Library, to be exact)

We have a TON of books. TONS. We've read them all multiple times. ALL. Multiple. Yes.

So I found a couple I'd never read and a couple I remember reading when I was little. We went through all of them moments after returning home from the library the other day and we've read them many times since.

This is great.

BUT . . . I suck. SO . . . I need visual reminders.

Maybe a piece of paper on the door? Boring.

A list on the fridge? So 1990s.

Sticky note on the computer with a running list of read and un-read books? Yeah, right. Like I'd keep it up. hahaha


Pretty colors. Construction paper + Scissors = Strips of Rainbow

That's all fine and dandy. I'll write the titles and authors on each strip as we read. I can totally glue them to another sheet of paper and hang it up on the fridge or an obvious wall space.

(The boring police are flickering their annoying LED lights now.)

Hey look . . .

A cup sitting on the shelf being totally lazy and unhelpful. TO WORK it goes! I'll stick strips of paper with book titles into the vase as we read. Our mission: fill it until it's full.

This is our At-Home, Read-to-Me Summer Reading thingy.

So, there ya have it. 5ish more weeks until I'm back to my courses. Hopefully we can get the vase FULL of  slips. By using the library, I can decide which books I want access to on our shelves at home,  which I prefer to avoid, and which were sufficient

Another thought: for older kids assign a monetary value to each slip. 25 cents. Don't be crazy. If you read 20 books that's . . . money. Calculate it yourself. It's late and I've had a long day.

Now GO! Motivate your kiddos to be nerdy little bookworms instead of nerdy little computer viruses!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tanyard Creek Trail + a Hello

There's been NO extra time for this blog with all we've had going on.

#1 MY HUSBAND (mine, my man!!) is now a United States Marine. That's right. With a heck of a lot of determination, support from my family and our friends, and lots of hand written letters we BOTH made it  through the crazy three months of boot camp. He graduated Private First Class. I didn't die. Pretty awesome. There were lots of obstacles for both of us -- mental, physical, emotional -- but we did it. He graduated from Parris Island at the end of June. The whole experience has been pretty incredible.

In other news, if you're looking to go back to school I need to recommend looking into NWACC. Northwest Arkansas Community College has been pretty amazing for me. If there are no surprise bumps in the road I'll graduate from there next year with my associate's degree. Best part: It's ALL been online. I had a lot of support there while my husband was gone (he left in the middle of spring semester and I started a couple of summer classes before he was done). It's honestly got to be one of the best opportunities for people going back to school, with family's, or with other important obligations (military or full time job or stay at home mama for example). I just have to slide that recommendation in there.

In more recent, less crazy . . . I did some googling trying to find something fun and FREE for us to do around here on a Sunday. Eureka Springs is on our list of places we want to go back to but gas + food + spending money wasn't going to fit into our budget. We've been to the new art museum in Bentonville once, kids in tow. Um, no. Not doing that again. We'd all ready been to the drive-in and the same feature was showing as before. The pool at our complex was crawling with teenagers. No thanks. Anyway, I did some googling. Honestly I don't remember how I came across it but there was a link for a nature trail in Bella Vista. Oh ok, quaint little walk. Why not?

Who knew THIS was in Bella Vista?

Whoever did know, you totally suck for not telling me. There is a simple route but there's also an easy hike of about 2 miles with lots of overlooks, a couple waterfalls, and plenty of swimming holes. Beware, we definitely saw at least one cottonmouth and one copperhead sunning. Don't let them stop you from seeing this hidden Arkansas site though.

If you take the main Bella Vista exit (town center) going north turn left and keep driving. It's on the left near a set of little homes and a golf course. You should be able to see a sign for "Tanyard Creek Nature Trail". There's a parking lot, picnic tables, restrooms, and even a dog water station. (Yes, it's also good-dog friendly. Dogs on leashes who are cleaned up after are totally welcome. Our new pup enjoyed himself.)

Total win.

We're looking forward to going back this fall after some rain has filled the creeks back up.

I make fun of Arkansas all the time but sometimes the Natural state shows me a thing or two.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Potty Training

We have been super busy around here with things.

I thought I'd take the time to post about our potty training plan though.

For starters, we bought a potty for N when she was younger than 12 months to get her used to it. I would occasionally let her sit on it when I was going. She was very proud of herself. She even peed a couple times. I went back and forth with myself on whether to really put effort in as we got closer to my due date with little E. N was about 16-18 months old, we were moving, and I'd read about regressions so I didn't push too hard. Although, I would've loved to be at least partially done with diapers at the time. Well, now she is 25 months. She had made some progress with our very relaxed, keep the potty in the living room, and give her a little candy if she decided to go on her own method. She did regress shortly after E's birth as I expected so I'm actually glad I didn't overdo it.

At this point, she is done with diapers, apparently. For one, she prefers to be nude 24/7. It's nearly impossible to keep her in a diaper or pull up at nap time let alone during the day. She also started calling them "baby pants" or "E's pants" and pretty much outright refuses to voluntarily lie down for a change as she has for the longest time. Oh no, she wants to be a little nudist.

For two, she has started very clearly letting me know when she thinks she needs to go. It doesn't matter if it's #1 or #2 she has shown a lot of awareness and will at least try to get the diaper/pants/underwear/dress up skirt off before she needs to go.

For three, she can communicate. She knows what the potty is and what it is for. She knows that she has a potty chair in the main area and a ring for the big toilet in the bathroom. She knows how to pull the little bucket out of the chair and dump it in the big potty. She knows how to remove and replace the potty ring on it's little hook at the side of the big toilet. She knows to go, wipe, flush, then wash her hands. I still help her a lot on all these points. We have a little stool for her but it is too small so she still needs help getting to the sink. Besides, she'd sit there and play in the water all day if I allowed her to do it all alone anyway.

So, with all of this. It's obviously about that time. Time to potty train. Since when do I have a toddler anyways?

I did a "Test run" several days ago to see how she'd do with a reward system. Um, awesome. Stickers for sitting on the potty and a big prize (a little thing of sparkly nail polish) for going potty and staying dry for a day.

This is going to be my system. I made up a chart. We'll buy stickers and pullups (for nap and bed, she'll wear them if there are princess on them . . .diva) tomorrow. For every time in a day she goes she gets to put a sticker up on her chart. For every FULL day she does well (day does not include nap or night time) she gets a coloring page! Amazing how very easily excited 2 year olds are by coloring. For this part I've printed several pages following a potty theme. (I'll share some of them via the links at the end) THEN, for every 7 days (or a week, but not necessarily consecutive) she goes to the potty and stays dry she gets a "big prize". I have 7 weeks on the chart with a variety of "big prizes" that steadily get more "valuable". Week 1 is new nail polish. Week 2 is a coloring book (yay dollar store!). Week 3 is a book (the potty book). Week 4 is NEW underwear she can pick out herself. Week 5 is a trip to get frozen yogurt. Week 6 is a trip to Chick-fil-a to eat and play. Week 7 we'll make a big cookie and go to build a bear (not something I'd normally go for BUT we have gift cards all ready) and she will get a "BIG GIRL" certificate which I will make up and print out. 

This may sound over the top to some but I don't care. In my head, I will be celebrating so much that I want to throw a party for the universe.

So there you have it. That's my plan.

We'll see how it goes. In 2 weeks I have finals. In 7-8 weeks we'll be doing a lot of traveling.

*fingers crossed*

Here's those pages I printed:

Blue's Clues
Hand washing
Toilet paper
Pull Ups
Baby on the Potty

P.S. Parent Bonus: You can keep the little chart, the coloring pages, and put it together with some pictures of your toddler on the potty to make a little booklet. PERFECT for embarrassing them later. Show off your kiddo's skills to all their hot dates!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Toddler Activities

I've been searching all over for ideas to keep my toddler occupied. Color wonder and puzzles are life savers. My toddler loves them. But, this spring and summer I want to be out of the house or outdoors as much as possible. Here is what I've found:

The Splash Park in Rogers (near the recreation center)

The Park on Horsebarn Road (Rogers) -- this is our favorite park all ready 

Crystal Bridges - Art Days (supposed to be offered starting in April)

Storytime at a local library (Rogers, Bentonville, Springdale, Fayetteville) -- Check their websites or calendars for details

I've been looking for a not-too-expensive class to enroll my almost-2-year-old in but it look like anything worthwhile will have to wait until she is 3 or 4. All of the above are FREE.

Monday, February 13, 2012

iPad. Yes Ma'am.

Love. I use it for my online classes(everything from writing assignments to reading etextbooks), sharing on facebook and twitter, teaching and entertaining the toddler, and even getting the baby to sleep with white noise app.

Here is a master list of my FAVORITE free Apps for iPad!

LS2 Mobile
Idea Sketch
Blackboard Mobile Learn

Social & Entertainment

Toddlers and Kids
Fisher Price Animal Sounds
Fisher Price Shapes and Colors
Fisher Price Where's Puppy's Nose
Fisher Price Let's Count
Toy Story
PBS Kids
Art of Glow
Elmo ABCs Lite
Talking Tom
Seek & Find
Candy Train
See Touch Learn

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kicking Postpartum Depression in the B-U-T-T

I have Postpartum Depression.

This is not my weakness. It is my challenge.

And, I will overcome it.

What is it?

Friday, January 6, 2012

SAHM + College + iPad?

OK, I remember being in elementary and middle school. I wasn't allowed to use a pen until highschool for the most part. Pencils. I like pencils.

But things are seriously changing.

After looking at all my options I'm going (primarily) the etextbook route this semester. My macbook needs several upgrades that are more than I can afford right now so I'm also getting an iPad.

I did MUCHOS research for my classes, future courses, and what other tools I could use or would need to see how cost sensible this was. Basically, hardbacks from the bookstore would've been 800ish depending on if I could get them used or new (closer to 900 new). So. Wrong. Through some finagling on it was going to be down to 600. I decided to look into the ereader route to see if I couldn't save a penny and make my life easier (keeping up with books, notebooks, and pens, and other crap with the toddler . . . ohlawd). I found out pretty fast that nookstudy, which is what my school's bookstore offers the etextbooks through, does NOT even work on the freakin' nook! What??

So, I love Mac anyway and decided to google the possibilities with the iPad. Initially, it was all very contrary. Slowly I found a couple links and blogs with great information. Basically, the whole ereader for college thing is still a work in progress but this semester all but one of my classes has the etextbooks available. Each of the programs I found allows you to use an iPad, PC, or a regular Mac. Perfect!!

So now, with one hardback, one paperback, and 5 etextbooks (6 month "rental") my cost is down to just under 400!

Now some say the iPad is pricey sure. Right now I'm kind of bummed just because I know the iPad 3 is on it's way and I can't wait for it or for the lower prices on the iPad 2 since it may not come out until just before my midterms. Oh well. The total cost to repair my Macbook Pro is something like 800 dollars right now. I had relinquished myself to getting a basic, cheap, but decent PC notebook (ewwie ewwie ewwww) and I was going to end up spending around 600 for that plus money for a new printer plus some other software I needed for the Windows computer to meet my needs.

Then I found all of this:



Amazon/Kindle for iPad






List of FREE Apps

So, literally, I've eliminated half the crap I bought my freshman year.

I'm not the typical student. I'm taking online classes and I'm a SAHM (stay at home mom). 

iPad = textbooks, flashcards, notebooks, pens, highlighters, research (via newspapers, articles, or the web), calendar, planner, organizer, alarm/reminders, sticky notes, calculator, dictionary, blackboard

Not to mention the non-school stuff . . . social networking, blogging, games and entertainment for me. learning games and entertainment for the toddler, a cookbook, workout planner, ebay, news, music, misc. reading . . .

All in one spot?? I'll take it.

Really, the only downside for me is being able to have all my pictures to update, edit, share, and store all in one place. Oh wait! They have adobe photoshop express, shutterfly for ipad, photobucket for ipad, and dropbox. It's not perfect using my husband's PC desktop but once we get a Mac desktop (the plan!) and my macbook pro is fixed up I will be workin' it for REALZ.

In the end, I think I'd rather spend the 800+ on the ipad, ebooks, and a few greats apps and accessories (they keyboard and smart cover, anyone?) instead of a load of giant textbooks and a slew of supplies from walmart!

It definitely can't hurt to try it.



I always, always do this. Blog start. Blog goes. Blog goes well. Blog ends abruptly when lifes gets loco.

I hope that everyone had some fantastic holidays! Despite things being very different for our little family this year we did enjoy it. We had a tasty, relaxing Thanksgiving. We had a fun Christmas. And, New Years was very, very low key.

Things are about to get INSANE around here. I've had some health issues. We're finally getting organized around our new normal (two kids, two jobs, lots of stuff going on) and I'm really in need of an outlet like this that IS NOT facebook or something else to share the ME that is dying to be expressed. Google+ and Facebook just don't do it for me in some ways so back to the blog I come.

So, expect lots more in the coming weeks but it will be different. I'm back in school after taking last semester off for the baby and classes start in two weeks. We're jumping head first into military life this summer too. It's gonna be a crazy year.

And, I NEVER make resolutions but I did this year and here they are:

  1. 1. Do not get pregnant
  2. Get in better shape
  3. Kick PPD's butt
  4. Don't die when my husband is at bootcamp and SOI
  5. Kick school's butt
  6. Start getting out of debt (50% down goal!)
I will probably end up posting in the dead of night when I am up studying but I don't want too . . . hehe