Friday, November 21, 2014

Magazine Subscriptions for Kids

For the kids who have everything, or for kids who are not really into toys anymore, magazine subscriptions are a fun option- kids get something in the mail on a regular basis (who doesn't love that?), it promotes a certain kind of literacy that many kids don't get an opportunity to engage in, and it's just plain fun to read a new magazine each month! If you need some pointers about which magazine to get for your child (or some other child), read on!

First, when thinking about magazine subscriptions for kids, test it before you buy it. Public libraries typically have a huge selection of magazines for kids. Pick up a couple copies of different ones and test them out.

  • Does your child actually read it? 
  • Are the messages good? 
  • Is there an appropriate amount of activities versus articles/poems/comics for your child's age and interest level? 
  • What is being advertised to the kids? Are those the kind of advertisements you are okay with?
If' you're looking for some to start out with, here are a few that my kids enjoy:

Ages 3+
For any animal lover, these magazines really do grow with the child. They have one perfect for any age level, so if you have older kids, there are ones for them too. 

Ages 5-12
We actually get this one for free in our pediatrician's office! This magazine is filled with delicious, age-appropriate recipes and food topics that kids can really make and enjoy. The magazine is also culturally diverse, which is a huge plus for us. 

Ages 8-14
We have a little sports guru in the house, so this is one that allows him to be all into the sports loop without me having to keep up to date on the latest stories and stats. 

Ages 9-14
Muse is for boys and girls who are interested in asking lots of questions and learning new things. It's sponsored by the Smithsonian, so you know you're getting good quality information!  

Ages 8-13
This magazine is filled with stories, poems and art by other kids. This is one for kids who really love to read and write- I think it will really inspire them!

What others would you recommend, for what age level, and why? 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Cake

Ok, ok I know this is supposed to be a recipe post, but I have to tell you a funny story first.  Last week I was over at my sister's house taking care of my niece.  Around mid-morning we sat down for a snack and I cut myself a piece of pumpkin pie cake, which my sister had told me about before she left that morning.  While my poor niece snacked on something healthy, I thoroughly enjoyed my piece of cake.  About midway through my snack I thought, "I should use this cake for my recipe post next week!"  However, there was a slight problem...  I really didn't think my half eaten piece of cake would make for an appetizing photograph for the post!  So, after polishing off my piece of cake, I carefully cut another one and put it on a fancy plate to photograph.  Not wanting to make a complete pig of myself, I put it back in the pan after I had taken its picture (I may or may not have scooped the whipped cream off to eat first...).   The funny thing, I forgot to tell my sister that I did this!  So she comes home and finds a fancy plate her dishwasher and a removed and put back again piece of cake in her pan, and no doubt she thought I'd gone completely nuts.  Thankfully I eventually remembered to tell her what I had done, though no doubt should would have figured it out when this recipe post showed up on the blog.  Anyway, this pumpkin pie cake is really yummy and it makes a thick 9x13 pan, so if you're feeding a crowd it could save you the trouble of making multiple pie crusts.  Without further ado, here's the recipe!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Shop Ikea's Soft Toys for Education and Support Education for Kids Around the World

Oh Ikea.  How do I love you?  Let me count the ways!

You've got awesome furniture with fun-to-say names.
You've got free babysitting.
You've got free coffee.
You've got cheap food that's yummy too.
You've got free food for kiddos on Tuesday.
You helped potty train my niece (true story - Smaland was an awesome potty training bribe).

But somehow I've managed to love you even more now that I know Ikea is supporting education for kids around the world with the Ikea Soft Toys for Education Campaign!  Through a partnership with UNICEF and Save the Children, the Ikea Foundation has raised over 90 million dollars (yes, million!) since 2003, and has impacted more than 11 million children.  This year you can help the Ikea Foundation reach even more children by purchasing a soft toy, because for each toy and book purchase Ikea will donate $1.00 toward education for children.

If you live an an average American family, you might fall into the trap of viewing education as being "normal", when the truth is that it is a huge blessing and privilege.  My family has an international college student living with us right now, and recently we were discussing the situation in her country several years ago when there was a coup d'etat.  I asked if she was able to go to school and she explained that she missed several months of school because it was too dangerous to go out.  My two little boys started cheering about how awesome it would be to miss that much school, but the horrified look on her face quickly stopped them.  It was quite clear to her that education is the key - the way out - and that anything that stood in the way of that was no cause for celebration.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Candy Corn Turkey

I'm a huge fan of candy corn, but I can never eat a whole bag. I'm loving it and loving it and then. full stop. I can't eat another piece for a whole year.

So, the question is always- do I buy a whole bag, knowing that I'll throw at least half of it away? Normally I don't, and just mooch off my friends a few pieces at a time. But this year, I decided to create a craft that used them so that I could eat my fill and not feel bad (because they were obviously a craft supply and not an indulgence- so whatever). 

Turkeys + Candy corn= Great Thanksgiving craft and decoration

Must Try Soups for the Fall

When the weather turns cooler, I immediately think of soup. That's just want I want to make for dinner. Unfortunately, one of my kiddos isn't a big fan of soup, so I have to space out my soup cravings. I have compiled a list of must-try soups for this fall season, wanna try one?

First up, I have some vegetarian options.

from the Art of Comfort Baking
Creamy Tortellini Soup with Cheddar (just be sure to use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth!)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Firefighter Birthday Party

My dear Sebastian turned four just a few weeks ago, and to celebrate, he requested a firefighter birthday party. And so that was what he got.

In past years we have done a rocket party, a car party, and a robot party (which was before this blog was started). Some of them have turned out well, and some of them...well, yeah. But this one was a good one.

Let me share the details:

Friday, November 7, 2014

Advent Ideas: How to Celebrate in 2014

Christmas is a coming! Christmas is a coming! While I was slightly annoyed to walk into Target and see Santa and his reindeers hanging overhead (what? already? no!), I think it's a totally appropriate time to start thinking about Advent, the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas.

This year Advent beings on Sunday, November 30th, meaning there are still a few weeks to decide if you and your family will participate in Advent this year, what you will use, and then gather the materials you need to prepare!

Each year I like to highlight some of the best (at least in my opinion) tools to use to lead your family through this season of anticipating Jesus.

Drumroll, please.

1. An Advent Calendar
Last year, we did a round up of 6 different types of Advent Calendars, including a few that we made ourselves- the matchbox advent calendar as well as the ornament calendar. The idea of this type of experience is that each day your child will open one item (an envelope, a box, a pocket, whatever) and inside find something that will point them towards Jesus' birth.

Pinterest is filled with a gazillion cute advent calendar ideas, so just choose one that is manageable to you in your current stage!

2. Truth in the Tinsel
I have used Truth in the Tinsel several times, once using their full-blown curriculum, and then the next year using just their printable ornaments (give me a break, my littlest was an infant! ;)). Both times the kids LOVED it. Not a little bit, but a whole lot. I'm so thankful that Amanda created this wonderful resource for parents and I really think that each family should go through this at least once when their kiddos are young.

The printable ornaments are $3.99, and the full blown curriculum is $7.99. (affiliate links!)

3. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift
This resource is new this year, and MaryAnn did a great job of reviewing it last week. This is a good one if you are wanting to get away from only using the Christmas story to talk about Christmas, but instead need a little bit of "whole story" pointing towards the coming of Jesus. This resource is a mostly a book, with free printable ornaments, so no craftiness needed! :)

4. Everyday Emmanuel (from What's in the Bible?)
This is a great "first Advent" resource if you haven't celebrated Advent before. This curriculum is straight forward and doesn't assume you have knowledge about how to teach the Christmas story to your kids. The curriculum uses video, printables, an Advent calendar, and crafts to teach you and your child about Emmanuel (God with us).

They also have a DVD that you can purchase as well called, Why Do We Call It Christmas? I haven't watched it yet, but it looks pretty great from the preview.

There are many more that I haven't included in this short list, so if you find something that you and your family love to do, leave a comment and maybe a link so that the rest of us can check it out too!