Allergy Free Gingerbread House

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Caleb is SO excited for Christmas. SO EXCITED. All he talks about is Santa, Christmas, Snow, and everything that goes along with it all. Today I thought I’d love to make a Gingerbread House with him. He’s been very into houses (He saw the American Girl’s new doll house and now wants every house he sees), and I figured it would be a good way to combine his interests.

However, I had a list of reasons we couldn’t actually make a gingerbread house today. We don’t have any gingerbread on hand/a kit (nor the money to buy one). Now, we could always make our own… but gosh I hate the feeling of ginger bread dough. I love baking, I love making things from scratch, but I hate the feeling of that dough so much. I just can’t bring myself to make it from scratch anymore. Plus, Caleb and I have both been dealing with a lot of allergies and I didn’t want to jinx our progress by putting some sugar (or corn syrup, aka the thing I think we’ve been reacting to) into our bodies.

So I had to get creative. I looked up and saw a bag hanging from our window. Yeah, I know that’s weird, but it’s up there to be out of reach. The bag contained pompoms, and this idea popped into my head. I grabbed some cardboard and cut out a house pattern. Hot glued it together, and called Caleb in. He was so excited to make a house. I had him pick each pompom and where it would go, then I hot glued it. He asked for a door, and boom we had a “gingerbread” house that he could actually play with.

Once he got it down and was playing with it, he kept saying, “I’m so excited!” It’s been an hour now and he is STILL playing with the house. Nothing better than DIYing a toy your kid really likes/wanted.

Happy Holidays!
You are Loved!

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Paw Patrol!

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Not the best pictures ever, but these are the best I have right now… and I still love them!

Remember when Caleb was obsessed with Mickey Mouse? Well, that obsession hasn’t ended, but he has a new obsession along with it… and that’s Paw Patrol! Constantly my sweet boy is asking to watch “puppies!”

It all started after a doctor’s appointment. His doctor’s office has a toy machine, and he selected a little puppy toy. He brought that thing with him everywhere for a while, and would talk about puppies randomly through out the day. I remembered hearing about this Paw Patrol show, so I pulled up a clip on YouTube, and it was love at first sight for my sweet boy.

Ever since I’ve been trying to get him more Paw Patrol themed things, because it makes him so happy and joyful. His honest appreciation each time he receives something new is beyond sweet.

On Black Friday Corey found these pajamas at Walmart for cheap, and it was the first Paw Patrol gift Caleb received. Now this child of mine is a total mini me when it comes to clothes. He hates wearing them! If he had the choice, he’d be naked all the time. These pjs on the other hand… he’d prefer to never take them off!

Then for Christmas we were able to get him the stuffy Chase after finding an amazing deal on it. Chase now goes EVERYWHERE with him: school, bed, errands, etc… He also got a little Marshal in his firetruck toy from a wonderful friend of mine. It’s one of his favorite things ever. He also got five episodes of the show off of Amazon, so he could finally watch the actual show instead of just snippets.

Recently someone gifted me a Walmart gift card to buy clothes. After shopping through the website I did find a few things, and ordered them, but I had another $20 left and wanted to spend it on my little love. I ended up ordering him a backpack, sippy cups, and a shirt! The cups came first, and he was so excited. Now everything he wants to drink MUST be in the cup or he won’t drink it. Today the back pack came. I showed it to him, and he was just in awe. He kept running his fingers over the characters and smiling. He really needed a new bag for school, he has been using my diaper bag, so this couldn’t be more perfect. I am excited for the shirt to come next week. It has all of the pups on it, and he’ll really love it I’m sure.

I just love seeing him happy. He doesn’t get a lot of new things, but I really try to get things he’s going to care about and use. I could go to the dollar store and get him new cups or a back pack… but I’d rather spend a little more to get him something that will make his heart explode with happiness and thankfulness. It’s such a beautiful vision for me. I just had to share, because I can’t stop smiling at him hugging his back pack.

Let’s Read!

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When I was a child, I had very few friends. What I did have though, were books. I would spend all of my free time laying on my bed, snuggling my cat Bootsin, and reading the newest book to hit my library. I remember one time in fourth grade I stayed up all night to finish The Guardian from Nicholas Sparks in one sitting. I bawled my eyes out, threw it across the room more than once, and still remember the emotions I felt reading that incredible book.

Caleb seems to be following in my book loving footsteps, and that makes me so excited. Every night he grabs his Daddy Hugs book by Karen Katz, and he reads it with Corey. He’s learned how to count to ten with that book, and understands what each of those numbers mean. Throughout the day, he will grab many books for us to read together. He’s a big fan of “First Word” books, because he likes to identify items. Recently he has started reading very basic words (cat, hat, all, ball, etc.) so we’ve started working on the kind of books that have about three words each page, and many words are repeated. He’s loving it. He’s also picked up quite a few sight words, such as “pizza.” Last night, Corey brought home a pasta meal that said Pizza on the box. The box had no hints that it was pizza flavored, but Caleb saw the world and started cheering for “zaza!”

For Christmas Santa brought him something fantastic, and I so wish I had a picture of his face opening it. He was grinning from ear to ear when he opened up the Big Book of Booboos (Doc McStuffins) from V-tech. He loves Doc, but this is a really fantastic tool as well. There are multiple settings. One teaches the words, another teaches the first letter, and then there is a game setting to test these things. Each page has a sentence about the section, which when touched will read aloud what it says. It’s in book form, and a real favorite around our house now. I love toys like this that help inspire reading skills!

I’m not a fan of forced reading, and I don’t expect him to read proficiently any time in the next few years. Reading is about finding a world besides our own, learning many different things and hobbies, and also spending time with those we love. Reading is about experiencing something that we don’t always have access to. We can learn new skills, find inspiration, and reading can even influence our future.

There is a man named William Kamkwamba from Dowa, Malawi who was too poor to attend school. This didn’t stop him from borrowing books from the library, and teaching himself to build a windmill from spare parts. That windmill brought electricity to his whole village, and earned him many scholarships and grants to attend college. I highly recommend his Ted Talk. Reading helped this man create an incredible life for himself!

To end this post, I’d like to share some of my favorite tips for reading and early literacy. If you have any book recommendations, please share them with me!

  1. Make sure books are always available by setting up a book shelf in every room, including the bathroom.
  2. There are many phone apps with interactive books, similar to leap frog’s old reading systems. My favorite, which I currently only have the trial for, but will be investing in around income tax time, is called “Endless Reader.”
  3. Both sight words and phonetics are important. Sight words for important things you see everyday, but phonetics allow you to read anything and everything.
  4. My favorite beginning reading tip… When learning the alphabet, you can start with the names of the letters, but even better is to teach the letters as sounds.
  5. Breakfast time is a great time to read. Set up a small magazine rack by your table, and you’ll always have something even more interesting than the cereal box.
  6. Let your children see you reading. If they see that you love it, they will too!
  7. Most importantly… it is okay if your child won’t sit down while you’re reading out loud to them. Let them play or run around. Just keep reading! Reading is fun, and shouldn’t be turned into a chore.

The Best Human Being I Know

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This incredible human being is someone we lovingly call Mimi. Her name is Misti, and she was born on February 6th, 1967. Her younger sister, Robyn, was my mother. Now, Mimi is the woman I consider my mother, and my child’s grandmother. I am one of at least 21 people who feel this way, despite not being grown in her womb.

As a child, I spent an incredible amount of time at her house. A good chunk of age three and four, and every weekend or school holiday through sixth grade I was guaranteed to be at her house. She had these super powers to know whenever I was about to get in trouble for something from my parents, she would just appear and grab me up. I’ve heard stories of when I was a baby, my mum put my diaper on way to tight once, and my legs were losing circulation. She appeared and remedied the situation immediately.

This amazing woman was not only my savior, but a savior to many other children. Her and my uncle made a choice early on in their marriage that they wanted children. Not being able to conceive originally led them to look into fostering. When they went in to start, they were told to look around their neighborhood, and that’s just what they did. This woman ended up taking in children, with a variety of ages and special needs, at least twenty one times. She never received any help from the state, but gave them, and me, the most amazing childhoods. There was one kid that they took in who had many problems… He was still wetting the bed, and on many medications when he first came to them. By the time he left, they had gotten him off all of those medications and helped him grow into a strong, hardworking man.

She took me camping, taught me to cook, showed me how to shave my legs, and what a body positive attitude looked like. She showed me that growing your own food is magical, how relationships are supposed to feel, and that you should never be ashamed for how your brain and body work. She taught me how to love, forgive, and move on. Never once did she ask for anything in return. Her entire life has been about giving.

When my moms died, six and a half years ago, there was no question. I went straight home with her that night. Not only had she just lost her sister, but she now had to deal with a teenager who lost her parents, and wasn’t overly willing to gain a new one. She was so ready to be my parent, and give me the world, but I was not ready to let someone be my parent. I had spent so much time being an adult that reverting back to a child was hard for both of us. I did things I wasn’t proud of, but she never stopped loving me and fighting for me. When others told her to give up, or spoke harshly about me, she stood her ground and defended me.

She has been through more hardship than the average person, and dealt with a lot of selfish ungratefulness. She now has a biological daughter, and still gives her love to others. Her home is open to those in need, and she’s the first to offer help when people are in trouble. She finds herself hurt on a regular bases, but continues to have a shining heart.

My Mimi is the most amazing person in the world. The picture I chose is one she might not like, but I truly love it. Her smile, watching my son and her daughter open their Christmas presents, is so genuine. It’s a reflection of who she truly is. It shows her inner beauty, as well as outer. I love her, and just want her to know how grateful I am to have her as my mom.

Christmas With Littles

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I am so in love with this small human. Watching him “open” gifts was the absolute sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. He was clueless. He would have been completely content with watching his Auntie Pae Pae open her gifts. He didn’t understand why he was being given so many things. He’d open one and just want to play with it instead of opening the next one.

Christmas was really great this year though. We had been so worried the months leading up to it, worrying we wouldn’t have much to get him anything good. When asked what he wanted Santa to bring him, he told us very specifically, “Puppy Chase!” A quick google search showed that we had two options for a plush Chase. There was a really mediocre one for cheap, or a really nice one for $40 that was way out of our budget. We decided on the mediocre one, but didn’t buy it right away. When we went to a local surplus store, called Mardens, we ended up finding a huge blessing. The $40 puppy we wanted so badly to get him was there… for $13!! We snatched it up, and were floating on air till Christmas time.

On top of that awesomeness, one of my kind friends sent us a $35 gift card to Amazon to help make a happy Christmas. We ended up buying laundry detergent, some canned food, a headset for Corey’s Christmas gift, and the Big Book of Booboos from Doc McStuffins for Caleb. Then another kind friend sent Caleb a Marshal in his Fire Engine toy from Paw Patrol. That little Marshal is his favorite thing of all. He hasn’t stopped playing with it!

We were truly blessed, and the day itself was very low key and happy. Family was not stressed, and even my Nana was in a good mood, which never happens.