Tuesday, September 29, 2015

STEM Storiez

I was asked to check out STEM Storiez and I'm really glad I was, because we will likely incorporate these into our homeschool preschool lessons.  STEM Storiez are accessible STEM e-books for young children and children with special needs.  I took a look at their website to learn more and discovered these e-books are really pretty amazing. 

From their website:  STEM Storiez is a set of switch-accessible e-books focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). STEM Storiez incorporate narration, interactive visuals, animations, sound, and adjustable print into an accessible format for inclusion of all children with or without special needs. The unique interactive methods incorporated into STEM Storiez are designed to support the diverse learning needs of children, while making learning fun and interactive.  Touching the screen activates the interactive visuals and sounds – each touch provides a different experience. Or use Zumo, a lovable and huggable smart toy made by engineers that makes the math and science come to life.

Using this technology, a child can learn math and science without even really realizing they are learning, which is really the best kind of learning, don't you think?  STEM fields are so important, and this is an area where I struggled as a child, so I want to give my kids every possible advantage I can.  An interactive e-book that helps teach them math, shapes, money, and so much more is something I can certainly get behind.  And one that uses a plush turtle to help with those lessons is even better.  So check out STEM Storiez and see if it is right for your child.  I'm pretty sure that turtle named Zumo is going to be under our Christmas tree this year.    

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dear Nathan (3 years old)

Dear Nathan,

How is this even possible?  My heart, my love, my little baby.  You are 3 years old!  Time flies when you're having fun - it's so true.  Since you came screaming into our lives, time has gone so quickly.  When I think about the last three years, I can't help thinking the next three years are going to go just as quickly.  Then you will be 6.  And then three more years and you will be 9.  It's almost too much to bear, to think of you growing up so quickly.  To think of you being 6, or 9, or 12... or 21.  It's scary and sad and exhilarating all at the same time. 

I can see pieces of the you that you are going to become - and that person is remarkable.  The way you look at me with such love.  The way you are so gentle with your brother and with the dogs.  The way your eyes and nose crinkle when you're being funny or smiling your giant cheesy smile.  Your brain is amazing.  Having conversations with you, hearing your jokes, the unbelievable comments that come out of your mouth, are some of my favorite things in the entire world. 

You are, and always will be my heart, my love, and my first baby.  The boy who made me a mother.  The sweet baby who nuzzled your face into my chest and the big, bold, boisterous boy who crawls up into my lap and lays his head on my shoulder.  And when you are 6, or 9, or 12 or whatever, I want you to know you can always come to me.  You can always trust me.  You can always tell me whatever is on your mind.  Because you are my boy.  And I am your mommy.  Today, and always. 

Happy birthday, little love. 

A sweet children's book

I was asked to review this book, What Do I Do Well? and I'm so happy I got a chance to read it!  This book is just absolutely wonderful. 

It begins with a young girl's excitement and worries about starting a new year at school.  She talks about missing her best friend from the previous year and hoping she will be in the same class.  The first assignment is to draw a picture of what the student does well.  She thinks about all the things she does well and comes to a very sweet and wonderful conclusion.

I enjoyed reading this book because it has a lovely story and beautiful illustrations.  As a mom, it was very heartwarming to read a story that ends with a child realizing the greatest thing she can do is give love and to care for someone else.  This is a fantastic story to read to or with an older sibling. 

This book is by author Patricia Franklin and is available for preorder right now at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  The book release date is October 22.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

I posted this photo on my personal Facebook page a few days ago and had people asking for the recipe.  I had no idea this would happen, nor that this beef stew would be recipe-worthy, otherwise I would have put it on the blog already!  It's one of our stand-by recipes that we have at least once a month.  The leftovers are great lunches for the week and it is really delicious.  It's also super simple.

I just saute some minced garlic in a pan, then throw the stew meat in there to brown. I use the big package that they sell at Sam's. Brown it, then throw in slow cooker with some baby carrots. Seasonings can be anything you like. McCormick makes a seasoning packet for beef stew that I used before we got married, but Jon doesn't care for it, so now I just throw some spices in there. Usually some garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, etc. I make sure it is covered with some sort of liquid - either beef broth or water, and put it on high for 4 hours. I then cut up half an onion and 4 small potatoes (peeled). Cook for 3 more hours on high. The stew meat is falling apart by this time. The carrots are nice and tender and so are the potatoes, without becoming mush.

I serve it with some kind of bread, usually French or Italian with butter and garlic or Italian seasoning, but even regular wheat toast works. That's what we had the night I took this picture because I forgot to buy a fresh loaf of bread, lol.

Super easy and very good.

Don't have a slow cooker?  Where have YOU been?  ;)  It's okay, now is the perfect time to buy one, since we are headed into Fall, otherwise known as soup/stew season!  Check out this site for great slow cooker ratings and reviews.  You can find tips for choosing the best slow cooker for your needs and lots of ratings and reviews of all the top slow cookers on the market.

If you try this recipe, let me know how you liked it in the comments!

Thursday, September 03, 2015


So I'm just going to put this out there.  I did photos on July 1, but didn't really start trying until August.  While I still have a LOT of work to do, seeing a difference, even a slight one, makes a difference to me.  At first, I couldn't see it.  After talking to some people about the pictures and having some of the changes pointed out, I feel pretty good about it.  You see, all I can see is FAT.  But others are seeing something else.  I need to work on this blind spot so I can see and appreciate the results of hard work.

I have no idea what my starting weight was in the first pics.  I know I am down 5 pounds since August 1.  I'll take it.  And I'm going to keep it up.  120 pounds left to lose. And I am determined to do it.