The Best-Kept Secret

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's been soooooo long!

I haven't realized that I haven't been posting for so long. It's been over a year!!!!
A lot has changed...
Pumpkin now is a very happy kindergartener wishing to go to school 7 days a week. She spent half a year in pre-K beforehand which made her transition smooth. She adores her young and talanted teacher and tries really hard always to do the right thing.

Recently I came across a great idea I want to share with you. Swag bucks! You heard me. ;) Basically, after connecting to this website you do your usual stuff on the computer only you search through their search engine. There is a whole system how you can earn swag bucks: by searching, taking polls, watching their swagTV.

Search & Win

You won't become rich but you can make a little something, and "a little something" helps.
Oh, and you can promote it on your blog (like I did :) ), through your social network profiles, and via email. It is like a pyramid effect: the more people you refer, the more money you'll make.

You are online anyway so might as well get the most out of it.
Please, if you are curious, click on the link and it'll open up a new opportunity for you. I hope I could help you and your family.

Connect through my link and become my new business partner. ;)

It is that easy!
Thank you and Good luck!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Craft Ideas

Thanksgiving sneaked up on me this year. I admit it.
I had a whole lot of ideas for Thanksgiving but we are running a little late.
I used this book to see what is out there.

Some crafts in it are easy enough for 3 year olds.  Some are more involved which is more interesting to 4-7 year olds. 
I usually see something I like and make something my own inspired by what I've seen. Today Pumpkin and I made salt dough ornaments(not from the above listed book).
To make salt dough you will need:
1 cup salt
11/4 cup water
3 cups flour

Dissolve the salt in the water and add the flour. Ta-da! Done!
Use cookie cutters, rolling pins, play-dough tools to work with it.  This is art so anything goes.  After you are done decorating your ornaments, put them on the cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and bake at 300F till they are hard (about 40 minuts, maybe more).  Paint the cooled off ornaments with acrylics or even tempera paint.  If you want to add that extra shiny finish, coat them with Mod Podge.
These are our Thanksgiving Turkey and a Rose(there is always room for roses, no matter what occasion it is ;))

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Melissa and Doug - Thumbs up!

I like Melissa and Doug toys SO MUCH I can't even describe it to you.  I want to become a child again to play with them.  There is something in the simplicity of their toys.  It feels good holding them in your hands.  They are very well built wooden toys so if you buy one you can be sure that it's going to be in tip-top condition for the younger sibling as well. 
I ran into this Melissa and Doug Lacing Bear set and thought it might be a good idea for Pumpkin to have something like that.  We did try lacing activities that involve old postcards and a hole-puncher but honestly, she was more thrilled about making holes than lacing.  This toy was a big hit right away.  Pumpkin couldn't wait to get home to play with it.  It is perfect for little girls because it has a number of girly (princess, ballerina, cheer leader) outfits and accessories along with a cowgirl and a soccer uniform which I like for breaking those gender stereotypes.  There are 17 pieces all together and 2 extra-long shoe-laces for lacing.  It is very affordable and durable.  The only  minus is the wooden box it comes in doesn't have a lid to keep the pieces in place.  After we unwrapped it we ended up with a tray.   For now it is just sitting on the table until I figure out the storage solution for it.
Christmas is around the corner.  This set would make a great gift for girls from 3 to 7 years old (it says 3-12 on the package but I doubt that 12 year olds nowadays play with toys like this one).  And for those who have little boys in the house Melissa and Doug has wonderful lacing sets as well(shapes, road signs, trucks...).  Just hop on their web site!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Comments Rock!

I just love, love, LOVE awards!  Who doesn't, right? I am a new blogger and I am still learning about blogging and the whole bloggosphere.  I have a couple of awards and I value them a lot. They remind me that sometimes I get it right. LOL.
This award is very personal to me.  And the way Blue Cotton Mom from Blue Cotton Candy put it "... making friends is hard work. It means risking rejection by extending friendliness. We do that with our comments. We can either give cruise-through comments or really sit down and have a dialogue".  I do read a lot of posts and I do try to comment a lot as well.  Reading other people's blogs is getting to know those people and their personalities.  I've made "blogger" friends that I keep an eye on and check on once in a while( by following their blogs) to see what they are up to. 
Good commenting is taking time and reading a post, getting into the topic of it and speaking up your mind.  It is not just plain "great", "i like it", etc.  Every time you see a good comment (you know the one I am talking about) you really, really appreciate it.  And yes, you want to go back to that blogger and get to know him/her better.
Here are the people who take pride in their comments and they need to be rewarded:
Tammy @One Pink Fish
Linda @My Trendy Tykes
Nicole @Tired, Need Sleep
Georgine @Life on James Street
Christine @Propeller Head Mom - A Geeky Mommy Blogger
parentingBYdummies @parenting BY dummies
And if I could I would give this award back to the person who granted me with it.  Silly... But Blue Cotton Mom practices what she preaches.
These are the rules of getting/giving the reward:
1) Put the logo on your blog/post.
2) Nominate bloggers who take pride in commenting.
3) Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4) Let them know that they have been nominated by commenting on their blog.
5) Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.
Thank you all for the wonderful impact you leave in the blogosphere.  Keep it up!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reading Comprehension For Beginning Readers

When it comes to beginning readers, the most important thing is to not discourage them.  You want to raise a lifelong reader not somebody who is able to read if he/she has to.  Children should fall in love with books from the early years when he/she is being read to.
What do little ones enjoy in early books?  Plenty of colorful illustrations, a captivating but rather simple story line filled with situations they can easily relate to and kiddie humor. Children also like patterns and repetitions.
The requirements for early readers are almost the same: illustrations, a simple story line, repetitions and in addition, large font.
Children usually have their favorite book characters and it would be so great and helpful to have the same characters in the books they are about to read all by themselves to make the transition easier, wouldn't it?  Guess what?  Not only they make beginning readers with those beloved characters but also practice books and activity books.
Pumpkin and I have been using a wonderful reading workbook from SPECTRUM series Reading Grade1 where children can learn to comprehend very simple texts and do exercises with their favorite chracters created by Mercer Mayer.

  Who doesn't like Little Critter?  And speaking about illustrations, there is no shortage of them.  They accompany the little passages of text to help your child understand the plot better.
The workbook is for 1st graders but it depends on the level of reading your child has reached.  If he/she can read level 2 readers, knows the phonics - it is good to go.  This is how it looks inside.  The texts get more challenging as you go further which is exactly what you want.

I think, I got it at Barnes & Noble.  It was a great purchase.  The book saved me a lot of time looking for readers with exercises on the back.
You might want to give it a try. ;)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pollock-Inspired Salad Spinner Art

A couple of weeks ago Pumpkin started taking seasonal arts and crafts classes.  Now, she wants to do art all the time. We are running out of tempera paint!
  I felt like doing something abstract with her and thought about Jackson Pollock.  He was a "human spinner" holding buckets of paint in his hands and spinning around on the canvas creating his works of art that way(you can give it a shot on a summer day on your back yard). Yesterday we did some less messy Pollock-inspired art using a salad spinner. It's fast and a lot of fun.
All you need is:
  • a salad spinner
  • non-toxic, washable tempera paint
  • paper circles, cut to fit the bottom of your salad spinner( or paper plates if they fit)
What you do:
Open your spinner and put the paper on the bottom. Splatter/pour/drip any kinds of paint of any color in any pattern or non pattern at all(how cool is that!).  Then, put the top back on and spin it!  Open it up - ta-da!  Your art is ready.  All it needs now is some time to dry.
And do you know the best thing about it?  It never gets old because it comes out in a different way every time!
Here are some things that came out of our salad spinner.  We did a couple of them using "fall" colors. 

Here are some Jackson Pollock links you might find interesting: (Pollock interactive: create your own Pollock with a couple of mouse clicks)  (very interesting about if there is a  structure in his art)


I hope all of you will have a lot of fun with it.  Unleash your inner Pollocks!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Pumpkin has a thing for testing me lately.  Yesterday she wrote down a number of math equations for me.  It was my "homework".  And I want to admit that she doubted my knowledge of basic math when the answer to her 2-20 was -18.
Today I had a different test...
She came up to me and gave me a paper explaining that I needed to choose the correct answer.  Here is the paper(please, don't mind the poor quality, one of these days I'll invest in a good camera).

I had two choices: "I love you" and "I don't love you". LOL.
I chose the "I love you" one and looked at Pumpkin. She had that look that teachers have when their students do well on the test.
She also told me: "Mommy, I need to teach you".  LOL.  I guess, I'm past due for some "upgrading".