Archive for March, 2012

A Year Ago Today

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

A year ago today we said goodbye to one of the sweetest girls.  Ms. Bella Shoemaker has been dearly missed in the last year, but her legacy lives on.


When we swing, we talk about Bella and how much she loved to swing.

When I am laughing and playing with Mikayla I think of Bella and her beautiful smile and contagious laughter.  I can still envision her laughing each time she would "toot" on someone  or how she would take her chopsticks and slide them through her hands over and over again!  She was an amazing young lady who taught us all about how to fully embrace life and live with courage!

So today Mikayla is wearing a hand me down dress worn by Bella and we randomly say one of her favorite phrases:  Eat Up a Toe!


Her wonderful mother and my dear friend has recently started a non-profit in memory of Bella.  It is uniquely named (unique like Bella) The Eat Up a Toe Foundation, Inc. .  How appropriate!  She is raising money to help aid families who are battling cancer in their child.  She is amazing just like her daughter was!

They are having a fundraiser for the foundation on April 28 in Bowling Green – Spring Swing and Fling.  Check out their FB page for more details or do a Google search!

Posted in Life |

This Week’s Happenings 3/19-3/25

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Not much new or exciting happened this week.  The most exciting thing was that Ben came home!  Mikayla was so excited to see him, although to be honest I think she was most excited about the gifts he brought home for her!  She racked up and is loving every minute of it.  Let’s just say that we have plenty of toys, candy and extra items to last us for awhile!

Other than Ben’s arrival, we kind of laid low for most of the week.  I acted as "secretary" for a couple of strategic planning meetings and worked on some typing for the childcare staff, but other than that we played and hung out.

I just wanted to give a little shout out to my dad this week.  He resigned from his position as head coach of the girls basketball team in Somerset (from where I graduated high school).  He has been coaching girls basketball for 20 years or so (not all at the high school though).  He was even my head coach in middle school!  He was a great coach, but he was so much more than a coach.  He really believed in the players and worked hard to make them successful (both on and off the courts) and helped to shape them into beautiful citizens.  Not many coaches would ask their players to help out with a community dinner for the homeless on Christmas Eve and have a successful turn out with high school girls actually enjoying themselves.  I know his presence in the basketball program will be missed by all.  I love you dad!


This was the press conference when they named dad the head coach of the girls team years ago.


Some of his first high school girls team members.  I wish I had a picture of our middle school team, but unfortunately it is in an album and not on my computer so this will have to do.

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Posted in Life |

Toddler School–Letter I

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Letter I was a tough one for me to come up with ideas for.  I managed to come up with a few that I think were fun (and somewhat creative).  So, without further ado:

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I made another puzzle from a coloring book page for the Letter I .  She had fun putting together her ice cream cone!

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My mom had sent some insect stickers so we used these to make the Letter I.

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She also sent some of those "Grow-A-Capsules" in the shapes of bugs, but we called them insects.  She enjoyed watching the capsules grow into different insects.

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Since she likes to stamp so much, I wrote out some "I" word and had her stamp the correct letters on top.

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Then we rolled the dice and counted out that many insects.

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She glued sprinkles on top of the numbers according to the number on each cone.

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 At the store last week I found some insect gummies so we sorted these by colors and then by insects.  Of course we ate some too!

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She has gotten really good at writing the letter I.  Although she will sometimes write an H instead.

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I made some colored ice cubes with food coloring and let her use them to paint with.  After painting the I, she then went on to paint 10 other pages!  This kid loves painting!

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I broke back out our Ice cream letter matching game this week.  It had been awhile since she played it.

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Then of course we made ice cream.  I chose to make the individual ice cream in a bag version.  She enjoyed it for the first minute and then got tired of shaking it and I had to finish.

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And of course she had to eat some as well!

Next week we will move on to the Letter J.  Stay tuned!

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Posted in Parenting |

This Week’s Happenings 3/11-3/18

Monday, March 19th, 2012

For the most part our week was pretty uneventful.  We are now less than a week away from when we pick Ben up at the airport and we are so excited!  We have missed him so much.  The beginning of our week was pretty quiet, but things seemed to pick up a little towards the end.

On Thursday we headed into Mbabane with Joe and Joey to try and take care of some paperwork stuff.  I needed to get a Swazi license because my KY is about to expire.  What a process!  Anytime you have to deal with the government here it seems to be a process!  We called ahead to make sure we had all the important documents we needed, but apparently this was wasted.  As soon as we got there I found out I needed copies of more papers and they needed to be certified from the police department.  Luckily I had everything I needed, but ended up running around town for a couple of hours trying to get it all taken care of.  And in the end, I still don’t have a license in hand.  I had to leave all the paperwork and then come back in 1-3 weeks to pick it up.  Crazy!  Oh well, at least I got the bulk of it done.  Just seems silly to drive two hours to pick up a license!  But such is life I suppose!

As most of you might know, Saturday was St. Patrick’s Day.  I am not Irish, but I thought it would be fun to host a St. Pat’s dinner anyway.  So we had the "Americans" over for dinner on Saturday.  Joe cooked corned beef and cabbage, the sisters contributed some potatoes complete with all the fixings and I made Irish Soda Bread.  I also made some rainbow cupcakes.  These have been on my radar for a long time, but they are time consuming so I never got around to making. 

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Irish Soda Bread – four ingredients, no rise time and some of the easiest bread I have ever made.  Plus it was pretty tasty.  I think we will make this one again!

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These guys didn’t the layering I had hoped they would, but they still reminded me of a rainbow.  And what is more important is Mikayla had fun helping to mix the colors up!

In edition to our St. Pats treats we also made granola bars (my friend Lara’s recipe) and my first ever quiche (courtesy of Betty Crocker)!  Both were tasty and hits with those that we shared them with.  I love quiche and it was amazing to me how simple it was.  The hardest part was the dough for the shell, and even that was pretty basic!  I would say I would be making again soon, but unfortunately Ben doesn’t like eggs so it might not happen for awhile.

We got some very exciting news from one of my best friends in BG this week.  I am not sure I can share the news yet, but just know that it was so exciting I actually started crying when she called to tell me.  That doesn’t happen too often!  Congratulations again friend!

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We finished off our Dr. Seuss unit this week and Mikayla had so much fun.  I made some finger puppets for her and they just had to be a part of cooking!  Too cute.  Here she is showing Thing 1 how to add spices in!

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Sporting some new jammies and a book sent from her Mimi and Poppy.  They sent her a couple of outfits and we spent a lot of time on Saturday trying them on over and over.  Plus they sent a really fun Cat in the Hat and Franklin video that she loved.  Thanks again!

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For Steve

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Posted in Life |

Miscellaneous Seuss Activities

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Have I mentioned before how much I love Dr. Seuss?  Well if not, I LOVE DR. SEUSS!  I think he is an extremely creative writer that engages his reader and his characters are super creative!  When I taught Kindergarten we always did a two week Dr. Seuss unit and read as many of his books as we could.  Mikayla has always enjoyed Dr. Seuss, which is why we have spent the last two weeks "studying" his books during our Toddler School time.  You can read about some of our past activities here, here, here and here.  These are just some of the activities that didn’t make it into any of the other posts because they weren’t geared towards any specific book, but just Dr. Seuss as a whole!

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I colored a Thing 1 picture, cut into strips, numbered the strips and she had a fun puzzle to work.  She really enjoyed this and it was easy, so I think we will be doing more of these in the future!

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I placed some Dr. Seuss stickers onto strips of paper and she cut in between the stickers for some fun cutting practice.

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Since she LOVES stickers so much I let her take the extra stickers and place on a quick drawing of the words Dr. Seuss and a Cat Hat.

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I made a color by number that revealed the Cat’s Hat.  She did a great job of coloring the numbers to correct color, but she struggled with coloring in the whole area.  Another easy project we can replicate for future activities!

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Roll An Action Game.  First, I made a dice with six different actions (i.e. clap, hop, etc.)  Then, I laid out some Dr. Seuss number flash cards on the floor. She chose one, rolled the action dice and then completed the action the same number of times as her number card.  She is still not great with number recognition if anyone has any fun activities.

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Posted in Parenting |

Toddler School–Dr. Seuss Cats and Fish

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

For our final installment of Dr. Seuss fun we focused on a couple of my favorite books:  One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Cat in the Hat, and Cat in the Hat Comes Back.

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

After reading the book I had Mikayla put the correct number for fish in each numbered fish bowl.  I had planned to have her paint or stamp them, but stickers were easier on this particular day.  If you look closely at the picture on the right you will see a glimpse of our Horton made from a toilet paper tube.

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Cat in the Hat

We made the obligatory Thing 1 and Thing 2 craft by painting our hands.  I still want to play a balancing game with her where she tries to balance objects like Cat in the Hat, but we managed to run out of time again!

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Cat in the Hat Comes Back

We made a Cat Hat with the letters of her name.  She liked it so much, we had to make hats for some of her princesses out of strips of paper and toilet paper tubes.  Pictures are terrible, but you get the idea!

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I made some finger puppets today while she was napping, but they did not turn out as planned.  The cat is not black because I didn’t have black pipe cleaners.  And the noses on Thing 1 and Thing 2 are a little large, but oh well.  I still think Mikayla will have fun with them!




I had also planned to do some stuff with The Foot Book, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.  If we do, I will post about it later.

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Posted in Parenting |

Toddler School–Horton and Hop on Pop

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

We have continued our Dr. Seuss study this week with a few more popular titles:  Horton Hears a Who, Horton Hatches An Egg, Hop On Pop and There’s a Wocket in My Pocket.  Here are our activities:

Horton Hears a Who

We began by reading the book and then making a clover with a speck.  She is still playing with the clover and is amazed the speck never falls off!  I didn’t have any glitter this year which I usually use for my speck, so I just put a drop of hot glue and it works great (even easier than the glitter).  Then we grabbed Horton and watched the movie.  Please note that my daughters choice of snacks for the movie watching were plain noodles.  Too funny!

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Horton Hatches An Egg

She was a little disappointed after this reading, because there wasn’t a movie to watch.  She thought there should be!  We settled for making a Horton character out of a painted toilet paper tube and some foam.  I did not manage to get a picture of this, but I promise it was cute!

Hop On Pop

We read the book and then got out some bubble wrap for her to Hop on Pop(s).  She had a blast and kept popping for several minutes!

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There’s a Wocket In My Pocket

This was a last minute addition to our study because we found it for pretty cheap in Jo-burg last weekend.  We read the book and then played a game.  To play I put six items on a cookie sheet.  Then I had her close her eyes and removed one object to put in my pocket.  When she opened her eyes she had to guess which object was missing.  She did great at this game and we played several times back and forth.  Eventually she even started adding more items while my eyes were closed…clever girl!

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I have just a few more activities up my sleeves so stay tuned!

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Posted in Parenting |

This Week’s Happenings 3/4-3/10

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

This week was an interesting one…it was our first week of three without Ben around.  He flew out on Monday for the US and won’t be back until the 24th.  We had an interesting time getting him on his flight and had to change some of our plans at the last minute!

The weather last week was supposed to get a little crazy.  There was a tropical cyclone (hurricane) that was off the coast of Mozambique and predictions were that the winds and rain were going to hit Swaziland on Sunday and Monday and hit us hard.  They were calling it the worst storm in 30 years!  With this prediction we felt confident that Ben’s original flight out of Matsapha here in Swaziland would be cancelled due to high winds and rain.  Since we didn’t want to risk him missing his first flight we decided to drive to Johannesburg (where his second flight would leave from) on Sunday and spend the night so he could catch his flight on Monday.

We packed up the truck early on Sunday and made the trek south (about a 6-7 hour drive).  We enlisted the help of Joe since Ben was sick and I wasn’t thrilled about driving in Jo-burg.  So thankful he tagged along!  When we got there on Sunday Ben, Mikayla and I hug out at the guesthouse while Joe went and did some shopping.  That evening we went to great restaurant for dinner.  It was a Mozambiquan, Portuguese, Brazilian combination restaurant.  And besides Mikayla acting like a rotten toddler, we had a great dinner.  On Monday, we left Ben at the guesthouse (they ran a shuttle to the airport) and hit up one of the many malls in Jo-burg to do a little shopping.  I wasn’t in the clothes shopping mood, but did manage to snag some tortilla chips, pretzels and blueberries.  Ah…the little things in life that make you so happy!  We made it back safe and sound to Swaziland about 8:00 that evening and all crashed quickly!  Turns out the storm turned at the last minute and we didn’t even get any rain!  Oh well, better safe than sorry I suppose.  Plus I got some tortilla chips out of the deal so all is well!

I feel like we have survived the first week pretty well without Ben.  Mikayla has been really good and besides getting up or calling for me 10 times each night all has been well!  We did have one incident this week when Mikayla pooped in the shower.  When I got onto her she said she only did it because Daisy told her too.  This does not bode well for peer pressure in the future if she is taking commands from a figurine!

We didn’t do much baking this week, but we did manage to try our hand at some homemade Poptart Minis.  They don’t really taste like Poptarts, but they were delicious.  Basically it is just a pie crust that you fill with jam (or in our case Nutella) and then bake until golden brown.  You can see the full recipe here.  Mikayla had fun rolling out the dough and forming her own Poptarts. 

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We even had some fun this week playing in a box!

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First it was a hat…

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Then a car and eventually a bed!

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Ben has also been able to post several videos on his blog.  You can check out the link here if you are interested in seeing them. 

Posted in Random |

Toodles Activity Board (From Mickey Mouse Clubhouse)

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Now that we have satellite, Mikayla watches a couple of cartoons.  One of them that she loves is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  She actually has little Mickey and Friends characters that she plays with daily.  They are even regularly part of our bath time routine.  If you are unfamiliar with the show, there are couple of key phrases.  Like:  "Super Cheers", "If you’ve got ears, say cheers" and "Oh Toodles".  Mikayla will regularly repeat these and act out scenarios from the show.  She will also spend a lot of time during the day asking me what she should do.  So I decided to create her an activity choice board, and what better way than to incorporate Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

In the show there is a machine that appears when the characters say "Oh Toodles".  And on Toodles are four objects that will help them in their journey or activity.  Once they choose one to use, they say "If you’ve got ears, say cheers"!  And then once they are all used they say, "Super Cheers". So I decided to make Mikayla a Toodles board with four choices of activities.  Next time when she asks me what she should do, I will call "Oh Toodles" and let her decide!

To create all I did was cut a piece of cardboard out in the shape of Mickey Mouse.  Then I took some scraps of felt I had on hand and hot glued them on.  I took the rest of my cardboard and cut into squares and then drew on pictures of activities she could do (I am not an artist, so no fair making fun of my drawings).  I then put Velcro on the back and voila you have a Toodles Activity Choice board!  (The extra activities were placed in a bag and stapled on the back of Toodles).

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The bag is filled with additional choices that we will rotate into the board.

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Exploring Toodles for the first time.  I think she likes it and is excited about it!  She held onto him for the whole time she watched cartoons this morning!

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Posted in Parenting |

Toddler School–More Dr. Seuss

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

For this installment of Toddler School we will focus on two more Dr. Seuss books:  The Shape of Me and Other Stuff and Dr. Seuss’s ABCs.  Like before, we read the book and then completed the activities.

The Shape of Me and Other Stuff

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We made shape noodles.  She chose four of her favorite shapes and I drew them on some paper.  Then she traced them with white glue and glued cooked noodles on top.  She kept talking about a noodle eating poodle while doing this (from Fox in Socks) and she insisted on wearing her silly socks!

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Then we took side walk chalk and made the shape of stuff by tracing them.  In this picture you can see her tracing her baby doll. 

Dr. Seuss’s ABCs

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We made letters in salt.  We also just played with the salt!

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We worked our Dr. Seuss ABC puzzle.  We also went on a letter hunt around the house.  She wasn’t really into this so I didn’t get any pictures.

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Posted in Parenting |