Monday, April 28, 2014

5 Easy Ways to Teach Your Toddler their ABCs and 123s + GIVEAWAY

I love being a Mom and I take my job as a Mom seriously.  I feel like it is my responsibility to help my children explore their interests, learn new things and support them along the way.  As a Mom of a 3 year old and a soon to be 11 month old, that means I'm playing a lot of "tractor", "boat" and "rocket ship", and encouraging my kids to take many first steps, literally when talking about my daughter MP.  One thing I'm cognitively making an effort right now to do with my son LP is to teach him letters and numbers.

5 Easy Ways to Teach your Toddler their ABCs and 123s

Here is a simple list of five things I do to help teach LP his ABCs and 123s:
  • Count Out Loud and Often:  We count the number of stair steps we take, the number of bananas we buy at the grocery store, the number of books we check out from the library, etc.  You can find ways to count everyday!
  • Sing Songs:  Along with singing the "Alphabet" song with your toddler, also sing songs like "Five Little Monkeys", "One, Two Buckle My Shoe", etc.  LP learns really well through song.
  • Read Books:  Read alphabet books such as Curious George's ABCsAlphablock, and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and counting books like 1 Little, 2 Little, 3 Little Elephants,5 Busy Ducklings, and Butterfly Colors and Counting
  • Print Worksheets:  There are tons of websites available that have free number and letter worksheets.  My favorites are from Parents magazine:  alphabet worksheets and number worksheets.
  • Bath Letters and Numbers:  Incorporate some "learning time" into your next bath routine with these fun Bath Letters and Numbers from Nuby.

Nuby Mommy Review Bath Letters and Numbers

Nuby's Bath Letters and Numbers are a great bath toy to add to your collection.  Both LP and MP enjoy playing with them, as they float in the bath tub and easily stick to the walls of the bath tub after they get wet.

Nuby Mommy Review Bath Letters and Numbers

It is fun writing LP and MP's names with the letters and seeing LP recognize both letters and numbers.  He especially likes lining the numbers up on the wall.  The foam letters and numbers come in a variety of colors and designs that make the learning experience fun.  The set comes with all 26 letters and 10 numbers.  I would highly recommend Nuby's Bath Letters and Numbers for every family with toddlers.  Our family has enjoyed this product so much that Nuby is giving away a set to one lucky follower.  Comment how you enjoy teaching your toddler their ABCs and 123s and then enter for more chances to win your own set of Nuby's Bath Letters and Numbers:

If you would like to get your own set of Nuby's Bath Letters and Numbers check out  Also, be sure to get connected with Nuby through their various channels of social media:
Also, be sure to check out my Nuby and my "Learning Time" Pinterest boards for more ideas.

I love being a Mom, how about you?  Check out a couple of my favorite posts about being a Mom to now four children:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spreading the Love of Reading

I have talked several times about my love of reading, not only for my children, but for myself.  I have to admit, a few years ago I would describe myself as a light and maybe even a non-reader.  The only "reading" I got in was listening to books on CD while traveling with my job.  After LP was born I started reading to him right away because I knew how important it was.  However, I still wasn't reading that much for myself.  I loved reading but I just wasn't finding time for it.  I knew I couldn't expect my kids to find time and enjoy reading if I wasn't.  So, that is when I decided to start making time for reading and now reading and advocating for reading and literacy has become one of my passions.

I shared that passion for reading last night by passing out 20 free copies of "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail" by Cheryl Strayed as part of World Book Night.  World Book Night is a program where 25,000 volunteers across the country pass out a half a million books to "spread the love of reading, person to person."  This initiative started three years ago with the goal of getting books into the hands of people, like myself a few years ago, who are light and non-readers, and encourage them to read a book.  World Book Night happens on April 23 every year, in observation of William Shakespeare's birthday.  The team at World Book Night works with countless publishers, authors and agents to get specially printed World Book Night editions of many books.  This year there were 36 books passed out.

Spreading the Love of Reading #WBN2014
Getting ready to go pass out "Wild"
Originally I had planned on passing out my books at the sight of the future Latimer Little Free Library to create awareness of the library, but with temperatures in the 40s and rain in the forecast, I decided to not stand outside and instead stop in at the Latimer grocery store, restaurant, auction house and truck stop to pass out my books.  And just like that, in 1 hour I had passed out 20 books and got to talk to familiar and new faces.  I am so proud to be apart of this program and love the reaction for the people who receive the books.  The first reaction is "free, this is really free!".  The second reaction is "this is so cool".  And the third reaction a lot of time is "I should start reading this tonight.  Thanks!".

For me, "Wild" was an easy sell since the book is being turned into a movie to be released this fall staring Reese Witherspoon.  "Wild" is memoir of the author's 1,100 mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail crossing the Mojave Desert, California, Oregon and Washington after her Mom passed away and while she is in a failing marriage.  Strayed was in her mid-20s when she took this journey and she compiled journal entries to create this book.  The book is a biography/drama with a little bit of humor mixed in.

If you would like to learn more about World Book Night and get notified when they start taking applications for "givers" for 2015, sign up for the World Book Night newsletter.  Here are a couple posts that I have wrote about past World Book Night experiences:
The first year I passed out copies of "Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, And A Dream" by H.G. Bissinger to and through my high school youth group and the second year I passed out copies of "Bossypants" by Tina Fey at the local truck stop to travelers from the interstate.

Have you heard of World Book Night?  Have you been a giver or a receiver of a World Book Night book?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Farm Kids

Heading to the field!  Is lunch ready for us?

Thank you to my Facebook Fans that helped me caption this photo for today.  If you haven't liked my blog's Facebook page yet you should like it today!

What caption do you have for this photo?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Celebrate Easter and National Soyfoods Month with Edamame Hummus

Today I'm getting things prepared and ready for Easter Sunday, as I'm sure all of you are too.  My Farmer and I are smoking a pork loin for tomorrow and we're incharge of bringing some sweet corn that we froze last summer and a couple appetizers.  One of the appetizers I am bringing for Easter Dinner is Edamame Hummus.

I chose Edamame Hummus for a few reasons.  First, it is very easy and quick.  Second, I've had a craving for hummus this week.  And third, I love sharing soy recipes, especially during April since it in National Soyfoods Month!  My Farmer and I don't raise edamame but we do raise soybeans.  Edamame is a special variety of soybeans that is harvested immaturely and green, versus maturely, like we do ours.  We let our soybeans mature fully, turn brown and dry in the field before we harvest them.  Edamame is a delicious, healthy and protein-packed bean that can be used in both cold and warm dishes.  You can find edamame primarily in the frozen food section either shelled or in the pod.  If you buy it in the pod be sure not to eat the pod, because they are very fibrous and hard to digest, let alone try to eat.

Edamame Hummus

1, 10-oz bag frozen shelled edamame, cooked
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup canned tan soybeans, rinsed and drained (I couldn't find tan soybeans at my grocery store so I substituted garbanzo beans)
2 Tbsp soybean oil (If you look at the ingredient list on the back of vegetable oil, usually, if not always, the only ingredient is soybean oil!)
2 tsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in food processor an pulse until mixture is smooth.
Serve with favorite vegetables and crackers.  Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Recipe adapted from The Soyfoods Council.

Have you ever cooked with Edamame?  What is your favorite way to eat Edamame?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Friday, April 18, 2014

10 years ago on Good Friday

10 years ago on Good Friday I was a freshman in college enjoying a beautiful spring night and went to a college house party with a boy I was interested in, instead of going to church.  Now I am not a proponent of of skipping church, in fact, I'm writing this post quickly before our family heads to church to celebrate Good Friday (which by the way is one of my favorite church services of the year), but 10 years ago, which was actually April 9th back in 2004, it was one of the best decisions I made in my life.  Because on Good Friday 2004, that boy I was interested in, is now my best friend, husband and father to my children, that "boy" is My Farmer.

My Farmer and I 10 years ago
I just wanted to thank My Farmer for a great and fun 10+ years.  I feel so lucky to have met you our freshman year and fall in love with you in college.  We might laugh when we think back to that first date at that house party, and everything else that went on our freshman year in college, but everything that happened led us to each other and for that I am forever thankful.  Happy Anniversary My Farmer!

Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - North Iowa Baconfest

On Sunday, My Farmer and I attended the 1st North Iowa Baconfest at the iconic Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake.  My favorite bacon samples were the Cookies BBQ Infused Bacon from Fareway Grocery Stores and Webster City Meats and the Peanut Butter Banana Bacon Cupcakes from Grandma Sugar's Cupcakery of Mason City.  We had a great time and look forward to seeing the event get bigger and better for next year!

Enjoying some BACON!
Got Bacon???
My Farmer and I made sure to wear our bacon/pork shirts to the Baconfest

Do you want to learn more about Bacon?  Be sure to check out these other posts on bacon then:

Have you ever been to a "Baconfest" before?  Do you have a favorite bacon treat?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pork Chop Party! + Pork Chops 4 Ways Infographic

It is very common for our family to cook up pork chops when we have family and friends over.  Pork chops are easy and delicious to prepare.  I enjoy to cook them with a simple rub or marinade.  I love cooking pork and sharing about our hogs at home, and tomorrow I'm excited to share about pork at Jethro's BBQ n' Pork Chop Grill in Johnston as part of the Iowa Food & Family Project's "Join My Journey" program.

Iowa Food & Family Project "Join my Journey" Meet Iowa Girl Eats at Jethro's in Johnston Friday, April 11th

I'll be joining Kristin Porter, Iowa Girl Eats (pictured above) and Nicole Patterson, Farm Girl Facts of Life at the event from 11am to 1pm.  If you are in the Des Moines area you should stop by for lunch, eat some pork and register for prizes!

If you can't come to Johnston tomorrow, or even if you can, I highly recommend you make some pork chops for your family tonight!  Spring is the air, which means that our grill and smoker are fired up on a regular basis.  Enjoy the weather and prepare your pork chops outside, or cook them the traditional ways of oven baked or pan fried.  Anyway you do it, be sure to enjoy this nutritious, lean protein with great company (and maybe a side of baked beans!).  Here is an infographic with cooking basics for pork chops:

Pork Chops Cooked 4 Ways - Grill, Smoke, Oven, Stove Infographic

Here are a couple of my favorite pork chop posts - be sure to check them out and fix a pork chop for supper tonight:

What is your favorite way to prepare pork chops?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Crazy Family Traditions

For the last 11 years my extended family had decided it was a good idea to jump in my uncle and aunt's farm pond on the Saturday closest to April 1st.  This year LP became the youngest person ever to participate in the April Fools' Pond Plunge with 36 degree water and 45 degree outside temperature!  LP said it was cold and a lot of fun!

The "plungers" getting ready to go in
Costumes have become a growing tradition over the years
The "plungers" calling all of the observers whips
(My Farmer "volunteered" to take photos and hold MP...)
LP and I are going in!
LP & I all warmed up after taking the April Fools' Pond Plunge!
Does your family have any unique or even crazy family traditions?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Comments for a Cause - Prairie Ridge Church Honduras Mission Trip

Happy April 1st everyone - remember to watch out for April Fools' Day pranks today!  No prank here, it is a new month which means it is time to give my Comments for a Cause results from the past month and introduce a new cause.  So, first thing first, in the month of March I had 51 comments, equaling $25.50 to the North Central Iowa Ag in the Classroom program!  I am so happy that I'll be able to make this donation to such a great organization working so hard to increase agriculture awareness and literacy to over 9,000 students in North Iowa annually.

Now, for April's cause!  I am happy to announce that in the month of April I will be donating $0.50 for every comment to help support our friends, Matt & Jantina, on their upcoming mission trip with their church, Prairie Ridge, to Honduras.  Every time I have been on a mission trip I have received so much wholeness, joy and love from the experience and from God.  I think Matt and Jantina are amazing people and parents, and that is why I wanted to support their mission trip with four of their children this summer.  This is what Jantina shared about their mission trip:

In July, most of my family will be traveling to Honduras as part of a short term mission trip.  We will be staying at the Honduras Children's Home and will be serving alongside them for a week doing things like painting, serving meals, loving on children, playing games, Vacation Bible School (VBS) and general outreach.  Honduras is on of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere!  The country is about the size of Tennessee and has around 7.9 million people.  Approximately 64.5% of the people live below the poverty line.

Facts about my family:  Veronica (12), Jon (8), Halleah (7), Matty (6) and Matt and Jantina are going.  Our youngest son, Barak (4), is staying home.  We are full of hopeful anticipation about this trip!

About Honduras Children's Home:  The Children's Home currently houses 15 children, ages 5-17.  They all attend public school, share in the chores around the grounds and participate in daily Bible stories.  The children do their homework and house chores before participating in their favorite activities, playing in the playground or on the soccer field.  They have a number of buildings on the property and God blessed them with their own church building, which was finished in January 2008.  The building is used for worship and fellowship, as a cafeteria for the people who live there, as well as for the popular feeding program.  It also serves as a clinic for our annual medical/dental team visits.  The school building, which doubles as Sunday school classrooms, was completed in 2012 and has an office, six classrooms, girls and boys bathrooms, and a garden for the children to maintain.  Lastly, they have their own water well.  The well system stretches 195 feet underground and has an output of 50 gallons of water per minute.

Asking for financial support is difficult.  As a family we do not believe in any free rides, so we take this trip and our fundraising efforts very seriously.  And yet, God reminds me time and time again, that we are a body.  While we are called to travel and do action, He is preparing the way and calling others to give prayers and financially.  And frankly, to stand in the way of God, because I am prideful and want to take on the risks myself, well, it just seems foolish.

We are humbled and thankful to be featured as the Comments for a Cause for April.  To be chosen among the many great groups and organizations that you highlight is truly an honor.  Thank you.

If you feel led to give toward support of this trip, you can make your checks out to Prairie Ridge Church and mail them to the church with an accompanying note explaining for whom the funds are given and that it is for the July Honduras Trip.  The church address is:  Prairie Ridge Church, Attn: Dan S., 825 NW 36th Street, Ankeny, IA 50023.  Or access our gofundme site.  As of the end of March we have $800 left to raise.

So be sure to Comment for a Cause this month to help this family and their church's mission efforts in  Honduras.  Also, be sure to check out Jantina's blog as she write beautiful, heartfelt posts on parenting, fostering, adoption, her family's faith journey, and life in general!

Have you ever participated in a Mission Trip?  Where did you go?  What feelings did you feel while on the mission and afterwards?