Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Fun Friday: Have My Cake, Will Eat It Too!

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My mama gave me my birthday cake yesterday. Now it’s up to me to bake it and eat it.

This family joke began years ago when my elegantly aging sweet mama just couldn’t get the energy to bake my baby brother a cake. So I told her she should just give him a cake mix box and the frozen strawberries (strawberry shortcake) and let him make it himself.

That’s become the norm for many birthday occasions, and it’s perfect for me. And we laugh and enjoy the shared memories and fun. Stress is taken from my mama, she doesn’t have to worry about baking a cake, and she can just love on us as only mamas can.

Do you have any funny family traditions? Share in the comment section. Thanks! Have a wonderful day!

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Toddler Tuesday: Pumpkin Spice Play Dough

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Fall and pumpkin season are my absolute favorites! So the other day when I had the urge to provide a fun activity for my two youngest grands (2 and 3 years-old), it was time to knead up a batch of orange, pumpkin spice play dough. This recipe is my old standby, perfect for adapting to any season.

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Pumpkin Spice Play Dough

In a large heat-proof bowl, mix:

3 cups flour

1 cup salt

2 T. oil (baby oil is nice, but vegetable oil is fine, too)

1 T. powdered alum

1 T. pumpkin spice powder

Boil 3 cups of water. Before measuring boiling water, add orange food coloring to measuring cup. Add water. Quickly pour 3 cups boiling water over ingredients in bowl. Use a wooden spoon to stir until dough cools slightly.

Immediately dump dough onto table. It’s hot, but for best results, knead while hot. It will cool off fast enough. It may be sticky while hot, but will knead together nice and smooth. I sprinkled a little bit more of the pumpkin spice on the dough as I kneaded. It smelled so good!

As soon as the dough is well-mixed and cool enough to be safe for young hands, it’s time to play. I have a tub of different play dough tools and toys. I’m not exaggerating when I say my two toddlers were occupied for over 30 minutes. It would have been longer, but we had to leave to get big brother.

Store cooled play dough in a covered play dough container. I love the Costco cottage cheese containers best.

You’re welcome. 😉

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Book Report: Sophie’s Squash

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Sophie’s Squash

Written by Pat Zietlow Miller

Illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf

Schwartz & Wade Books, 2013

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My collection of potential Bernice squash

Meet one of my favorite fall books: Sophie’s Squash.

One day, Sophie falls in love with a butternut squash while shopping with her parents at the farmers’ market. And names her Bernice. While Sophie’s parents have culinary plans for the squash, Sophie adopts Bernice as her child and lovingly, protectively, and firmly cares for her new baby. Plans contradict each other as Bernice matures the way of other squash and Sophie’s parents attempt to put Bernice out of her misery. But Sophie remains committed to the relationship and cares for Bernice in such manner as dictated by squash. And then, surprise!

I won’t ruin it for you, but I love the ending. And the sequel, Sophie’s Squash Go to School, is just as much fun.

What I love: The VOICE of Sophie and the entire cast (even Bernice) is fantastic. I love her character. I adore fall books. I love stories relatable to young children. Everyone knows at least one kid who forms an odd yet endearing attachment to some random item. I love that about this book. I love Sophie and her commitment to Bernice.

Thanks to Pat for this copy of Sophie’s Squash in Chinese! How fun is that?!

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Fun Friday Cereal Necklace

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What craft can you make and eat at the same time?

Circle cereal necklaces!

Materials: yarn, tape, circle cereal, scissors

1. Cut a generous length of yarn that will fit easily over heads.

2. About 4 inches from end, thread and tie a piece of cereal in place to keep cereal loops from falling off the end. On the opposite end, form a needle by tightly wrapping tape around the yarn and cutting off the tip at an angle.

Tip: For really young crafters, I love to tape the end of the yarn to the table. This keeps the necklace from falling off the table and helps them know which end to use.

3. Fill a bowl with circle cereal loops. Show how to thread cereal on the necklace, pushing it down to the knotted cereal. Let crafters add as many cereal loops as they want. I always tell them they get to eat the broken ones!

4. Tie the ends together and trim off the ends. Ready to wear! Snack on the go.

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For older crafters, use colored cereal circles and challenge them to create a pattern as they make necklaces.

SAFETY: ALWAYS remove necklaces before sleeping or playing on playground equipment.

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Throwback Thursday: Ready for Church in the 70’s

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What a masterpiece for mom-all 4 kids nicely dressed and AT the car doors, ready for church!

So many things run through my mind when I look at this photo.

The station wagon, the magical vehicle of weekend adventures with the family and the collie, Jody. Wish she was in this picture! A very cool fact about this wagon was the inclusion of fold down facing-each-other seats in the way back. We used to fight over who got to ride there, whether we were headed to church or not.

The outfits. Mom loved to dress my sister and me in the same outfits. Which worked most of the time. But according to mom, I loved the ruffles and frillies, despite the fact that I was chunky and the extra layers did not make me look slimmer. My sister loved the fitted and slim styles but with her slender build she could pull off all of my ruffles and more. The boys, well, suit and tie for the oldest boy, while poor baby boy sported a bib and belly button baring top. Mini Mr. Green jeans.

Notice my straight hair. I don’t know how that happened, but I have very fine curly hair. Does hair change texture as we age? Frizz is my usual style, so long flat locks were an anomaly. Some pictures, which will remain hidden, at least until they are rediscovered in storage, portray my head full of rollers. Lovely for curls, horrid for sleeping.

Desert. Barren. Dry. Unpopulated. As an adult, I’d love to travel back in time and see how undeveloped and sparse the locations we lived actually were. I don’t remember being far from neighbors when we lived here on Hamel Road. With friends just down the dirt road, this was a homey place to live. I know we rode the school bus every day, but I don’t have many memories of even standing in line for the bus. Later years, yes, there are all sorts of images from hours spent on buses, not all of them nice.

The jeep. Dad’s love. This vehicle was another magical transport, complete with a winch. Up hill, down hill, over gullies, 4-wheeling. Maybe that’s where my daughter gets it from, her love of wheeling. It certainly passed me, as I’d rather be on a horse. But during those early days, we went all over the state to find roads (or not roads) to use the winch to pull us up or help someone else up. Ah, the good old days.

How about you? What picture takes you back in time? Were the days simpler then? I’d love to hear!

 


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Monday Moments: Family Photo Chaos Company

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20 eyes

20 hands and feet

100 fingers and toes

10 mouths (equals 10 voices!)

10 different ideas

20 legs and arms

4 cameras

4 purses

2 pair improper shoes

4 pair glinting glasses

3 mommies, 2 daddies, 5 cousins

Plus: mud, crowds, drippy leaves, slick straw bales, tilting maze, sparse pumpkins, traffic, no hay rides (rain)

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Today’s Monday Moments are brought to you by the Family Photo Chaos Company.

The above stats equal 5 adults and 5 children from 2-55 years old. A list of emotions, attitudes, and energy levels: shy, humorous, pre-teen, grumpy, hungry, tired, excited, crazy, silly, bossy, happy, ready to be done with it all.

This was THE fastest photo shoot. Ever.

Still, I’m smiling. Memories made, images captured, perfection avoided. The Christmas photo shall be selected and enjoyed.

How do you manage your family photo shoots?

 


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via One Writer’s Journey: Organization Optimization

This post by Beth Anderson gives excellent organizational tips for researching and writing for children. I’ve found myself stuck and constantly searching for that ONE piece of paper hosting important story information, so I definitely could use organization tips. Spiral notebooks just might be the trick.

Thanks, Beth!

*Beth’s book is pictured above. Can’t wait to read it!

 


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Throwback Thursday: Colors of Desert Sun

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The opposite of sun-bleached, we were sun-drenched.

Long shadows, blinded eyes, rich dense colors.

Yes, this was us in the early 1970’s. I was most likely in 2nd grade, dressed for Arizona heat. My brother was in kindergarten, already pursuing his unique personality and sense of humor. Little sister must have been preschool-age, but back then going to preschool was not a thing families did.

Yes. That was how our yard was landscaped. Gravel, dust, scrappy weeds. The interesting parts were the critters and wildlife we discovered as we played and explored the desert environments. In this location alone, I remember collecting gallons of tadpoles after desert storms, and hunting horned toads, tarantulas, scorpions, snakes, spiders, jack rabbits, and those scary spider wasps. We also rescued a tortoise from the middle of the road and let him burrow around in the back yard. Thaddeus Humperdinck. That was his name. No idea why.

Yes. Windows open. The weather must not have been too drastically hot, and judging from the distant clouds, we might have recently enjoyed rain. We had a swamp cooler on top of the trailer and I remember lying on the floor beneath it during the hottest part of summer days with my coloring book and crayons, cooling off in the damp wind it created. But in this photo, the time of day was when the desert sun was kissing the horizon, ready to give us well-deserved shade and respite.

Yes. This was a very cool station wagon. Not only a wagon, but a magic vehicle capable of transporting us on weekend family treks to historical, dusty, engaging, scary, crowded, isolated, or deserted Arizona hot spots. Haha, “hot” spots. Soda pop bottles, white bread, bologna, and we were ready to roll. Up hill, down hill, across stretching southwest landscapes, stopping for rare shade trees and dusty gullies, drips of streams and gorges filled with flash floods. Life was an adventure. Include: dogs, kids, play pen, stroller, and avid interest.

Yes. A home on wheels. And we used those wheels to move the trailer several times over our life within the metal, possibly uninsulated, walls. We survived desert thunderstorms, lighting shows, freezing temperatures, snow storms, and heat hot enough to cook (insert your favorite food). Home it was. 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living room, dining room-kitchen, and utility room. Kids lived on the right end, parents on the left. We six (plus critters) crammed a magnificent amount of life into that gorgeous tenement on wheels.

I loved living in the desert, back when heat didn’t bother me and I spent all my days outside, digging in the dirt, catching insects and reptiles, chasing kids in the ‘neighborhood,’ and making up daring adventure stories while riding horseback with my similarly minded friends. The nostalgia of childhood paints beautiful masterpieces in my mind, blotting the difficult times (were there any?) and adding exquisite details to enhance my thankfulness to God for a good, excellent, childhood.

What about you? Which photo takes you back to your childhood?


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via School Visit Resources

Writerly Tip:

When I discover a blog post that I know will be very helpful, now or in the future, and need to keep the information, I often repost it to my blog. I’m not always good recalling which blog posted the article I want to revisit, especially when I only remember the gist. But when I repost to my blog and tag it for my categories, I can refer back to it as needed.

Plus, unlike a printout of the post, the live post gives me access to the live links. Instant gratification!

Thanks so much, Writers Rumpus!

Does you have any tips for organizing online resources?


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Throwback Thursday: Girls Can Do Anything

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This Throwback Thursday post is brought to you by Mission Friends, preschool education, and great activities for kids.

Hammer, safety glasses, wood, apron, nails. Real tools. Check.

Plus supervision.

Add Chelsie, age 5. Ready to go and do some world building. Figuratively (pretend play and exploration) and literally (girls can do anything they dream, including learning to hammer nails and build). I offered this activity to my group of preschoolers in Mission Friends. I never shied away from plans some considered slightly dangerous: hammering nails, melting crayons on a food warming tray, chopping softer fruits and veggies with butter knives. And the kids never let me down. They LOVED doing grown up jobs and took their activities seriously.

How do preschoolers and young children learn? By doing, exploring, experimenting, evaluating, planning, making mistakes, trying again.

My way of doing preschool.

“Play is the highest form of research.” Albert Einstein