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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Helping children write and recognize letters

Sweetpea can sing you her ABCs without a hitch, but she has struggled somewhat with letter recognition and writing - probably because I'm not quite sure what approach to take in teaching her...so recently I came up with an idea that is working well and I wanted to share it!

We love to craft in the problem solvin' house, and there's nothing like glue {and even better, glitter!} to get Sweetpea jumping up and down excited to create. Now that the weather has warmed up, I've moved the messy crafts outside onto a drop cloth. Mama can breathe a bit easier and our craft sessions inevitably last longer this way. It's also nice to be able to rinse off in the baby pool afterward!

While Sweetpea has been dripping and smearing glue and glitter to her heart's content, I've been making letter sheets like the one above. One sheet for each letter, and once they dry I put them in a plastic sleeve and into our new alphabet binder. The sleeves are perfect for two reasons - they help contain the glitter, and they allow Sweetpea to trace the letters as she practices. Using a dry erase marker allows her to practice over and over on the same sheet, and she can "feel" the letter with her finger and with the marker as she traces. I've also been adding pictures that she can hopefully identify, and as she practices making her letters we think of as many words that start with that letter as we can.

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Eat better, America! {and win $25}

Many of my posts center around the many aspects of leading a healthy lifestyle. With summer fast approaching, we're gearing up to get out and enjoy the nice weather. It always seems easier to get active and eat healthy when the sun is shining and the temperature is high. With that in mind (and the fact that I'll be hanging out in a swimsuit quite a bit in the next few months!) I would like to share with you one of my favorite resources for healthy living -the Eat Better America website? I registered on the site a year or more ago, and absolutely love it as a resource for healthy recipes, articles on healthy living (diet, nutrition, fitness, etc) and even coupons. Right now if you register to "Healthify your dinner" you'll be entered for a chance to win a $1500 grocery sweepstakes. Think the odds of winning the sweepstakes are a bit long for you? Maybe you'd like to enter to win a $25 grocery gift card here, then?!

To enter, register at the Eat Better America website and come back and tell me what you like best about the site. That's it! For extra entries, you can also:

“Like” the Eat Better America Facebook Page

Follow Eat Better America on Twitter Follow me on Twitter Tweet about Eat Better America and this giveaway (once per day, please leave the direct link)
Subscribe to Problem Solvin' Mom
Don't forget to leave an extra comment for each extra entry. This giveaway is open to US residents only. Please make sure I can contact you to let you know if you've won. This contest ends at midnight on Monday, May 31. Good luck!

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Smiling thru the stomach flu and other various ailments

This little one is such a trooper. She makes me smile through the most frustrating and exhausting of times - what a true blessing. She is teething, has a sinus infection and the antibiotics are giving her tummy trouble, but through it all she is bubbly and enthusiastic. The only way to tell she isn't at her best is she wants to be held, which I am happy to do!
And big sis is little miss sunshine 99% of the time too, even through the stomach flu and a 103 degree fever. Here I was showing her the fine points of taking a self portrait, which she thought was too much fun! It definitely helped take her mind off of the sickies.

We've watched way too much tv, mama has been trying desperately to keep up with school work through her own sinus infection and stomach flu (I forgot how much I hated having a high fever myself, yuck!) and there hasn't been time for much else except my desperate attempts at disinfecting things. Hope to see you more later this week!

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Introducing Solids - how to help baby try new things

I've heard many times and experienced first hand that when introducing new tastes and textures it helps to have patience! If at first you don't succeed, try again in a few days, or try my new trick - mix the new food into a food you've already established and see if that helps.

Today I introduced peas for the first time, just plain peas run through the food mill nad mixed with a bit of mama milk. Since Sugar Plum is eight months now I left the texture lumpy rather than running it through the mill multiple times to make it super smooth. She wasn't particularly keen on this new dish, but rather than giving up I added equal parts applesauce to the mix. All of a sudden it was a big hit! The next time I try peas I will try them again solo. If that doesn't work I will try a smaller amount of applesauce, each time reducing the familiar until the new food is tasty on its own.

Speaking of introducing foods, do you ever wonder what to introduce when, or how much your baby should be eating at a given age? Wholesome baby food is a great resource for these questions and more, including recipes for those mamas looking to make their own babyfood! (it's easier than you think, try it and see!)

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Encouraging kids with Hallmark

Have you seen Hallmark's kids collection? It includes cards and products aimed at kids from preschool through high school. I love that they are fun and encouraging, and another way for parents to stay connected with their kids of all ages. I had a chance to talk to some people from Hallmark while at Blissdom (yes, I'm way behind) and while I've always liked Hallmark as a company, I'm even more impressed now. Want to hear why? Click on the video below...and don't miss the offer at the bottom of this post!

Some are funny, some are sweet, and many even talk to you! This month you can get your first kids collection card for free at any participating Gold Crown retailer.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Peanut Butter & Jelly Popsicles

Making your own popsicles is fun and frugal - we love smoothies at the problem solvin house, and I always make big batch so there is extra for making into popsicles. When fruit isn't in season locally, frozen and canned fruit work wonderfully as well. We decided to mix things up a bit by adding peanut butter, and the results were delicious!

While peanut butter isn't something we want to overdo, the addition of some protein is nice and tasty. We call these peanut butter and jelly smoothies/pops. Everyone gets one small glass of smoothie and the extra gets poured into molds and become peanut butter and jelly pops. One added bonus to making smoothies into popsicles is that they freeze faster - every little bit helps when you have an anxious preschooler who can't wait to eat her frozen treats!

Recently I saw a tip about how to make spinach smoothies when you don't have a fancy blender - if you've seen it please let me know so I can give credit. Basically you want to add the spinach and liquid and let it mash up for a bit before adding anything else. Here is a good basic spinach smoothie recipe, though we have to omit the yogurt for now since I'm dairy free. We add spinach anytime there is some in the house. It works well with any fruit combination and adds a subtle flavor without being overpowering. Sweetpea loves the bright green color and mama loves the added nutrition. We come up with seasonal names for the spinach mash that starts out each smoothie - it's been leprechaun juice and is now spring green power juice!

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