Teaching Heart Mom

Just a Mom With a Teaching Heart. Find fun activities to do with your kiddos and students (infant to age 10). www.teachingheart.net blog

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rolling Out Treats and Fun With Idioms.

It has been a rainy weekend here in the Pittsburgh area. I told my daughter yesterday that I wish it would stop raining cats and dogs. She looked at me funny and said... "It is raining water not cats and dogs, Mommy!" I explained to her that I was just saying something silly. My son started in on the conversation and said, like when you say, "My spelling words are a piece of cake?"

One of those a-ha moments for mom: My goodness, my son listens to me... So of course I had to explain to him a big third grade word. IDIOMS! Then I had to read him a fun book that would show him more idioms. My girlfriend who teaches fourth grade, told me about this book. She explained how much her fourth graders enjoy the book. Some of the stuff was over my seven year old's head, but could be explained. I use idioms often, so he enjoyed hearing and seeing the pictures of the ones I often say. Even my husband laughs at me when I tell him he is a card when he says something sarcastic... so he enjoyed the book too.

Since it was raining cats and dogs, we played a dice game about cats and dogs. Both my three year old and seven year old could play this game together. i helped my three year old play.

Basically all you need is dice, two crayons, and this free printable sheet from Teaching Heart.

Children take turns rolling the dice and marking off the cat and dog treats as they go. The first person to color in all their treats is very lucky and has fed their cat or dog well. Once you see the activity sheet, you will see this activity is a piece of cake and a fun way to end a rainy day - it's icing on the cake!
What idioms do you use in your everyday speak?

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

7 Habits of Happy Kids...

I enjoy reading my kids books that promote good character traits. Last year I shared Have You Filled a Bucket Today? with my son's teacher and it became a hit in his school. This year his school is focusing on, The 7 Habits of Happy Kids. After hearing about these books from my sons principal, I could hardly wait to get my hands on these books.

I was pleasantly surprised after reading this book, Just the Way I AM. It focuses on one of the seven habits, Being Proactive, "You're in Charge."

In this story, The character Pokey the Porcupine is sad because Biff Beaver is making fun of him. At first Pokey feels sad from the teasing and decides not to go to school to avoid the problem. Soon his friends try to convince him that he is fine the way he his. In his own time, Pokey decides that he likes himself the way he is. This new found confidence makes Biff the Beaver back off the teasing.

This is a great book to have on hand for the time your child runs to you and says something like, "Mom, Sally said that my teeth are funny looking!" Pull it out and read it to your child and then discuss the situation and how Pokey handled it. Your child can learn through Pokey's actions. A bonus about the book is the discussion questions in the back of the book that will get you talking with your child. Plus there is a section for the parent to read that offers helpful advice how to deal with the situation of helping your child deal with teasing. It is perfect for parents! I loved the thoughtful questions and suggestions.

Both of my kiddos (age 3 and 7) loved the book and enjoyed the cute illustrations. My oldest could read the book on his own, which is an added bonus. This book is defiantly worth buying and having on hand for the given problem, should it arise.

Need Free Bucket Filling Ideas and Printables? Go to:

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Cookie Wedding Tradition

If you have ever been to a wedding in Western, PA then you have probably seen a cookie table at the wedding. All the weddings I have been to in this area always have a cookie table. I grew up going to many weddings in PA so I am use to the cookie table thing. However, when you tell out-of-staters about a cookie table, they look at you kind of strangely. I have been to many out of state weddings and one thing missing at all of those not in the Burgh weddings is the.... yep, cookie table. One thing is certain- the cookie table is a tasty addition to the wedding reception that is probably unique to Western Pennsylvania.

My good friend Nancy is nick-named the "Ball Queen" for her awesome buckeye balls she makes. She makes the best and they always look so perfect. She recently made a ton of cookies for her nieces wedding and she was kind enough to document the day with a nice blog and pictures to match. Thanks Nancy!

A Cookie Tradition

My oldest niece, Danielle got married last Saturday. It was a terrific day for all of us. She married a wonderful guy named Tom who she met on Match.com a couple years ago. He met our entire family two years ago at the wedding of her younger sister. We are not always the quietest family and there were many stories from that wedding that were extremely memorable. Let’s just say, he was a keeper if he came back after that weekend! Now, on to the tradition. If you have ever been to a wedding in western Pennsylvania you know all about the cookie table. Family and friends bake for weeks before to put out a spread for all the guests. I had one at my wedding 17 years ago, my niece Diane had one two years ago that I baked for and I did the same for Danielle this time.

My contribution this time around was about 65 dozen cookies. Iced sugar, peanut butter blossoms and peanut butter balls (aka Buckeyes)

consistency. I used teal icing in the jar from Michael’s. It was dark so I did my best to marble it with white. Teal was a really hard color to match and find. I usually use non-pariels on the peanut butter balls to match the occasion but teal ones could not be found. So I used white chocolate and some with white non-pariels. I didn’t really like either but they still taste good.

I will include the recipe for the peanut butter balls at the bottom of this. However you can go to the closest store for the recipes for the other two. Betty Crocker is the best! I use the bag mixes for all of my sugar cookies. It’s cheap, easy, and quick and best of all they taste great. For the iced sugar cookies, I use an icing made from powdered sugar and milk. Add the milk by tablespoons until it’s the right

For the peanut butter blossoms, used good old Betty again. Hershey no longer makes the mini kisses for baking but I had some left over and used them on some of the cookies. I used the chocolate disk melts for molding chocolate on the rest. I really liked how they looked. I don’t like to use full size kisses since I make my cookies more bite sized by using a smaller cookie scoop.

On the Friday before the wedding we all met at the hotel where the reception was being held. There were 9 of us including the bride, groom, their mother’s and the 7 month pregnant matron of honor. It only took us about 45 minutes to get all the cookies on trays and covered. Many hotels don’t like doing this so they charge an obscene amount of money so everyone does them on their own. Some of the cookies were bought, mostly the thumbprints, but the majority were homemade. The morning of the wedding my sister’s in law brought more cookies from Delaware and Michigan. I believe there were some more from the groom’s family as well.

After the ceremony, the reception was held at the hotel. They did a great job setting up two tables one either side of the ballroom. My sister, Micky, supplied Styrofoam containers so the guests could take some home. At the end of the evening there were still a lot left. Some guests took full trays home with them. We had about 7 large trays left when it was all over. We took them to the party room for breakfast the next morning. My 7 year old thought that was the greatest! Pop and cookies all at 7 am, every child’s dream breakfast. The remainder went to the school where Micky works on Monday morning.

It was a wonderful time for our whole family. We wish the bride and groom all the best in life!

There were a lot of things that I thought were great ideas. They may not be original but they were new to me. First off, for the bridal shower, I emailed friends and family of the bride and groom and had them send me favorite recipes. I then went to Kraft.com and made a personalized cookbook. I was able to put a picture on the cover of the couple. It was really nice. Tastebook.com also does a similar item but I’ve not looked into that site.

Instead of place cards for guests with a boring Table #12 on them, Danielle and Tom had the tables named for meaningful things in their life. Each table had a picture frame with a photo of the name of the table. For example, the Neil Young table had a photo of Neil Young on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine. The Penn State table had a picture of the Nittany Lion and so on. It was interesting because there were things you knew about the couple and some things you didn’t.

The couple chose not to have favors at the reception. Instead they made a donation to the Eye and Ear Institute of Pittsburgh. Several years ago, before the couple met, Tom had been in a very serious bicycle accident. Even though he was wearing a helmet, he suffered a severe head and eye injury. He was in a coma for a time as well. Fortunately he recovered and is doing well now. This was their way of saying thank you.

Danielle and Tom had an awesome photographer. Her name is Randi Voss. http://www.randivoss.com/. At the reception, she had a laptop with pictures of the ceremony on a slide show. With in the week many pictures were on her blog under Danielle and Tom’s name. They are gorgeous and we’ve spent a lot of time looking at this wedding and some others.

Peanut Butter Balls (AKA Buckeyes)
1 # powdered sugar
18 oz jar creamy peanut butter
3 TBSP milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 stick melted butter
1 pkg. semisweet chocolate morsels(12 oz)
1/4 of one cake of Gulf Wax
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips and wax until smooth.Mix together powdered sugar, peanut butter, milk and vanilla. Shape into 1" balls. Dip into chocolate 1 at time. Place on wax paper covered cookie sheets. Decorate with non-pariels. Refrigerate until firm. Can be frozen.
Gulf wax can be purchased in the baking aisle.Dipping tool is available at Michaels.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Great Wolf Lodge Giveaway....

Have you ever been to the Great Wolf Lodge? Everyone who I know that has been there has loved it! I never hear a bad word about the place... I know my family would love it there. My son missed out on the last few weeks of summer swimming due to an arm in a cast, it would be so great to get some swimming in this winter. (Do I get a pitty entry -- just kidding!) Plus, lately my son is into Magic and the Great Wolf Lodge has a Magi Quest that looks so awesome. I have been trying to convince my hubby to go there with the kids... so far he isn't game... but if it was FREE because I won this great giveaway at a Piece of Me, then he would have to go! I really want to win. My friend, Jill just shared this with me. That was extra nice of her considering I entered all the ways I could! Plus I found a new fun blog to add to my reading list. You should check out of Piece of Me!


From Apples to Applesauce

Last weekend we went apple picking. It was a first for my kids and they LOVED it! They had lots of fun running through the orchard and picking their apples. The next day my son went to school and it was his library day. I always love to look at the books he picks. Most of the time he gets three and they are always Non-Fiction. For sometime he was bringing home books on Spiders. Just when I thought we had read every book his school library had on spiders, along comes another spider book. It got to a point where I had to tell him to pick another topic. Then it was the Navy. He would bring home a Navy book every week. This week he brought home three books... One was on Space, one was on Halloween, and another was on Apples. He picked the apple book because we had just been to the apple orchard and he saw a recipe in the back of the book for applesauce... So we used the recipe today to make apple sauce and it was GREAT and EASY! A fun recipe to do with kids...
If You click the first picture above you can see the super Easy Recipe... Basically, take four apples (core & peal & cut them). Place them in a half a cup of water and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes. Then add a 1/4 cup of sugar and a pinch of Cinnamon. So easy and so yummy.

It made about four small cups of applesauce. Also the book from Apples to Applesauce is very good... with lots of good facts, vocabulary, and pictures.

Labels: , ,

Friday, September 18, 2009

Magical Birthday Parties!

I LOVE parties!!! Cannot stress that enough. Always have since I was a kid. I love fancy table clothes, balloons, decorations, and the happy feelings! I remember as a kid making confetti out of a hole punch for a week so I could throw it at my friend on her birthday. As an adult, I LOVE planning a party or hosting an event. It can be stressful, but the fun and the final outcome out weigh the stress.

This year I got the best award for my party madness... as I was working on the favors for my sons party, my son came to check out the goods and said; "Mom, you always make my parties so fun and you work so hard for me!" That made it all worth it!!!

My kids will only want the themed parties for a few years... pretty soon they will be all grown up and I hope they will think back to their birthdays with fond memories. I love seeing my kids light up at their birthday parties. Some people probably don't agree will my method and may think I am spoiling my kids... but I don't think so... Birthdays are special days and is their one day to feel like the king or queen on the day... The rest of the year, it normal and we try not to live with lots of glitter and glitz.

Well, this year I took the easy road (unlike last year and the year before), for my son's 7th Birthday Party and had the party at an Ooogles and Googles instead of our home... Totally stress free for me. All I did was make the favors. My son choose the theme of wizards. The party was so much fun. All the party goers became wizards. Dressed in the wizard hat an all. They even had the opportunity to make a magic potion that bubbled up (baking soda and vinegar in a mini cauldron). The kids had a blast, my son loved it, and I just took pictures and enjoyed. Wow!

My only contribution was the goodies bags. I love making goodies bags for my kids parties. The picture above shows this years goodie bag. It had a Star Wars Pez Dispenser, Magic Wand Candy (from Oriental Trading), Eye Ball (Oriental Trading), Magic Stickers (Oriental Trading), Box of Tricks (Michael's Dollar Bins), skull candy bracelet (Michael's). I bargain hunt all year for treats to put in the bags and every year I make a CD of my son's favorite songs. This year most of the songs were sports related... WE are living in the CITY of CHAMPIONS, you know! I love make the CD label and collecting the songs in one place.

You can view my Cars, Thomas, Spiderman, and Star Wars CD's Too!

Every year, my mom makes her famous cookies... Below were this year's magic cookie... They were yummy.

In the past she has made; trains, spider man, and darth vader cookies...

Another birthday tradition I have is that I make my kids cakes every year using the Wilton Pans. People think it is so hard... but really it takes time, but is easy to do. I love the finished product. This year was Scooby and Little Mermaid!

Hopefully you will find an idea or two you can use for a party you are planning! Have fun!

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My New Toy

So, I did it... I finally broke down and got a Blackberry Curve... My first Blackberry. I really wanted the IPhone but my hubby wasn't for that... well, he wasn't for either to tell you the truth. He loves me too much and I know how to get him to say yes. *WINK* So after months of warming him up and then $300.00 worth of birthday money falling into my lap, he gave in and let me get one. I will tell you I am in love with my new pink little friend. I knew I would be! I am connected 24 hours a day. When I love it most is when I am in the drop-off or pick-up car line at my daughters school. Now instead of just listening to music, I can reply to personal and business related emails. Since I got it about two weeks ago, I feel it has saved me hours of time. I hardly ever need to sit down at the computer anymore. Plus, I love the calendar on it and how it beeps to tell me when I have something to do. I also love how I can go online ANYTIME! Like yesterday in the grocery store when I forgot a recipe, I just looked it up online at the grocery store. Yeah, I'm COOL!

I have lots to learn about my Blackberry... I need to take time and see if I can find an app. that deals with weight watchers and keeping track of foods eaten. If you know of one and how to use it, let me know. I would also love to find an app. that tracks exercise details. I have to figure the whole app thing out -- I will later!

I haven't researched how this could help people in the education profession. I am curious how teachers use this.

Funny, when my girlfriend saw it laying out the other day she said to me something like; "You aren't going to be one of those people that have to check that thing all the time, are you?" I explained to her that I have rules. I have to have rules because I don't want to be one of those people out to dinner with the girls and on her Blackberry. I love my friends and family more than my Blackberry... So here are my rules...

No checking or sending email while driving - not even at a red light.

No checking or sending emails when out with friends or family -- no mater what!

No checking or sending emails when at someones house.

Facebook can only still be checked no more than 3x a day total via computer and/or Blackberry... (I had this rule before my Blackberry, because I started to have a problem).

Do you have a Blackberry? Do you make rules for yourself? What are your Blackberry tips for me?

Labels: ,

Friday, September 11, 2009

Never Will Forget...

To think eight years has gone by. It is such a vivid memory in my mind still. We all have stories of where we were on that day in history. I was in bed in Silverdale, WA. All the way across the country. I remember my husband was just about to leave for work (he was an US Navy Officer on a Submarine at the time)... He turned on the TV and soon he was in the bedroom yelling for me to come out and watch... At this time the first plane was the only plane that had hit and like a movie, a few minutes later we watched live as another plane hit. I think we both just sat there wordless and in horror and disbelief. I went to work that day to teach grade 2. My husband went on to the Naval Base. I remember hearing the news while I was making copies for class that day that another plane had gone down in my home state of PA. I of course, checked on all my family in PA to make sure all was okay.

The following year, my son was born on the day before the first anniversary of 911. We were in New Jersey for his birth and many of the nurses and doctors had family members who died in the tragedy. I was still in the hospital on the 11th and no one had a baby that day at that hospital. It was strange and quiet there.

I will never forget that day and all the lives that were taken. I pray for the families of those lost. May God continue to bless them with strength and courage.

"You can be sure that the American spirit will prevail over this tragedy." --Colin Powell


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Pumpkin in So Big!

Seven years old today! What? Where has time gone? If the next seven years go as fast as the first seven, I will have a 14 year old soon.

This little guy has grown quite a bit since these pics. were taken... but he is still my baby! He may drives me crazy on some days, but on most days I smile and thank God for the gift of his precious life.

I close this post with a song I loved when he was a baby by Twila Paris and the words still ring true.

"Your Whole Life Long"
I pray the Lord will hold you close and keep you through the night
That you will wake up smiling in the early morning light
That He will always comfort you and make you brave and strong
I pray that you will follow Him your whole life long
I pray that you will grow up to be wise and good and true
I pray that you will please the Lord in everything you do
I pray that you will hear His voice and learn to sing His song
I pray that you will follow Him your whole life long
I pray that you will follow Him
I pray that you will follow Him
I pray that you will follow Him your whole life long
I pray the Lord will bless you with His presence every day
I pray he will protect you every step along the way
Help you love what's right and lead you far away from wrong
I pray that you will follow Him your whole life

Happy Birthday Butter Man! I love you!

Labels: ,

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fall is Coming

Yesterday we were trimming trees and we found some red leaves... o, my! Fall is coming. I love Fall, it is my favorite season. I just wish winter did not follow fall. If we could skip winter all together, that would be fabulous in my book. Back to fall; I love all the fun activities at the local farms (Trax, Simmons, Triple B), I love the craft fairs(Covered Bridge, Washington County Holiday Fair), I love mums, I love Halloween, and I love the cool feeling in the air... I could go on and on about all the great things fall has to offer.

I want to share some quick Fall links for you all to check out. Most have free printables, crafts, lesson ideas, and/or more!

Blog Fun:

Fall Recipes off the blog:

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Set the DVR for a Ride on Dinosaur Train

You know PBS has been doing some good advertising when my three year old tells me she wants to watch the new Dinosaur Train series. This series premieres on Monday, Labor Day. I am betting that this show is a hit with the preschool boys... Dinosaurs and Trains in the same show - brilliant. Henson is producing the series. It looks really great. I love PBS shows and thought I would share this for you to check out on your kiddos day off.

Go here for more details on the show!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dress Up a Tray of Cookies!

Just a fast, frugal, and fun idea I came up with when I did not have a paper plate to put cookies on that I wanted to share with a neighbor...
When you take yummies to share, make you own plate that matches a theme. All you need is a piece of cardboard. Wrap the cardboard with wrapping paper and then decorate it with stickers.
I used back to school stickers on my homemade tray.
Then place your yummy in the center.
Wrap the tray. Add a bow and a card if it is a gift.
We made ours for a neighbor who has shared many of their home grown veggies with our family.
Ta-da, you have pretty plate you can leave at the party with the leftovers on.
Just think of all the themes you could come up with.

Labels: , ,