Wednesday, August 27, 2014

LDS Church History Tour Guide App Review

I have been fortunate to live in many places full of LDS Church history: San Diego, to where the Mormon Battalion marched; Utah, where the Mormon pioneers settled; Arizona, also settled by Mormons; and now near Palmyra, New York, where Joseph Smith saw the First Vision.

One of the biggest LDS Church history sites in the Midwest, where Justin grew up, is Nauvoo, Illinois. He has been there many times. The first time I went to Nauvoo was after we got married. We went with Justin's family as part of our honeymoon. We saw the pageant and went to the temple. It was so muggy and buggy, I couldn't imagine living there in pioneer times.

Joseph and Hyrum statues outside Carthage Jail, where they were killed

Justin and his parents outside the Nauvoo temple.

There are many other historical sites in that area that I have yet to visit but would love to once the boys are older. To make the road trip more oganized and fun, you can use GuideMe Travel's new Church history tour guide app for traveling from Independence, Missouri, to Nauvoo, and vice versa. The app includes a GPS-based audio tour, which can be played manually if you don't have GPS and also includes a written script; sites to see, including their contact information, hours, prices, and ratings; a map; and FAQ.

*Very thorough tour that not only includes historical and scriptural information but also specific directions to, photos of, and helpful tips about the sites, such as when to visit and if restrooms are available.  It also keeps track of sites visited.
*The female guide's voice is very articulate and moderately paced for easy listening.
*I appreciate that the script is available to view as well so you can read it if you missed hearing it and don't want to listen again or if you are more of a visual than auditory learner.
*Very easy to use!

*Only compatible with Apple products.

You can buy the app for $4.99 at the App store or through iTunes. For more information, visit

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Paper Plaza Mini 3D Card Giveaway [CLOSED]

Here is the third, and final, review and giveaway from Vishruti's Etsy shops. This time it is for her paper shop, Paper Plaza:

I was born with a love for all things paper and developed a keen sense of environment conservation at a very young age. I got into crafting as a kid, but my interest grew more during my teens. I would typically be interested in paper, glitter, packaging, re-using, artistic design, poster making--what we call today communication design. 

Paper Plaza is all things paper with a touch of India and personal style. I love sourcing these wonderful Indian envelopes with lot of character. I make sure that they are of great quality. People use them as note card holders, gifting sets, envelope systems, etc. 

The first items listed were little handmade notecards. They sold very quickly! They surely carry a lot of emotion and "cute" with them. The whole idea of creating something so small and cute is awesome.  Each card is a piece of art, special and unique in its appearance and ready to ship--and they all ship free with another item!

Vishruti sent me this mini card and scrapbook flowers to review:

*I love that the card is so small. I don't like writing meaningless or repetitive phrases on a blank card just for the sake of filling empty space, so these tiny cards are perfect for when you don't have much to say besides congratulations and your name.
*Very cute designs and lovely colors. The 3D look makes the cards classier and professional.
*The scrapbook flowers add the perfect Indian flair.
*Great customer service as always!

*Some of the jewels on the flowers are off center.

Enter to win any mini 3D greeting card! Open worldwide.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 25, 2014

Gabriel's First Birthday

Justin's family came into town for Gabriel's first birthday. Saturday we took them to Nicky Doodle's for ice cream, which they thoroughly enjoyed. Sunday we played Catch Phrase (lots of cheating went on!) and watched Emma Smith: My Story.

enjoying cherries

Monday we went shopping while Justin played in a tournament with his dad caddying for him. I found a shirt and snow jackets for the boys, and Caden got to go on the carousel with Keilani. We stopped by Sam's Club before heading home. (I can't wait for Costco to open in Syracuse!) We ended the night with Saving Mr. Banks, a very touching story.

teething bling

Tuesday was the big day. The men were at the tournament again, so we took the boys to the rec center and then made banana cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, with a hint of brown sugar and cinnamon. Best frosting ever!

We ate at the casino buffet and visited the pro shop where Justin works. It was very nice and the view was gorgeous!

Once home we sang to Gabriel and gave him a plain cupcake, which he waited to eat until after we finished singing and then happily devoured, unlike Caden at his first birthday (or this one, for that matter. He just licked off the frosting.).

first bite

Gabe got Baby Signing Time DVDs from my mom and the peas from Toy Story 3 from Titi Kirsten.

Wednesday we went shopping again and had the missionaries over for dinner. Later I made sticky popcorn and we watched Epic. I must say, I was very happy that everything I cooked for my in-laws was a hit!

Thursday we toured the house we originally were supposed to move into. The upstairs is pretty, but the entire downstairs needs to be remodeled. After naptime, Caden got his birthday gifts: play swords from us and a plasma car from Justin's family. All were the same colors, teal and light green!

The family left early Friday morning. We had a wonderful time together and the boys enjoyed all the attention and gifts.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How to Teach Your Child at Home Using Everyday Activities

Photo by Peter Galbraith

You don't have to spend money on preschool or be a seasoned homeschooler for your children to learn about the world around them. You can make your home a place of learning by turning everyday opportunities into chances to teach knowledge and skills.

Why not start with the things kids interact with most? Any toy can become a chance for subtle learning. Pretend to care for stuffed animals to emulate caring for pets; note the shapes, sizes, and colors of toys; try to figure out how some toys work or are made; play with blocks to explain simple physics concepts. There are endless possibilities! Let your child's play guide you.

Board Games
Board games are easy ways to incorporate math and other academic skills. Chutes and Ladders and Hi Ho Cheery-O! are excellent for counting and introducing addition and subtraction. Uno teaches preschoolers to match numbers and colors, and Candyland is perfect for reviewing colors as well. Matching games are good for teaching word recognition too, not just pictures.

Other Games
Other home and travel games make great learning opportunities. I Spy teaches children to observe and describe their environment. Hide and Seek helps children practice counting, searching thoroughly, and using their sense of hearing.

Puzzles are fun ways to learn matching, from the simplest illustrations to complex puzzle pieces. They're great for reviewing geography too.

Almost anything can be learned through song, not just the alphabet. Use tunes to common children's songs to teach names, dates, and places--even math!

Books are oceans of knowledge just waiting to be charted. There are so many creative nonfiction books too, making information that can be boring or difficult to understand and remember into fun, attainable, and memorable. 

You can find anything online, especially on YouTube: how to make things, how things work, where things come from, what things look and sound like, etc. You can also learn American Sign Language. Don't have Internet or suffer from poor video quality? Borrow or buy educational DVDs, like the popular Signing Time.

Make technology your educational friend with learning games and shows. PBS Kids is a favorite at our house. Even do something as simple as making a password your child's name so he or she has to learn to spell it to use the computer or other device.

Around the House
Use measuring to explain math and cooking to explore science. Teach your children life skills, like doing laundry, cleaning, sewing on a button, budgeting, etc. Plant a garden to watch how things grow and die. Let your children help you fix things (or watch a professional do it). Hang maps, graphs, and charts in the kitchen or bedroom for quick reviewing of knowledge. Play musical instruments (or make your own) and create art together.

Free Community Activities
Go to reading time at the library for social interaction and to discover new books, songs, and themes. Attend free classes, workshops, festivals, markets, parades, museums, and events in your comunity to expose your children to new hobbies and ideas.  

Out and About
Count stairs you climb, talk about the weather, find different modes of transportation people use. Make anything into an observation, an explanation, or a game --or a question to explore together if you don't know the answer. Take the time to listen to your children to find out what they are interested in.

What do you use to teach your children at home?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

5 Cooking Tips

Just some random but useful tips to make cooking easier!

1. If you lack a vegetable steamer, use a mesh strainer instead. Cover it with a pot lid for quicker steaming.
2. Don't have any eggs to coat food with before breading it? Use mayonnaise instead!
3. Use ice cube trays to freeze lemon or lime juice and fresh herbs in olive oil so you always have some on hand.
4. When you buy meat, cut, portion, and store it all the same night so you don't have to take the time to do it (and clean up the mess) the next time you cook meat.
5. Wash your hands with toothpaste to get rid of garlic and onion odors.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Truth about Lactivists

In honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month I want to clear up common misconceptions about lactivists (lactation activists). I do not speak for all lactivists, and I am sorry if you have been treated rudely by any breastfeeding advocates.

Myth: Lactivists judge formula feeding moms.
Truth: Lactivists judge formula companies. We understand that formula is a needed and life-saving food for many babies, and because we care about babies getting the best, we demand more responsibility and accountability from formula companies. False claims, incorrect breastfeeding advice, recalls, and unsafe preparation guidelines are avoidable problems moms should not have to face.

Furthermore, we want to help women make informed choices. While we support the legitimate needs many have to use formula, we do not think moms should base formula feeding on perpetuated falsehoods such as formula and breastmilk are not different, breastfeeding is disgusting or sexual, or breastfeeding ruins breasts (which, even if it did, I unapologetically think is a very shallow reason not to do it). We are here to give the knowledge and support some women need to make the choice to breastfeed.

We are also human, so things we say or do may be insensitive and we apologize for any hurt feelings or judgment passed.

Myth: Lactivists believe that only 2 percent of women cannot breastfeed.
Truth: True, but that doesn't mean we believe breastfeeding is easy and natural for the remaining 98 percent. It may only be possible after an overwhelming amount of time, effort, money, help, pain, frustration, supplements, pumping, etc., which not all women are understandably willing or capable of doing. Or it may not be possible due to problems the baby has. So yes, only 2 percent truly cannot produce any milk at all, but many more women experience setbacks that make it just as impossible. Even those who have mostly easy breastfeeding journeys experience at least one problem, like clogged ducts or over supply.

Myth: Lactivists believe all women should nurse in public, uncovered no less!
Truth: Lactivists believe all women should have the right to nurse in public, including uncovered, if they choose to. Nursing rooms are most welcome too since not all women (or babies) desire to nurse in public places or in extreme weather. The point is to make breastfeeding normal and not such a big deal, no matter where or how it's done. We actually don't want all the attention! (Though I'm sure there are extremists out there who enjoy making a scene.)

Myth: Lactivists think babies should be nursed until 4 years old.
Truth: Lactivists support nursing however long both mother and baby are comfortable with. We do not believe in setting an artificial age limit. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends "continued breastfeeding beyond the first birthday as long as mutually desired by mother and child." According to the World Health Organization, most toddlers naturally wean between 2 and 4 years old. Since that is an average, of course there are littles ones who wean sooner and later. The AAP confirmed breastfed toddlers are "certainly still benefiting from the nutritional and immunologic benefits" and "emotional support is a perfectly legitimate aspect of breastfeeding."

Are there any other myths I overlooked? Do you consider yourself a lactivist?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A New Zoo & a New 'Do

Tuesday morning we went to the tiny Utica zoo, a new experience for us after being spoiled with the Phoenix zoo (and the San Diego zoo/Wild Animal Park for me). The flora was very different as well, woodsy instead of deserty. But it was the perfect size for little walkers and had great animal variety, including sea lions, and fun exhibits. The food was really cheap too. It was much better than expected and we had a good time. Caden loved the playground best!

The peacocks got out. I've never seen a white one before!

Yesterday morning Justin cut off Caden's locks. It's always a drastic change because we only do it a couple times a year. No worries to those of you who are upset--his curly q's always grow back, as long and crazy as ever!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Gabe's First Words

Gabe is a gabber and makes lots of sounds, but his first real words as of last week were all done. He learned that phrase because he doesn't like going potty anymore, though he uses it for everything now. At first he pronounced it "ah duh" but now says "ah dun." He can also sign all done, waving his hands up and down just as Caden did. He is finally starting to sign more, though still not consistently. He can do milk perfectly. For more, he taps his thumb against his other palm, and for eat, he taps his palm against his mouth. He still bangs on his chest caveman style for bath. The only other words I think he can say are "wha za / izzat?" (what's that).

First time on the grass

Caden still messes up words very cutely: peena bwead (pita bread), pinano (piano), basketball whoop (hoop), vegebles (vegetables), sunscream (sunscreen), stashew (cashew, confused with pistachio). When Gabe bit me hard while nursing one day, Caden told me to go to the milk doctor, and when I was shopping for a swim suit, he pointed at the bikini tops and said, "Those are for milk." Today he's been going around the house with a set of old keys, calling himself "Lock-Up Man." But the funniest is from a couple weeks ago when he told me I have a big bum bum and it's going to hit something!

scratching his back, as learned from Sesame Street

These boys are just too cute and silly!

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