Jan 26, 2011

4 Year Old's Say the Darndest Things!

Sorry I have been missing the last few days, I have been trying to rest in every moment of free time instead of writing.  I have a cold and a double ear infection.  Lucky me!  Anyway, I don't have any fun pictures to share for Wordless Wednesday so I thought I would share a funny statement my 4 year old came out with today.

We were driving by a construction site so he asked what they were building.  I told him it was going to be a restaurant.  His response was "Oh, as if there aren't enough restaurants in the world."  I could barely contain my laughter.

What funny things have your kids said lately?

Jan 21, 2011

Is Technology Killing Our Planet?

I love being a "crunchy" momma and I love being a techno geek, but can I be both at the same time?  I will let you in on one of my dirty little secrets: I have my computer on (being used or in hibernate mode) and plugged in almost 24-7.  I know it's terrible.  I know my little laptop must be causing a significant draw on my meter (though less than the fridge and dryer) not to mention increasing our monthly electricity bill.  My one saving grace is that we put our money where our mouth is and buy 100% Texas wind energy.  So just how terrible I am being with my computer?

According the US Dept of Energy my laptop draws about 50 Watts probably adding a few extra from phantom load when it's not in use.  To compare to some other "essential" household items: a 27" TV draws about 113 Watts and a clock radio comes in around 10 Watts. If you'd like to see where I'm getting these numbers and see more check out this article on estimating energy use: http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/appliances/index.cfm/mytopic=10040

I figure that if my computer draws 50 Watts an hour it would use about 36000 Watts (36 kWatts) per month.  My last electric bill stated we used 556 kWatts in the month, so it was about 6.5% of our usage. I guess I'm not doing as much damage as I thought with my computer alone, but everything adds up and it was noticeable.  I pledge to do better about turning off and unplugging my computer when it's not in use and finding other ways to decrease power consumption.

What are you favorite ways to reduce energy consumption?

Jan 18, 2011

Learning to Read

My oldest boy is now almost 5 *gasp* and I certainly do not know where the time has gone.  He is a very bright little boy, I swear it's not just Momma speaking! I have had many people (including elementary educators) tell me he will certainly be in the Gifted & Talented program once he gets to school.  That being said, I have one teenie tiny issue...he is just like me!

I remember being in kindergarten and first grade and getting so totally frustrated if I couldn't make something work a certain way that I felt it should, or if an art project wasn't turning out perfectly I would often abandon it, and reading...oh reading was my Achilles heel!  I wanted so desperately to know how to read, but I couldn't and I wasn't getting it the way I was being instructed at the time.  I distinctly remember a time I was trying to read while sitting at the top of the stairs by my play room and getting so frustrated that I couldn't read a simple book that I had a fit and threw the book down the stairs.  I finally got the hang of it after a move and in the course of a year went from barely able to read "The dog sat" to reading Nancy Drew books.

I do think my little man is a bit a head of where I was at his age reading, but I see the frustration in him.  He wants to read but gives up in a fit when he doesn't know a word.  The worst part is I have no idea how to help him!  I remember the feelings but I don't think there was ever any relief other than from myself taking a step back and trying again.  I am trying to equip him with the problem solving skills to master reading without me interfering to much but it's not working.  He knows all his letters, capital and lower case, and he knows most of the sounds they make.  What I can't get him to do successfully is sound a word out.  He will say all the sounds the individual letters make and spell the word but he won't put the sounds together. I often think of giving in to the infomercials for "Your Baby Can Read" thinking they must be able to get him to read.  Then I remember it's just an infomercial which very rarely deliver the results they say it will.

So I ask you: What are your tips for encouraging reading? Did you or do you have a "intense" child like mine that you helped learn to read?  Should I continue repeating the steps he can take to figure it out on his own or just let him be and continue to just read to him?

Jan 17, 2011

Menu Monday?

I've been trying to decide what to write all day.  I wanted to come up with a fitting tribute to the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. but alas the writing bug did not bite.  The only thing that came into my mind was..."Hmmm...I wonder if anyone would be interested in seeing a Menu Monday?" This would be a feature on Monday's where I post my plans for dinner during the week and possibly link to recipes that are online.  So does that interest any of you?

Jan 14, 2011

Eco-Friendly Friday

Over the summer, I had my husband make a compost bin and we have been filling it up ever since! Composting is a great way to reduce the amount of waste you send to landfills and it will help the soil for your plants as well. There are many different composting options out there. There are big recycled plastic balls you can easily turn, barrels, simple wood frames, double bin frames, small boxes for porches (great for worm composting) or even just a pile on the ground! When I was looking into the subject I often visited http://www.howtocompost.org/, but a simple Google search will return many results. Your local newspaper will probably have an article or two on composting in the spring gardening section as well.

Composting is a great way to reduce the amount of waste you send to the landfill. You might be saying to yourself "it's organic material it will decompose at the landfill." Your right, it will decompose at the landfill but will take much longer to do so!  When you put it in a plastic trash bag you keep it away from the elements, then at the landfill they cover it with more trash and dirt.  When your organic material is all covered up it takes much longer for it to decompose.  Anyway, having a compost bin is a great way to get rid of your yard waste and some kitchen scraps while making your vegetable garden or flower beds very happy.

We decided to build our own two-section bin using plans I found online at Lowe's hardware stores (http://www.lowescreativeideas.com/idea-library/projects/Building-a-Compost-Bin-0109.aspx) there are many other plans you could choose from at different sites. We do love our bin and add to it daily. We have a large metal compost canister (with a charcoal filter which knocks out the smell) placed next to the sink so it is simple to just toss our coffee grounds, fruit, and vegetable scraps right into the container then bring it out to the bin once it's full. Our biggest challenge at this point is adding enough brown material, thankfully we were the recipients of a bale of hay after Halloween so that is helping out! I am looking forward to some tasty vegetables to come out of our raised bed garden with some homemade compost turned into the soil during our next growing season! You'll have to check back in a few weeks for that topic though!

Jan 12, 2011


My oldest son has started loosing baby teeth.  The surprising part is that he is only 4 years old, so he is on the early side but still considered normal.  I shouldn't really be surprised seeing how he popped his first tooth through during his third month!  Anyway, I hadn't made him anything to put these lost teeth in.  The first tooth was swallowed (he didn't even know he lost a tooth!) so we just left a note for the tooth fairy.  The second tooth we left a note again so we could keep the tooth for his memory box.  When the third tooth came out I had to get creative and put the tooth in a box for the fairy.  All the while he was pestering me to make him a tooth pillow.  Yesterday, I finally got around to it during his afternoon nap (Thank you pre-school for tiring him out!!!)  I was trying to work quickly so I did not take pictures during the whole process.  I will go through the steps so you can make one for yourself.  This really is a quick & easy project!

Step 1 - Gather your supplies
You will need a sewing machine, thread, sharp needle (for hand sewing closure), pins, sharp scissors, fabric (I used felt so I didn't have to worry about fraying), paper for a template, filling fiber (I used silky polyester), and a fabric marker or embroidery floss to personalize the pillow if desired.

Step 2 - Cut your fabric
I made a tooth shape and a rectangle about twice the height of a quarter and a little wider out of paper.  I then placed the tooth shape over two layers of white felt and the rectangle over one layer of blue felt.  Pin the templates in place and carefully cut around the pattern.

Step 3 - Assemble the Pocket
I decided to have the pocket be fully enclosed with an overlap style opening so the little teeth don't fall out easily.  Take the rectangular piece of fabric and place it on the table with the long side perpendicular to you. Fold about 1/3 of the fabric down from the top then bring the bottom up creating an overlap of about 1/2" then pin the sides for sewing.  Sew the two sides closed with a narrow seam allowance. Trim the fabric close to the seam then turn the pocket right side out.  Decide where you want the pocket to be on the top piece of your pillow shape and pin in place.  Top stitch the pocket onto the upper fabric.

Step 4 - Assemble the Pillow
Place the right sides of the pillow together and stitch the two pieces together using a 1/4" seam allowance, leaving the inner curve of the bottom of the pillow open to turn and stuff the pillow.  Trim the corners close to the seam and turn the pillow right side out. 

Note: If you wish to personalize the pillow using embroidery, do that before sewing the pieces together.  The use of a fabric pen can be done after they are sewn together but before it is stuffed.  Make sure you trim any "fuzzy's" on the felt before using the pen or you'll end up with fuzzy writing edges like you see on mine!

Fill the pillow with stuffing to your desired fullness and then whip stitch the opening closed.  Voila! You have a hand made tooth pillow for the little one in your life!

Jan 11, 2011

A Resolution to Write

The Holiday's have come and gone and my house is returning to its normal routine. I do not usually make New Year's Resolutions, but for some reason I decided to this year. I resolved to do two things this year:
  1. Post regularly to this blog in an attempt to get it going again, and
  2. Start selling my Produce bags (and other handmade crafts) again.
Do you think I can do it? I sure hope so! The second is important as we really need to bring in some more funds or I will need to go back to working outside the home. Therefore, you are reading the grand re-opening of The Simplistic Mom Blog and I hope to have the grand opening of my Etsy shop within a month!
Now I just need to organize my thoughts and decide what I will start blogging about first! Anything you are particularly interested in hearing about or hope to see with the re-emergence of my blog? I'd love to hear from you if you are still following after my long reprieve!