Friday, December 31, 2010

Getting Outside

Remember one of my goals for 2010 was to get outside tons. We did pretty well! Here are some pictures of enjoying nature in 2010.
I’m excited that Living and Learning is going to be hosting a new meme in 2011 to encourage families to get outside more! We’ll be participating at the end of each month.
January~ trips to the snow, Grandma & Grandpa’s Meadow, and hibernating ladybugs by the handful!


February~  enjoying our beautiful backyard, the zoo and parks

February 2010

March~ hiking, exploring, and digging a swimming pool!

March 2010

April~ This month it warmed up, and Ella’s distaste for clothing began, so I have tons of cute naked pics that I can’t share :(

April 2010

May~  A great vacation, eating carrots right out of our garden, and picking strawberries

May 2010

June~ Tide pooling, lots of fun at the beach, pool, and parks!

June 2010

July~Apparently we spent the entire month in the water, and once again Ella was naked in 99% of the pictures…

July 2010

August~ Tractor driving, camping, and lots of time riding bikes

August 2010

September~ mud, birds nests, and of course safety goggles & hammers!

September 2010

October~ Hiking, rainy days at the river, hacking at stumps, pony rides and pumpkin patches

October 2010

November ~ I only took a handful of pictures in November. But, there were the usual hikes and park days :)

family pic

December~ More fun at the beach, hiking, and enjoying our new climbing dome (Thanks Grandma & Grandpa :)

December 2010

Wow!! This post has made me really appreciate our beautiful CA weather, many fun trips/vacations, and two adorable kids that love to be outside!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas From Two Chubby Little Snowmen

A chubby little snowman had a carrot nose
along came a bunny, and what do you suppose?
That hungry little bunny, looking for some lunch
ate that snowman's carrot nose,
Nibble, Nibble, Crunch!

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!
I'll be back online next week :)


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gingerbread Week

My kids enjoyed preschool co-op’s Gingerbread Week  so much that it turned into gingerbread month!

The kids loved the gingerbread books we read:














Our focus letter was G. For our capital G the kids used stencils (part of a bulletin board border that I cut up) and painted with cotton balls. We decorated our lowercase g with gold glitter glue. Here’s a G is for Gingerbread Handwriting Worksheet.


During circle time we looked at the illustrations in our gingerbread books to compare and contrast gingerbread characters. We noticed that lots of gingerbread men have buttons, so we made a graph of how many buttons we were wearing at the time. Even the two year olds were into the graphing activity- each kid stood up for  us to count their buttons and then I handed them a gingerbread man with that number written on it. We assembled the graph all together and then talked about who had the most/least buttons, etc.


Under the graph you can see our scented gingerbread men. The kids liked trying to match the different spices. We found that several of them do not like the smell of nutmeg!

We laced and stuffed gingerbread characters. This was super affordable since we used paper bags, yarn, a hole punch and markers.


Ryan loved making a gingerbread family garland (again just out of a paperbag). I love how the second one has “Grandma’s fluffy gray hair”.


Both kids loved making life-size gingerbread friends!


All of the preschoolers enjoyed our gingerbread poem and making gingerbread puppets to re-enact the story. Since my kids like to climb in the oven of their play kitchen they’ve loved acting out all of the different versions of the story.


I found an adorable new blog, Musings of Me,  that has tons of cute Gingerbread printables! Here’s Ella sorting buttons onto her gingerbread color cards.


My kids loved creating Gingerbread Applesauce Ornaments to give a few special people for Christmas. The dough was 1 cup of applesauce, 1 cup of cinnamon, and 2T of glue. I was surprised that it actually made a great dough (not crumbly, and super yummy smelling). It took several days for our ornaments to dry. The kids put a lot of time and effort into decorating them!


Of course on the first morning of preschool, Homeschool Creations just had to post a Gingerbread Lapbook and send me into a printing, cutting and laminating tizzy before school started! (Thanks ;)

Since somehow they aren’t totally sick of the gingerbread  theme yet we worked on this mini-book, My Gingerbread Man. And, we played the Gingerbread Man game on Starfall!

It’s been a fun & yummy smelling month :)


Tuesday, December 21, 2010


family pic

Giving Up On a Clean House is officially 1 year old!! I began blogging to chronicle my adventures with my two preschoolers. I love finding and sharing ideas in the big ol’ blogosphere. But, most importantly , blogging has been a constant reminder to me to slow down and focus on what matters!

I love looking back through the blog and seeing everything we’ve done this year! It’s hard to pick a favorite, but my kids’ favorites were our sight word garden, our rocketship, Ryan’s Writing Center, and coming up with creative ways to play with our puzzles.  Looking at old posts reminded us to make  reindeer toast this week.


Even though I’ve become really good at not letting myself feel guilty when I don’t post enough, one of my goals for 2011 is to post more consistently. I would love to see this little blog grow!

With Ryan officially starting Kindergarten and Ella really getting into the swing of preschool it’s going to be a wonderfully full year!

THANKS for reading!!! I love all of your comments and links :)

[I dream about this blog growing as big as some of my favorites! Right now 3 of my favorite blogs are partnering with Target to giveaway an iPad  and children’s books!!                                                   Go to Frugal Family Fun Blog to enter to win an iPad and an assortment of children’s books courtesy of Target! I also saw the giveaway at No Time for Flashcards and The Activity Mom]

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Time for Tots Activity Kit Review

IMG_4699 IMG_4694 IMG_4701IMG_4698 

We have had so much fun the last couple of days with our Mix n’ Match Christmas Kit from Time for Tots.

Our kit arrived with 12 wonderful activities (which I selected, that’s the mix n’ match part of the kit :) The activities were appropriate for both my two and four year old. Some of the activities were consumable (the make an ornament activities), so only one child got to do them. But, there were enough so that they could choose what they wanted to make.

Ella’s favorite activities were, sorting big and small objects onto big and small stockings, and matching the candy canes. Ryan enjoyed the grid games and making a reindeer headband. They worked nicely together on the prewriting strips and puzzles.

I love that these activities took no preparation from me, yet have provided hours of entertainment (and will continue to do so all month)! I also appreciated that each activity was individually organized in separate bags, that the entire kit came securely packed in a single large plastic folder, and that the instructions were clear.

The shipping was super fast, so it’s not too late to order your kit and still have time to do these fun holiday activities with your kids!

Don’t forget while you’re on the Time for Tots site to check out other kits that can be used all year long. I’ve been eyeing their Fine Motor Skills Kit, the Everything Preschool Kit, the Color Travel Size Kit, and the Working With Words Kit. They even have Sensory Bins.

Nicole from Time for Tots generously provided this free kit for us to review. The opinions in this review are mine and were not influenced by Time for Tots or its affiliates.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Keeping My Purse Organized

Yup you read that title right, and yup I’m a self-declared dork! But, at least I’m an organized dork ;)


I have a massive amount of membership cards, reward cards, punch cards, business cards, gift cards, coupons, and other little pieces of important paper that would otherwise make my wallet bust at the seams and clutter my purse. I organize them all in a little coupon wallet that I got in a dollar bin last Christmas.

I even keep my check book and a small pack of crayons in there. It’s gotten pretty massive in size, but it keeps my even more massive purse tidy, and I always know where my cards and coupons are! It’s worked so well for me that I just had to share :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Split Pea Soup & Challah

I wish Thanksgiving produced more ham hocks! There are so many great possibilities! This year’s hock was destined to become split pea soup.

Soup Ingredients:

  • 4T Butter
  • 2 Onions, chopped
  • 6-8 celery stalks
  • 6-8 carrots
  • 1 pound split peas
  • 4 cups chicken or turkey broth (Don’t forget it’s super easy to make yourself)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1T marjoram
  • ham hock and any leftover ham you may have

Soup Preparation:

Melt the butter in a dutch oven (or a large heavy pot). Add the vegetables and sauté until they begin to soften ( about 8 minutes). Stir in the hock and ham (in large chunks that you will be able to remove easily later) and marjoram. Add the peas, broth and water. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover partially. Stir frequently until the peas are falling apart (about an hour).

Transfer the hock and large ham chunks to a bowl. Use an immersion blender to bring the soup to a consistency that you like (it will thicken slightly as it cools). If it’s too thick blend in more broth. Dice the pork and return it to the soup. Yields about 3.5 quarts.

This soup is delicious (yet terribly not kosher) with Challah.

photo 2(8) 

Bread Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 5 egg yolks (save the whites to brush the dough)
  • 6T softened butter
  • 4C flour
  • 4T gluten
  • 1.5t salt
  • 1/2c packed brown sugar
  • 1.5T yeast

** The freshness of the flour and gluten GREATLY affects the taste and texture of the bread!

Bread Preparation:

I put the ingredients in my breadmaker in the order listed (but I understand different machines have different order preferences??) My machine is a bit on the wimpy side for this wet and heavy dough, so I  stand by during mixing with a spatula. After the machine finishes the dough cycle, I give the bread one more gentle kneading on a well floured surface. Then I split the dough into six pieces and braid two loaves of three strands each.  Brush the loaves with egg whites and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Allow the loaves to rise for half an hour, and then bake at 350 degrees for 18-25 minutes (depending on how doughy you like it).

Every time I make Challah I intend to take one of the loaves to a friend, it just never makes it that far…



Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Guided Drawing- Thanksgiving Pilgrims


I’m frequently torn  when I think of what ‘art lessons’ should look like for young children. Part of me wants to make it a fully creative process, and part of me wants to include some instruction (in the hopes that my children will be able to draw more than stick people, unlike their mama:) So like may other subjects, I try to balance the kids’ experiences. We do a lot of free art (where they usually end up consuming an entire glue stick each!)

Guided drawing not only allows us to work on some drawing skills, but it is also great for practicing following directions! Most of our guided drawing lessons have been in Ryan’s Drawing Notebook, but I wanted our Thanksgiving lesson to be larger. We followed a lesson from HeidiSongs. Ryan is so proud of his pilgrims and turkeys. I printed out the instructions so that we can repeat them each year and see how his drawing changes.


We’ve also been doing some activities from Draw with Rich. I’ve been eyeing his Pick & Draw Game for awhile, maybe I’ll have to add it to Ryan’s stocking.



Friday, November 19, 2010

Preschool Co-op

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that my friends and I have organized a preschool co-op. We are all so excited at how well it is going. I was a little worried that rotating houses each week would confuse the kids, but it definitely has not. The kids are excited to take turns to have preschool at their house. All the moms have done an awesome job so far! I wanted to show you some of the great activities that Ms. May Tou planned for us this week.


Look how excited the kids were to answer questions during circle time.

Our focus letter for the week was N. On Tuesday we made nest N’s for our alphabet binders, and on Thursday we talked about N words and made necklaces.




These are just a couple of the cute projects we did this week! I love the thankful trees that the kids made. We asked the kids what they were thankful for and put five responses on the leaves of their trees. I love that we asked them individually so they didn’t all just repeat each others answers. Ryan is thankful for peanut butter and jelly, trees, candy, presents, and rain. Ella is thankful for Daddy, Mommy, ‘My Ryan’, flowers, and turkey.  The pilgrims in their pots are on plastic spoons!

Thanks to Ms. May Tou for a great week!

CSN Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Kate (comment #26)! I hope you enjoy your $35 to CSN Stores :)

A huge thank you to CSN Stores for the giveaway!

Did you know that next month I’ve been blogging for an entire year? Did you know that I rarely stick to something for an entire year ;) I think we should celebrate!! Stay tuned for more giveaways :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Countdown to Christmas

Last year we used a paper chain to countdown to Christmas (and practice our patterning, and end the non-stop question of ‘How many more days?)

We have an adorable advent calendar that our cousins gave us, each of the little pockets has an ornament to hang on the tree (with Velcro). I love that I don’t have to buy little junkie things for this calendar each year!


This year I was hoping to get my act together earlier and do something a little more elaborate. I was so excited when I saw one of my favorite bloggers, The Activity Mom, post an Activity Advent Calendar. I LOVE the idea of counting down to Christmas by doing something fun and holiday themed each day!

I love that she included the printable cards, Plan B activities, and a super organized materials list for the entire month!

Print out your Activity Advent Calendar today and enjoy an activity a day as you count down to Christmas!

Monday, November 15, 2010



I love to use Tumblr as virtual bookmarks for the blogosphere! My Tumblr page is an easy and cute way to keep track of all the great things I find online.

Check out the cookies a friend and I made today, the money game I’m currently making for Ryan, or the erasable activity books that I want to make for Christmas gifts.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Win $35 to any store!

I was excited when CSN Stores contacted me about doing a review or giveaway.

Since the handles on my work bag are literally falling apart, I thought about getting this adorable briefcase.


Then I looked at all the great things I could get for the kids.

pans blocks flowers brush

Then I realized, where is my giving spirit;of course I should pass this on as a giveaway to my readers!

So enter below to win a one-time-use $35 gift certificate to use as you wish at any of CSN’s 200+ websites!


Tell me how you would spend your $35 at CSN Stores


* Become a follower of my blog or comment if you already are  (1 entry) (use the follow button on the right hand side of the page :)

* Blog about this giveaway and leave me a comment with a link (3 entries)

Giveaway ends November 18, 2010 at 11:59PST.  Be sure to leave a valid email address otherwise I won't be able to contact you if you win.  Winner will be chosen via  If the winner does not contact me within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.  Good Luck!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Leaf Week

A few friends and I have started a preschool co-op. We take turns teaching & hosting preschool at our house two afternoons a week. It’s tough with 2 two year olds, 3 three year olds, and 2 four year olds. But, the kids love it and it’s nearly free! We made a schedule of themes, and a common circle time and behavior system that stays consistent each week.

I taught for our first week last week. Leaf Week was a huge hit!

During Circle Time I introduced some fun songs from preschool rainbow.

The kids’ favorites were:

Gray Squirrel, Gray Squirrel
Shake your bushy tail (pretend to shake tail)
Gray Squirrel, Gray Squirrel
Shake your bushy tail (pretend to shake tail)
Wrinkle up your funny nose (act out line)
Put a nut between your toes (pretend to eat a nut)
Gray Squirrel Shake your bushy tail (Pretend to shake a tail)

Red and yellow, green and brown. (count off colors on fingers)
Leaves are falling to the ground. (simulate falling leaves with hands)
We pile them up OH SO HIGH:  ('pile' leaves with hands)
Then we JUMP in! (pretend to jump in)
My friends and I!

Circle Time also included a calendar board similar to the one we usually do.  The kids favorite part was when I introduced our sensory bin.
photo 1
I’ve considered doing sensory bins before, there are some amazing ones in the blogosphere. My final inspiration came from Delightful Learning; her recent sensory bin showed me that it’s more than just squishing little hands around to feel things!

Our fall bin included dried beans & green and yellow split peas as the filler. There were fabric leaves, real peanuts and walnuts in their shells, leaf buttons, real acorns, plastic acorns, and plastic spiders.
I showed the kids how to use small tongs to take items out of the bin and sort them in ice cube trays, or pile them on a large leaf platter. The kids had hours of fun and creative play with the bin, and even added some new words to their vocabulary.  I’ll be doing one for each new theme!

During other group activity times we enjoyed our rhythm sticks, and took turns practicing writing our focus letter-L, with a paint bag.

Of course we read lots of leaf & fall themed books:
Fall Leaves Fall!
The Apple Pie Tree
Fletcher and the Falling Leaves
Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf
The Little Yellow Leaf
Leaf Man
The Autumn Leaf
Investigating Why Leaves Change Their Color

For our art project the first day we used marbles to paint leaves (inspired by 1+1+1=1). It was a fun mess-free craft (since I put the paint on the marbles, and put them into their boxes).
photo 2

Our art project the second day was inspired by Deep Space Sparkle. After reading  Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf and Leaf Man. We examined the illustrations, and talked about all the different shapes of leaves. The older kids used oil pastels, and the younger ones used crayons to draw leaves. We finished by using liquid watercolors to go over our pictures. You can see Ryan’s picture of leaf man.


Since our focus letter was L, we made leaf L’s, and used bingo markers for a find the L activity. The four year olds practiced writing L’s.

We used leaf stickers to make leaf counting books. I differentiated for the different ages. I did all the writing for the two year olds, the three year olds had a place to trace their numbers, and the four year olds traced a couple numbers and then practiced writing their own.

At snack time we tried to crack peanut and walnut shells with our hands. When they couldn’t open the walnuts we brainstormed as a group how we could do it. The kids spent the rest of our outdoor time cracking walnuts with rocks. (Thanks to a good friend of mine for that idea :)

The oldest kids did some extra activities. they enjoyed all of the fall games from File Folder Fun. I even used their blank acorn template to create an uppercase and lowercase matching activity that we did as a group.
Acorn Addition was a huge hit. The four year olds used the acorns from the sensory bin. They each rolled two dice, and then used the acorns to figure out who had the larger sum. They used the leaf buttons from the bin as a way to keep track of their points. I was excited to see that they frequently knew the sums without the help of the acorns.
acorn addition      

We did so many fun things, but still not everything I had planned! I look forward to my turn to teach next month, but even more so I look forward to my free afternoons when it’s someone else’s turn to teach!