Friday, December 30, 2011

Taco Bar: Vegan if you want (=

Taco Bar is not a new idea in our family.  It's also not Christmas tradition.  Last night we celebrated Christmas with the whole Billey family - Nana and Poppy, Mr. and Mrs. Knost with Little Lou, Bugsy, and Stinky, and our family - Mr. and Mrs. Crum with Monkey, Crackers, and Baby.  What a crew of craziness.  

The biggest problem with making a meal is figuring out something that will satisfy everyone's tastes and dietary needs.  Mrs. Knost thought a taco bar would be fantastic because everyone could make it however they wanted.  I thought for my "recipe" this week I would share as many things as I can recall from our tabletop taco bar.

Hard Shell
Sour Cream
Refried Beans
Black Beans
Shredded Cheese
Shredded Chicken
Ground Beef
Banana Peppers
Cilantro Lime Basmati Rice
Fajita Veggies
Enchilada Soup
Tortilla Strips

Free Educational Activity: Fruit Baskets

Okay, in this case "free" costs a little bit.  That's only because we were already buying things to put together fruit baskets for gifts, so we didn't spend money beyond our budget.
This week we had some gift baskets to put together and Monkey needed an activity.  I invited him to join me by counting and sorting fruit and putting it into baskets.  

Skills he worked on? Pride in workmanship, counting, sorting, identifying fruit, helping, work ethic, evaluation...
And he WAS proud!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Our Christmas Day Adventure

Is this how a "normal" family celebrates Christmas?
We probably would have started our day by opening gifts if it hadn't been on a Sunday.  Instead, we got the boys to sleep in a little while, then headed to church for an amazing Christmas morning service.

Did I mention that Mr. Crum and I broke the bed on Christmas morning?  Yep - I sat down on the side of it to say something to him while we were getting ready, and the side pulled right out of the footboard.  Ugh!

Baby has had a cough for several days and it was getting pretty bad on Sunday.  He was anointed with oil and prayed over.  Immediately after service, we took a drive to the hospital down the street and checked in at the ER.

I felt kind of silly checking in with a baby who "has a cough".  I knew, however, that his cough was pretty major and needed some attention.  We spent a couple of hours in theER, Baby had an EKG, a chest x-ray, a breathing treatment, and was sent home with a diagnosis of bronchitis and a variety of scripts for medicine.

By the time we got home it was shortly after 2pm and Crackers was asleep.  Monkey had a quick lunch and took a nap also.  Mama and Mr. Crum took the opportunity to rest.  

After we all had naps and Crackers was changed, we decided to sit down and open gifts.  Monkey told us that for Christmas he wanted "a present".  He said he wanted mama and Mr. Crum to give him "beans".  He did not get beans.

Our boys each had 3 gifts to open.  Well, Baby only had 1 and we forgot about it - he didn't care, he slept through the whole event.  They all had a great time exploring their new toys!

A productive date

Today I got to go on a date with this man!  It was not a "typical" date, but a productive one.  We decided to have a late lunch and work on setting some goals for our next year.  Loverboy and I went to Quaker Steak & Lube for soup & salad - WOW - amazing soups (I especially loved their chicken enchilada soup).  We spent some time hashing out projects that we would like to accomplish around the house, some personal achievements we would like to make, and some desires for our little family.  Maybe that doesn't sound like fun, but it is nice to dream and plan together.  

After lunch we had a little more spare time before picking up our big boys.  We went to one of our favorite coffee shops in Fort Wayne, The Firefly on Anthony Blvd.  If you're ever in the area, check it out.  We snuggled on a sofa and shared a coffee (while I fed a hungry baby).  I love going on dates there, it was one of our first date spots when we met!

Thank you to our generous babysitters.  We look forward to spending more time with your family.  You are a blessing.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The best Christmas present ever.

Grandma Billey, Scrabble Queen with Ashlee.  We had a great Scrabble date that day.
Monkey's first coffee - or maybe not.
One of our first family pictures July 2008.

Mr. Crum saved the hard drives from 2 of my old computers, he rescued of hundreds of photo memories for me.  He is amazing.  I love hunting through these images and the memories that go with them!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

3 yr old: On Names

The Crum boys got fantastic new stuffed animals today.  On the trip between our family gathering and church we were asking the boys the names of their new stuffed animals.

Monkey got a dinosaur.  He was a little confused about the question and said, "dinosaur say roar".  
Daddy said, "Yes, but what do you call it if you want it to come to you." 
Monkey replied, "Roar."
(I thought that seemed obvious).
Again, I asked, "Well what is his name?"
"I don't know" answered our darling 3 year old.
"Oh, why don't you ask him?" I responded.

Exasperated, Monkey shook his head and replied, "He don't got mouth!"

Duh, how could he tell us his name if he doesn't have a mouth?

By the way, the dinosaur's name is now Doo Dah.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 23, 2011

Food on Friday with Tyson Chicken #CBias #TysonGoodness

Yes, it's true - we don't buy meat at home... usually.  We are not entirely opposed to it though.  Tuesday was grocery day at Walmart this week.  As I prepared my shopping list and looking over our weekly activities, I chose to get Tyson Mini-Chicken sandwiches for the boys to have a quick snack before we went on an outing to the mall.  The week before Christmas is a busy one and I want to make sure they're getting enough to eat, and food that is decently healthy.  I love the size of the mini-chicken sandwiches, and they love the taste.  

These guys don't usually get snacks in the afternoons, but I knew we were going to have a late dinner, so they would be pretty hungry and grouchy without a snack.  Monkey is pretty weird about what he will and won't eat.  He'll often avoid meats so I wasn't sure what he would do.  He pulled the chicken out of his sandwich, identified it as meat, and ate it first!

I like it that these only take about 2 minutes to prepare and they don't need any extra toppings.  For a snack, I can warm up 1 package - there are 2 sandwiches per pouch - and split it between the boys.  They don't need anything extra to feel fulfilled.

Even better yet - right now Tyson is offering a special deal - buy 2 packs and get a $5 Walmart gift card.  That's basically buy one get one free!  Click on the link for details.  To make sure that your Walmart offers these, check their store locator.

Follow the link to our Google + photo story to see about our fun shopping trip.

Merry Christmas from the Crum Boys.

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias all opinions are my own. #CBias #TysonGoodness

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Free Educational Activity: The library

I have to start this post with a little bit of bragging.  Allen County Public Libraries are incredible.  Mr. Crum works in the basement of the main library, so we have ample opportunity to visit when it's time to pick him up from work.  The boys love spending time at the library, not just in the "early learning center" but all through the children's services area.  They even enjoy displays outside of the children's section of the library. I've bragged to my mom (Nana) about our library many times and hope she gets a chance to visit some time, for now I'll share pictures and brag a bit about our free education!  If you are in the Allen County area and you have children, please - take them to the library, you'll thank yourself.

This is the view from the entrance of the ELC (early learning center).  The large tree in the middle has the alphabet hanging from its branches.  Around the trunk there is a table covered with a variety of puzzles.  To the right of where I am standing is the exploration area for non-walkers.  Ahead and to the left is an area for coloring and writing, and spread throughout the room are several activity stations.

Crackers is inside a fire truck while he plays with cars on this maze.  It is fun to try and figure out how to move the cars in just the right direction to end up where you want to go.  This has toys on the inside and outside - Crackers spent about 10 minutes with it this visit.

The house has a fence, there are apples that can hang on the tree.  Behind the house are boxes of building blocks and puppets.  Monkey was attached to a stacking birthday cake this day, he carried it the entire time we were visiting.  While he was playing behind the house, he let me know that I couldn't come in because there was a fence and he couldn't leave his house because the fence was in the way.

We love this barn.  There are doors on either side that are big enough for the boys to crawl through, the roof hinges open.  There are a variety of animals to play with in the barn as well. As I said earlier, Monkey carried the cake around - he was building it in the barn until his brother joined him.  

This is a small part of the foods area.  To the left is a shelf full of costumes, to the right is a kitchen set, and next to me is a store counter.  A family of 4 kids had just finished arranging the food by groups - I loved listening to them, "is an artichoke a fruit or a vegetable?"  (It's actually a flower if I remember right).  I was pretty impressed at how well they categorized things though.

The reading corner is a favorite for my boys.  I thought we would never get them out of the library once daddy was done with work.  Crackers kept bringing him more books.

Monkey is starting to get interested in writing.  He drew some lines and circles on this day, then deposited his paper in the play mailbox.

The fish tanks are in the back of the Children's Services area.  There are 3 large salt water tanks and a wall of bubbles.  Crackers love the bubbles.  Monkey loves looking for the starfish.  I recently learned that you can get a paper from the librarian to help identify the fish (I kept wondering if I could find something to help us out).  To the right of the fish tanks is a computer lab just for kids - my boys don't really even know it's there.  To the left is a touch screen display with earphones that reads parts of books to the children.  Monkey loves this "game".

This is the "playground" according to Monkey.  It has steps leading up to a platform with a couple of toys on the walls and a carpeted "slide" going down.  Underneath there are a couple of wall toys.  The boys think this is one of the most amazing play areas.  They also love sitting on the benches in this part of the library to snuggle mama and read books.

And there's more.  There is a reading tower - like a giant space ship tree house sort of thing - for the "big" kids.  There are games to be used near the fish tanks.  The library offers amazing programs for kids in the afternoons, and for homeschool during the day!  What an amazing resource for free educational fun!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Slice Safety Cutter: Review

Safety Cutters by Slice™ - High-tech ceramic blade stays sharp, never rusts.

I recently had the opportunity to try The Slice Safety Cutter.  It has the tiniest little ceramic blade and  had heard some folks say they had a difficult time using it at first.  I was skeptical that this tiny blade could do anything.  The Safety Cutter surprised me.  I found it very easy to use right away.  I used it on mail, packages, fingers (it didn't cut the finger), and post cards.  The Slice Safety Cutter would be great for couponers too.  It is small and easy to carry around.  I keep mine in my purse.  I've been thinking about using one for a stocking stuffer.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, December 19, 2011

BioBag MaxAir Composting Bucket: Review & Giveaway

(I made that word up)
We are working on making our lives more green.  We feel convicted that taking care of the Earth is one of our God-given duties.  Because of that, we do crazy things like cloth diaper, recycle, compost, and garden.  We are always looking for ways to do better at all of these things, and more.

We have been composting for about a year and a half.  We tend to grab whatever pot or bowl is handy once one has been filled and emptied into the compost bin in the yard.  It's messy, foods get fuzzy, it's gross.  We fill up a bowl in about 3 days.

This was about 3 days worth of compost - gross, right?

When we were given the chance to try out BioBag's MaxAir Composting Bucket, I jumped at it!  Finally we would have something in our kitchen that was actually designed for composting! 

Compost bucket

This bucket holds so much more than I initially imagined, and the food doesn't get gross so quickly.  It took us an entire week to fill the bucket and nothing stunk!

I was a little bit leery about the bags.  See, they have special bags that are made just for this purpose, and I felt like they were kind of pricey.  I told Mr. Crum that I wasn't sure what we would do after we ran out.  I was expecting that we would need to empty it every couple of days, like we had before.  I also read the price wrong.  Amazon sells a set of 4 boxes (that's 100 bags) for $19.32.  That will last us nearly 2 years at our current rate of usage!  What an amazing deal!

The list price on the bucket is $11 and absolutely worth the money. To find a BioBag retailer, check their website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Healthy Eating for Kids E-book: Review

... and speaking of vegetables...

Do you need some great ideas for helping your kids learn to eat more healthy foods?
Edible Forest
Image taken from the healthy eating book website.
I found an e-book that gives 60 great recipes for making food more fun.  These are great for serving too kids, and having children help in the kitchen!  They are simple and tasty.  My kids are not always great at trying new things, but presented in a fun way, they are much more open to it.

Healthy Eating for Kids is only $9.95!
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wholly Guacamole & Hormel Natural Choice: Review & Giveaway

The truth? I get excited when I see a package on my doorstep.  

Today is no exception.  It's been a working morning and as I drove home from the coffee shop (where I did some curriculum planning and letter writing) I was thinking about what to make for the boy's lunches.  

I was very excited to discover that we had an amazing, healthy lunch waiting for us on our doorstep!  All I had to do was put it together.  When I opened the package, Monkey got excited - "Is that guacamole? Oh Yay!"
A simple, nutritious lunch.
I feel confident about giving my boys wholly guacamole.  The 100 calorie packs are large enough that I can split one pack between them.  They are all natural and gluten free.  (I personally love the spicy guacamole).  We love the great nutritional benefits of guacamole and it's rare to find a guac with a flavor that matches the goodness of Wholly Guacamole - I'm not even exagerating, this stuff is fantastic.
Crackers chose to eat his sandwich like a big boy instead of pulling it apart.
We had never tried Hormel Natural Choice Turkey before (we don't generally eat meat at home).  I checked out the information on the package and felt good about feeding it to my boys.  They pulled it off of their bread and ate it first, then asked for more!  Hormel Natural Choice is 100% natural - with NO PRESERVATIVES, 98% fat free, no MSG, raised without added hormones.  And guess what - it tastes good! Yep, I ate some too.

Together, Wholly Guacamole and Hormel Natural Choice make a fantastic snack or lunch.  Tomorrow we might switch it up and make "lunchables" with crackers, guacamole, turkey, and cheese.  The boys will love it (and mama loves an easy lunch).
Monkey ate his turkey first
Wholly Guacamole and Hormel are teaming up to offer a great prize package to one of my readers!  What does it include?  I'm glad you asked - 3 Wholly Guacamole coupons for FREE products, 1 Hormel Natural Choice coupon, and Wholly Guacamole "fun stuff".

Mama's thoughts about vegetables

Brussels Sprouts, Oranges, and Bean filled lasagna roll up

"When I see what your kids eat, I feel guilty."
"How can I help my family be healthier?"

These are small parts of actual conversations with friends.  It's true, my boys like fruits and vegetables, and their diet is heavy on them.  Monkey cheers for beans and begs for nuts.  He'll eat any fruit you offer him.  Crackers begged for broccoli at dinner the other night.  They even eat raw spinach.

It hasn't always been like this though.  I remember a period of time that we were putting ketchup on everything for Monkey - even green beans - just to get him to eat it.  Then there was the period of time that he was opposed to nearly every vegetable and it was tricky to get him to eat well.  Crackers has never had an aversion to food - other than olives.  He has always eaten whatever we will serve him.  

We learned after Monkey to change the way we were serving food.  We Crackers has had ketchup only a few times, and I rarely give him other "dips" for his food - he doesn't even think to ask for them unless Monkey has some.  We serve him what we are eating and expect that he will eat it.  Is it silly to expect a 2 year old to eat what his parents eat?  Not really.  He is able to eat it and it is good for him.  He can choose to eat it, or he can choose to be hungry.

Eat what is served, or be hungry.  That seems harsh.  Kids need food, right?  I've seen it so many times with kids in daycares where I have worked - a lot of families feed kids "what they will eat".  They believe they need to serve "kid friendly foods".  They let the children determine what the family's menu will be.  They expect children to take the lead in making healthy choices for themselves.  It's true, there is a time that kids have to start making choices about what they eat, but children don't know what it means to make healthy choices unless someone teaches them.  

So, how do you teach your kid to eat vegetables?
Serve vegetables at least 2 meals a day.

If you are in the habit of offering seconds at meals, insist that children at least taste veggies before they get more of something else.

If there is a food your child doesn't like, keep trying.  Eventually they may change their minds.

Try making it differently - add cheese, ketchup, or ranch; serve it frozen, raw, steamed, or baked;  use a different seasoning; put it in a favorite dish (noodles are great carriers for veggies).

Offer a variety.

Try something new to you.

Let kids help cook.

Change the name - Monkey doesn't like "chili", but he will eat "beans with meat".

Hide it - mash it, grind it, puree it - then put it in pasta sauce.

Grow a garden - let him plant, water, weed, and pick his veggies.

Talk it up - When serving foods, talk about how wonderful they taste.

Eat them yourself - you can't expect that your kids will try them if you won't.

Shop together, invite your child to help pick out fresh produce.

How about you?
What are your tricks to getting your child to eat well?
What are your children's favorite foods?
Do you have a great "child friendly" vegetable recipe?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas program

Getting ready for the church Christmas program
Crackers, note the pink eye - no program for him )=
Monkey is ready!
The choir
Monkey's class

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Decorative Ceiling Tiles: Review

Have you ever thought, "Gee, I really need a decorative ceiling tile"?  My guess is that you haven't.  Truthfully, I have though.  I see all these cute pictures of babies with ceiling tiles as backgrounds and I think that would be so cool to do with my own kids.  I love taking pictures of my kids, and am always searching my house for creative props and backgrounds.  BUT - ceiling tiles seem to be common backgrounds right now, so I wanted to see what else I could do with a decorative ceiling tile.

We currently have a nativity scene adorning our table to help us teach about Christmas.  The ceiling tile makes a great mat for our centerpiece.  It would look really great with a vase of flowers in the center of it.  This one is actually styrofoam, so I removed it before the boys played with the toys.

A few assorted tiles could make a unique wall decoration behind a sofa or over the headboard of a bed.  

135 antique silver - faux tin ceiling tiles

151 Antique Silver - Faux Tin Ceiling Tiles

We tried one on the mantle of the fireplace to see how it would look (again with a nativity scene).  I think this would look really amazing with a few white pillar candles in front of it. offers competitive prices for good quality tiles.  They have a great variety that cover  all of your needs for ceiling tiles!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.