How to get your preschooler into the kitchen and live to tell about it.

My mother and grandmother started allowing me to help with making dinner and desserts at the tender age of three.  By the time I was eight, I was making dinner for the family at least one night a week. Some of the best times of my life were while in the kitchen cooking and baking with my mom, grandmother and various aunts during the Holidays.  I want my daughter to have memories like me. 

But how does one do that? This question started my journey to figure out how to teach my daughter the art and the joy of cooking.   Here are the easy (or maybe not so easy as it turns out) steps that I have incorporated into my cooking routine
  • KISS -- Keep it simple stupid works here! Don't plan an elaborate project.
    • Each activity that I plan lasts no longer than 5 to 10 minutes.
    • I start small and keep it fun.
    • Look at recipes and determine tasks that a preschooler can do independently or with minimal supervision. 
  • Assign tasks
    • Baking usually has the best and most tasks that can be assigned.   And as we all know baking is a big part of the Holidays!
    • Pour liquid or dry ingredients into a bowl.  Of course its usually from the measuring spoon or cup after I have measured it out.  
    • Sprinkle cheese or bread crumbs on top of a casserole before it goes into the oven
    • Use cookie cutters.  
      • Use the metal cookie cutters to cut PB&J or cheese sandwiches. I avoid lunch meat sandwiches as I quickly found out it is not easy to cut!
      • Use plastic or metal cookie cutters with biscuit dough
    • Pounding out or punching down dough, especially during bread and biscuit making.  
    • Stirring the ingredients in the bowl.  I use high sided bowls now!
    • Rolling meatballs or dough balls by hand.
  • Forget about the mess
    • This is the one I have the hardest time with!
    • Everything can be washed. 
      • Wear aprons or old clothes!
      • Put down newspaper under the table or stool being used by the child
    • Purchase kid-friendly utensils
    •  Clean up as you go.  This is a great teaching tool so that the kitchen isn't a complete mess after cooking.  Of course, if you are lucky like me, you have a husband who does the dishes so cleanup as we go is putting dishes in the sink and wiping the counters!
  • Last but not least is Have FUN
I hope others are able to take these steps and find the joy in having your preschooler in the kitchen!


Jea's Christmas Wishlist

Jea and I worked on her Santa List this weekend.  I will type it up and send to Santa after Thanksgiving but thought I would post it here first.  Maybe Santa will pick it up without me having to mail it!  LOL He has to be online by now, right?

Jea's Christmas List:
  • Books and Games
    • Usborne Books Wishlist  Jea loves books and games.  She is not reading, yet, but does memorize new books after about the second time it is read to her.  She loves to pick out letters and is starting to be able to accurately trace her name and other capital letters.  She is well on the way to reading, in my opinion!  Rhyming books are some of her favorites and we have started to introduce chapter books into our storytime.  I plan to keep on reading to her for a long time. 
    • SimplyFun Wishlist (okay they don't have a wishlist function so I had to put together individual games she wants):  One of the games on this list is family oriented and two are more educational to help her with her reading and math skills.
    • Others
      • Jigsaw Puzzles of 32 pcs or more.  She loves these things and is so good at them. The puzzles she got for her birthday (24pcs each)  are put together in about 15 minutes.  And this was true after the first time Bill or I helped her with them.  She has even helped me put together a 150 piece puzzle at the dining room table.  Admittedly, she helped in spurts as she is only 3 years old and her attention span is not that great!
      • Dirt Devil Jr Upright Vacuum: Jea loves to use my little hand held rechargeable vacuum and wants to run the big one.  I say more power to her as I hate to vacuum although as we all know cleaning must be done. Bill and I have already determined that vacuuming will be one of her household chores as she gets bigger!  She was so excited this weekend when we were looking through the toy magazines/online sites everytime she saw a vauum and said "Mommy, look my size vacuum!"
      • Crayola Beginnings Color Me a Song: Combining two of Jea's loves, music and coloring, into one!  Who can beat that?
      • LeapPad Learning Games:  I got a leappad last month at a garage sale for $7 along with two books.  Jea would like more.  However, I have had a hard time finding more games/books for this thing.  If anyone has any thoughts on this, please comment!
      • FisherPrice KidTough New Digital Camera : Maybe with this, I will get my camera back and be able to take more pictures.  Jea always wants to see and to take pictures with my camera.  It is a bit bulky for her and I scared she will drop it!  So my compromise is to maybe get her her own camera!
  • Clothes
    • Socks: Jea is her mother's daughter -- she loves socks and wants them to match her outfits!
    • Winter clothes:  Long sleeves, dresses and pants. 
As most parents know, Jea, being 3, would prefer more toys than clothes!

What is on your child's Wishlist for this Holiday Season?  I am sure we can all share some great ideas with each other.


My Top 2 Work At Home Challenges

Working from home has been a wonderful challenge in and of itself.  Have I overcome the challenges of family, friends, my own innate procrastination and other distractions?    Uhmmmmmmm not even close and if you are at all like me, neither have you!

I recently read  "How I Mastered the Challenge of Working From Home" by Alyssa Gregory.  I feel her pain and her triumph.  For her, the three biggest challenges are Kids, Isolation and Unplugging.   I can agree with all of these in some fashion.  She ends her post with two questions that I have pondered
  • What are your biggest challenges of working from home?
  • What solutions have helped you?
So without further rambling, here are my top  two challenges and how I attempt to over them (and yes I do mean ATTEMPT LOL!)

#1: Procrastination

I am a master procrastinator.  I think it is a personality trait of mine and not a particularly good one.  I can always find something else to do that could wait!  The end result of this is that I play catchup as deadlines loom.  The further away a deadline is, the less getting done today for that deadline. 

My solution is to set shorter deadlines. 
At the beginning of each week, I take my work calendar (MS Outlook) and create tasks that must be completed that week.  Each task to be completed has a due date and may have dependencies as well.  Since Outlook automatically turns a task red when the due date is missed, I have a visual reference for how I am doing that week.   I can also use the status and percent complete to keep track of progress.

Typically, I put 3 tasks per day to complete.  Each task should take no longer than 2 hours.  I give myself at least two hours of  "free time" in my work day.

#2: What are my office hours?

Even after 10 years of working from home, I still find family and friends to be forgetful that just because i am in my sweats or pjs, I am still at work.   I also find that I have to remind myself, I am still at work!  It's a two way street.  

When I first starting working from home, wireless networks were in their infancy.  Wi-fi hotspots, aircards and smart-phones were things of the future!  Heck in the first year as a consultant, I was still using dial up when at my house!   This made it easier to be tethered to a desk!  Therefore office hours were accomodating to client timezones but all were done in an office.  Today with my smart-phone, my aircard, or wi-fi, I can pretty much work anywhere.  What are my office hours?

My solution:
  • Set up time each day I spend tethered to my desk in a dedicated office.
    • Jea knows that a closed door means Mommy cannot be disturbed.
    • Sharing with Bill and Jea when those hours will be each day.
    • Is determined by both my work schedule of calls and family activities/errands.
  • Use my aircard, my smartphone or wi-fi hotspots when I want to take Jea to the playground or run errands/take a trip or take Jea to dance class
  • Not opening my laptop for two hours each evening.  Those are reserved for dinner and family time.  While the actual timeframe may change to accomodate client priorities/timezones, the number of hours does not!   (This is the one that is the hardest for me to follow! I love to play and chat on the computer; just ask my friends and colleagues who find me online at 2 am some nights!)  I previously posted about why I want to shut down the computer: SimplyFun Article Got me to Thinking!
What challenges are you attempting to overcome?

Other resources: 


What is Heaven?

For the last 9 months, Jea has been inside more hospital waiting rooms than a three year old should have to see.  Many times Grandma has been in a hospital or in ICU where Jea was not allowed.  So those times, we were allowed to let Grandma and Jea see each other were precious.   Of course, we now have a daughter who can point out hospitals faster than most adults.  The long road of illness and seeing the inside of hospitals is now over.  Grandma passed from this life into Heaven on Monday morning.

Bill and I told Jea about Grandma on Monday afternoon.  Her first words were "Grandma is like Nytrex."  Nytrex being our cat that we lost a year ago.  We agreed with her.  She happily accepted that and went on to play with her cousins.

Fast forward to Thursday evening at the setting up or viewing for those not from the South.  Many people came and paid their respects. During the course of the evening more than once someone mentioned about Grandma being in Heaven.   One of those times, Jea heard and turned to her Daddy and said "What is Heaven?"

How do you tell a three year about heaven?  I am sure that many have had this question asked and know that the answer has to be age appropriate.  Our answer, "Heaven is a wonderful place where you go when you die. And our Lord is waiting with open arms to welcome you."  Jea's first response:  "Oh okay."  A bit later she came back and told us "I know where Grandma is. She is in a hospital in Heaven and we need to go there to see her."

I am sure we will have more questions as we continue to go to Grandma's house for family functions.  But at least right now, Jea is content to think that Grandma is in Heaven's hospital.  And we as parents have done our job to explain at her level Grandma is no longer with us.


Why Usborne Books & More?

Today I would like to explain why we joined Usborne Books and More as direct sales consultants.  We get asked this question a lot!  So here is the answer in a nutshell:
  •  Quality Products – Beautiful illustrations and photographs on acid free paper. Most titles have both glued and stitched bindings.
  • Reasonable Prices – Majority of titles are under $15.
  • Selection – Over 1900 titles for infants to teens to cover every child's interests and ability from bath and board books to internet linked reference books.
  • Guaranteed – in 2 ways!
    • Satisfaction – within 30 days from purchase, Usborne Books and More will replace, exchange or refund any title if you’re not completely satisfied.
    • Replacement – regardless of age or condition, get the newest version for ½ of  retail price.
  • Award Winning – Accolades from educational and parenting organizations around the world.  Current award winners can be found here.
  • Accelerated Reader Titles – Lists and ratings of titles included in the AR reading management program used in thousands of school systems.
  • Commercial Free – Not based on Cartoon, TV or Movie characters. No marketing extra’s like action figures, toys, games, etc. to purchase.
  • Home School – Materials used as a part of or a supplement to numerous curriculums (Sonlight, The Well Trained Mind, etc.) and tutoring organizations (Sylvan Learning Centers).
  • Internet Linked – Stand-alone titles with expanded data available through Usborne Quicklinks which are to updated relevant vetted sites.  There is no searching through 100 plus sites for age-appropriate information you want on the subject.
Since we joined Usborne Books and More, we have found many, many more reasons for joining.  Our daughter being a primary source for continued interest in this company.   Almost all of her favorite storytime books come from titles we have acquired as consultants. 

Today's post brought to you by Day 2 of my Blogging Challenge committment.


Can I commit to building a better blog?

Through The Work At Home website and forum, I will be starting a 31 day challenge following the e-book by Darren Rowse’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.  I am sure CHALLENGE is going to be the name of the game for me.  The challenge begins on Monday, November 8 and ends on December 17, which if you are adding it up is actually 6 weeks and not 4.  I am very thankful for that with my full time job, our direct sales business, a 3 year old at home, Thanksgiving and a couple of planned trips out of state planned. 

There is one topic per day to complete from the workbook and then finding time to chat with the others taking the challenge.  Of course, I may find that blogging about my experiences to Build a Better Blog will give me more content!   My goal is to get into the habit of updating the blog on a more regular basis than I am.

If you are interested in joining me in this challenge, check it out at BLOG CHALLENGE.


Mystery Shopper Party Ends

One of my favorite quotes "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
Thomas A. Edison definitely applies here!  

The Mystery Shopper Party on our Facebook Page has ended.  While it was not a success in terms of shoppers and sales, it was a success in helping me find more avenues to promote the business.  It cost me nothing to put together and if nothing else, our business name is out there in a few more places. 

I think what I have learned in this attempt is how I will not do it again.  I will keep trying new ways to promote our business and in the end sales will happen.  That is the lesson learned this month.


Mystery Shopper Party Update

Not much to update, I have been advertising it on various facebook fan pages but still we have no orders.  Maybe I am a little early for the Christmas and Hanuka gift-givers to buy!  So that is my update for this week.  The facebook mystery shopper party runs through Oct 22, 2010.  Come and join us!

On the note of mystery shopper parties, I have also been the hostess over the last four days for one in one of my Yahoo Groups (WAHMShoppersClub).  It did very very well.  We had two drawings, one for a $5 gift certificate good for one year and one for one book in the Conspiracy 365 series. We had over $85 in retail sales during the party days.  This is the largest party I have hosted with the group and I am very very happy.  We had a drawing amongst those who purchased at the party and the winner receives the $15 in free Usborne Merchandise! 

If anyone is interested in hosting their own show, please contact me via this blog, at my email: lmanderson@bilisent.com or on the Bill & Lise Enterprises Facebook Page.


Mystery Shopper Party

We are trying out a Mystery Shopper Party on our facebok page.  If it works well, then we may do more of them.  It is not a new concept per se but new to us at least in this venue.  I have participated in them with other direct sales open houses, on yahoo groups, etc.  However, this is new for our facebook page.  I decided today to put it together and run it for 2 weeks.  This party will be Usborne Books and More utlizing an e-show created specifically for this party. 

At the end of the party, if there have been enough sales to reach eight-five or more dollars, then a drawing will be done to choose who will receive hostess benefits out of those who bought under the e-show.   I am being optimistic and hope we will do well with this.   Two other drawings are scheduled for a $10 and a $20 gift certificate when we reach certain total sales in the party.

I am going to try to update at least every 3rd day on how things are progressing on the party. I thought this might be a great way to energize the blog and our sales all in one!  I am challenging myself to get more blog posts out than I have been doing. 


An article that got me to thinking!

Earlier this week, I was reading one of the blog entries from the SimplyFun Home Office, http://blogs.simplyfun.com/playtimes/2010/09/19/did-you-know/.  The survey results are also in.   It sparked my interest and I decided to share it here.

In my house, the TV is on from just about the time we get up to the time we go to bed.  In fact, I am the guilty party not my daughter!  I like the noise it provides.  It's not that we (read here I) can't spend hours with the TV off, it is more that we just don't turn it off enough!     I have great intentions but do not always follow through with them. 

TV is not our only downfall.  Bill and I use laptops all day long and many, many evenings.  Jea is learning that behavior from us. The article brought home just how much we watch tv, play on the computer or I check my email on my phone. 

The article mentioned above has renewed my resolve to spend more time with my daughter without a tv or computer on.  One of the easiest things I have done the last few days is to leave my laptop in the office in the evenings till Jea goes to bed.  This gives us time to share our day, play with her playdough or put puzzles together.  While we have not always turned off the TV during this time, it is a great improvement for our time before bed.


Reflecting on the Move

We have now been in South Carolina for 5 months.  We are finally settling in and our daughter has a routine. As mentioned in a previous  post, we have had to adjust bedtime routine.

However, this post is more about adjusting to new circumstances and less time as a family.  So it's all about making the most of the time we have together.  Before making this move, Jea only went to Mother's Day Out preschool twice a week for a total of 12 hours.  Now she goes to preschool or Mother's Day Out at least 4 days a week for anywhere from 6 hours to 10 hours a day.  This has left less time with mommy and daddy overall.

Here are some of the things we have incorporated over the summer to help us acheive "quality" time with Jea.
  • Instituted family game night twice a month.   This can be as simple as sitting down to a game of Old Maid, Chums, playing Wii or other computer game, CandyLand or putting together puzzles.    
  • Take time each day and evening to read to each other. 
  • Take time to go do somthing as a family each weekend.  This can be as simple as grocery shopping and then to the park or out to Langley Pond for some fishing. 
  • Mommy and me and/or Daddy and me time for Jea.
    • Mommy and Jea have dance class and a treat afterwards.
    • Daddy and Jea have working outside on the boat or in the yard.
  • And just for us adults, once a month Date Night.
We are trying to institute more and more things to do as a family.  Feel free to comment if you have some great ideas too!


Story Time associated with bedtime

Well we have had to find a new scheduled time for reading to our daughter.  We have had a bedtime routine with Jea for a long time and part of that routine includes (most nights anyway) a book or two or three.  That is until about 2 weeks ago when she started to balk at getting a book from her shelf for story time.  Guess that is what we get for having a routine at bedtime, Jea has now figured out that getting a book off the shelf equals bedtime shortly.  And what 3 year old wants to go to bed? hmmmmm not mine no matter how tired she really is!  Story time should not be a power struggle and one that has us, the parents, frustrated beyond belief and her, the child, in tears or throwing a tantrum!

So I have decided to move story time to earlier in the evening, ie at least 2 hours away from bedtime.  Both Bill and I love to read and want Jea to have that same passion for books and the ability to imagine from words on a page, travel to far off places or "be" a superhero or whatever.  We are starting that new routine this week and will see how it goes.  Jea loves her books and is at the stage of memorizing favorites.  If she knows the book, heaven forbid you miss a word or line or a page!  I want that to continue and her interest in reading to grow. 


Potty Training Saga

Well, this has been an on-going saga for awhile now!  As of July of this year, our daughter has been accident free on the #1 side of the equation.  She just got it after about 2 weeks of moving from pull-ups/diapers to cloth training pants.  On the other hand, #2 (poop) has not been as successful!  I will say that on that front, she has never been bothered by a dirty and stinky diaper.  In fact, many times since she learned the word NO, it has been a fight to change her when she is dirty.  Moving away from diapers did not change this!

About the 15th of August, we moved Jea from training pants to actual little girl panties includig those with Dora the Explorer or one of the Disney Princesses on them.  I thought this might entice her to keep those panties clean and be moved to poop in the toilet!  No such luck. And her dad and I were getting very very tired of cleaning out the panties.  We did make the pact that we would not put Jea back into diapers or pull-ups, however!

Move forward to about 2 weeks ago.  A friend related the trick that worked with her oldest.  She has 4 boys so I decided that it couldn't hurt!  Her trick was to take away pants and underwear if her son did not use the toilet to go #2.  This is how we implemented it:
  • Told Jea that as of today (Saturday, September 4, 2010), if she poopd in her panties, they would be taken away and in the house she would not be allowed to wear them again until she pooped in the potty.
  • If she pooped in the potty, then she would recieve a sticker on the chart.  5 stickers = a trip to Bouncy Bratz!
It took us two weeks and about 5 accidents, 1 day of constipation but we must be on the right track............


Lazy Sunday....sorta

Today was supposed to be a lazy day after church.  However, I got industrious and put together my new couponing system with trading card sheet protectors, 4x6 photo sheet protectors and a vinyl 3 prong folder.  After putting together all of my coupons, I took a plain envelope on which to create my grocery list. I, then flipped through my coupons and added those coupons to the envelope I would be using.

Jea and I left Bill to take a nap.  (At least someone got a lazy day! LOL)  We went to the grocery store where Jea insists on getting a car cart!  Of course the cart, as always, had a rogue wheel but we muddled through the store.   At the end of the shopping trip, I had spent less than $100 between coupons and store specials.  Our normal shopping trip to the grocery store costs us about $130 each week.  Besides saving money, I only bought 1 item not on my list.  That one item cost me $1.

After dinner and night routine with Jea, I ordered some items from Usborne Books and More.  One of the items, a Dino Kid Kit, ships to WAHM Connect's Amber to review and use with her kids whom she homeschools.  Check out her website!  This is especially true for those who are in Direct Sales.


First One! Let's see how it goes

Hi, well this is my first post.  This is Lise!  Both Bill and I will be updating as we go forward.  I expect that I will be updating more from a personal perspective most of the time.  So here goes...............

Tonight is the first ever dance class for Jea!  We are attending Crosby School of Dance in Aiken.  I can't wait. She finally gets to wear her leotard, skirt and ballet slippers for the first time.  We bought them back at the beginning of August.  Jea has been really wanting to play dress up with them!  I will be sure to take pictures and post them to flickr as soon as I can.