Our 10 Favorite Kids Books

Cars Galore
Cars Galore by Peter Stein: Sweet P LOVES the book and has it memorized. It's full of fun cars and fun rhymes, including a Rusty, Dusty, Hunk of Junk car that Sweet P adores. The illustrations go perfectly with the rhymes and keep a child interested. Great book for boys and girls who love cars!

King Hugo's Huge Ego by Chris Van Dusen: A book with a good message about being humble. I don't love the fact that there is a "sorceress" involved, but the illustrations are silly and Sweet P loves the parts about his head growing bigger and bigger each time he brags.

Look...A Book by Bob Staake: Staake is the illustrator for Cars Galore and this seek and find book is simple enough for toddlers. It's full of silly pictures and ideas with fun rhymes and little windows throughout the pages.

Miss Lina's Ballerinas by Grace Maccarone: I think I might love this book just as much as Sweet P. The book is about 8 little ballerinas that turn into 9. All of their names rhyme, which is too cute: Christina, Edwina, Sabrina, Justina, Katrina, Bettina, Marina, and Nina...Regina is the 9th. There is a sequel called Miss Lina's Ballerinas and the Prince, but I like the first much better.

What is Your Language? by Debra Leventhal: Hands down Sweet P's favorite book. I bought it at GoodWill for 89 cents and it's one of the best purchases I've ever made. It's about a young boy who travels around the world learning how to say yes in several languages. Sweet P's favorite is Inuktitut.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown: If you don't have this in your library of books, then go get it!

Way Up High in a Tall Green Tree
Way Up High in a Tall Green Tree by Jan Peck: A super cute story about a little girl in a tree saying goodnight to various animals. At the end you discover she's in her bunk bed with her stuffed animals. It has a lot of different animals, which helped Sweet P (and me!) learn a few new ones.

Every Cowgirl Needs Dancing Boots
Every Cowgirl Needs Dancin' Boots by Rebecca Janni: The sequel to Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse. These books are super cute and perfect for any girl who loves boots or dancing! I read it in a Texas accent for fun and Sweet P loves the glitter girls and the part when Nellie Sue slips.

Fancy Nancy (the original) by Jane O'Conner: We love any Fancy Nancy book, but the original is our favorite. I love these books and Fancy Nancy's love for words and books.

Any lift-the-flap Little People book: These books are great for travel with over 40 flaps to lift in each book.
What are some of your favorite children's books?

Tot Preschool: Letters L and M

Before Valentine's Day we did several activities with letter L, but we started working more with trays and other activities so I never got around to posting them. After Valentine's Day we started doing some letter M activities and got stuck on letter M for a few weeks before moving on to St. Patrick's Day activities. Here are a few of the things we did during those weeks.

Sweet P is 34.5 months

Bible Verse (letter M): Happy are the kind and merciful. -Matthew 5:7
Bible Character (letter M): Moses

Ladybug letter L: This was a lot of fun for her and a great counting activity for Sweet P as well.

Leaves in a Tree: At one of the mall play areas in town there is a tree that has two eyes peeking out, but you can't see what it is. Sweet P was obsessed with that tree for awhile so I came up with an idea for her to recreate that tree at home. I used leftover tissue paper from an advent calendar we made for the leaves.

M is for Mask: Sweet P made a mask for Mardi Gras!

Letter M collage: Sweet P's collage of M words on a giant letter M.

Mouse coloring cards from A Heart for Home: We talked a little about coloring in the lines and I showed her how to color slowly with the red mouse. She traced each mouse tail and then worked on matching the colors with her markers.

Linking to:
 Montessori Monday

Guest Post: Nighttime Sensory Bin

I'm excited to introduce you to this week's guest blogger, Amanda from Dirt and Boogers! We love sensory bins and this Nighttime Sensory Bin looks like tons of fun for little ones! Amanda blogs about the adventures she has with her son J and has great ideas for sensory, fine motor and messy play!

Dirt and Boogers
Hi! I’m Amanda and I blog over at Dirt and Boogers, where I write about all the fun stuff I do with my toddler son, J. I am so happy to be posting over here at the Iowa Farmer’s Wife! I have loved Adrienne's blog for a long time and am so happy that she let me guest post for her!

One of J’s favorite things is playing in sensory trays, so I make a new one every week for him to explore. They usually follow some kind of theme like colors, shapes, farm animals…really anything that pops into my head. Recently, I found the cutest owl clothes pins that inspired me to make a nighttime sensory tray.

Our tray included:

  • Black beans
  • Eye bouncy balls inside neon cups
  • Marbles in a baby food jar
  • Halloween rings (bats and spiders)
  • Owl clothes pins
  • A spoon
I always add containers and spoons into our trays because J is into that stage of filling and dumping. I’m amazed at how long a sensory tray keeps his attention and the creativity he exhibits when playing.

Please remember that many of the objects in the tray are choking hazards, so use your own discretion and make sure your child is supervised.

Stained Glass Cross Craft

Sweet P made this as a gift for Gammie for her birthday. It's right up Gammie's alley and perfect for the Easter season. It was such a simple craft and it looked beautiful in the window! We sent it to Gammie so now we need to make one of our own!
The Craft: Stained Glass Cross

What you need:

  • Purple (or color of choice) card stock
  • Colored tissue paper (we used several colors but one is fine)
  • Contact paper
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Yarn
Cut a cross frame out of the card stock. I folded the card stock in half to cut it and it was much easier than trying to make the ends the same size. Cut contact paper twice the size of your cross (you'll need it to cover both sides), then cut the contact paper in half. Affix the cross onto one piece of the contact paper and cut around the edges so that the only sticky part is in the middle of the cross frame. Cut small pieces of tissue paper (child can help with this if scissor-aged), then have your child stick the tissue paper onto the contact paper until covered. Place the other piece of contact paper on top of the finished product and cut around the edge of the cross. Hole punch the top and thread a piece of yarn through the hole. Tie off the yarn and hang in a window. 

A great sensory project both when creating and admiring!

Handprint Easter Lily

The same woman who told my MOPS group about her responsibility chart and dusting mitts, also told us about Handprint Easter Lilies. She quickly explained the concept and then moved on to other ideas, but that one stuck with me and I love how they turned out!
I created an Easter Lily centerpiece for our kitchen and it has 3 lilies for Sweet P and 3 lilies for Baby Blue. I love the idea of doing this every year and eventually having a bouquet of handprint Easter lilies to cherish!

The idea is simple and a fun mom/child activity.
Here's what you need for the Handprint Easter Lily and centerpiece:
  • sheet of white foam
  • sheet of pink or red foam 
  • green pipe cleaner 
  • glue
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • solid base (I used a mushroom container, but a floral styrofoam block would work)
  • green construction paper
  • green pipe cleaners cut into small pieces
Easter Lily instructions:
Trace your child's hand on the white foam piece (I just press with a mechanical pencil and it makes enough of an indention to use as a cutline). Cut out handprint. Repeat if you want more lilies. Cut a small piece of pink foam and cut into three pieces to form the stamens. I used a glue gun, but other glue would work. Hot glue the stamen to the top of a green pipe cleaner, then glue the pipe cleaner to the bottom middle of the handprint. Glue one side of the handprint to the pipe cleaner/stamen, repeat with the other side so that the hand wraps together to form the lily. Fold down the fingers to form a flower. 

Centerpiece instructions:
Cut a large piece of construction paper in half laterally. Using a hot glue gun (or other glue) secure the green construction paper to your base. It should stand up around the edges and not fit perfectly. Allow to dry, then cut the tops of the paper about every inch or so to form grass (see picture). Have your child poke the small pieces of pipe cleaner into the base to add more grass. Arrange lilies and poke into grass.
Wa-la! Easter centerpiece! Sweet P loves asking which ones are hers and which ones are Baby Blue's hands. 

The Best Mom I Can Be


Mom Guilt.
Who doesn't have it, right? (and if you don't, I don't want to hear it)

I feel guilty for so many things on a daily basis. And I can't tell you how many times I think to myself, "I'm a bad mom." But the more I think about it, the more I realize, I'm not and Jesus wouldn't want me talking to myself like that.

Now, can I strive to be a better mom? Of course. Does that mean I need to throw myself under the bus and use negative self-talk in the process. No! So I'm throwing negative self-talk out the window in regards to my abilities as a mom.

Things I've got to realize:
There will always be moms who have it "more together" than I do
There will always be moms who are craftier than I am
There will always be moms who clean better than I do
There will always be moms who are better teachers than I am
There will always be moms more motivated than I am
There will always be moms who are more fashionable than I am 
There will always be moms who cook better than I do
There will always be moms who sing, play and dance better than I do

But I can tell you one thing:

There will never be a mom who loves my children more than me. My children think I have it all together, and that I'm a fashionable, crafty, motivated teacher, a cleaning machine and a gourmet cook who can sing, play and dance like nobody's business. And if I'm being the best mom I can be, THAT should be enough for me.

I posted this a year and a half ago, but it still rings true so I wanted to post it again. Mostly so that I can read it over and over and remember it. 

Book Recommendations for Big Girls

And by big girls I mean women.

I'm on my 13th book of the year (I've mentioned before that I'm a bona fide book nerd) so I felt like it was time for some book recommendations for ya. Same as in the past some aren't worth mentioning...so I won't. I'll just mention the good stuff (the ones you just can't put down even though it's 1am and the baby's going to wake up any minute).

The Restorer: The Sword of Lyric Series #1 ,The Restorer's Son (book #2) and The Restorer's Journey (#3): A trilogy about a mom wanting to grow closer to God who finds herself in another world. A world whose faith in God is astounding and a world where she's been sent by God to embark on a spiritual journey. I don't want to ruin anything, but you'll want to read 2 and 3 after reading the 1st one!

The Heart Mender: Based on true events, this book is an easy read full of history and a beautiful story about forgiveness and 2nd chances.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova: This book was heart-wrenching. Lots of tears involved, but such a good book about a 50 year old women who discovers she has Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease.

The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck: Definitely don't have to be in the Christmas spirit to read this book. A compelling book about forgiveness, the power of God and learning that God is MORE than enough. Based on true events.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J Maarten Troost: I know I'm going to regret writing that title in my blog, but the title really has nothing to do with the book. It's a hilarious book about the author's experience in Tarawa, a South Pacific island in the middle of absolute nowhere. Reading about the lives of those living on an atoll was so interesting and intriguing!

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford: I'm at the end of this one (it's number 13), but I can already tell you that it is such a good read. The history alone is fascinating and horrible at the same time.

I also reread The Hunger Games so I could refresh my memory before the movie comes out and it was just as good as the first time. If you haven't read it, then you should!

How do I have time to read? Well, I make time for it because it's something that I love. Sometimes I hole up in the bathroom in a bath and read until the water gets cold, or I stay up late to read. But by far the best way to read is while nursing the baby both at night and during the day. It's also something I want my children to see me doing so they know it's something you should do on a regular (every day) basis.

Guest Post: 5 Alternative Painting Methods for Toddlers

I am super excited about this guest post by Crystal who blogs about her sweet girls at Growing a Jeweled Rose. These painting ideas are awesome and I'm so glad she is sharing with you today! Check out her blog for some really great sensory play ideas and inspiration for fun-filled playdates!

Growing a Jeweled Rose

Hello everyone!  I am so excited to be guest posting today!  My name is Crystal and I am the author of the play based blog, Growing A Jeweled Rose.  Growing A Jeweled Rose is centered around my little girls, Jewel and Rosie.  We share lots of messy play ideas and some not so messy ones too!  Since painting is one of Rosie's favorite activities, I thought I would share some of our alternative painting methods with you today!
 Rosie asks to paint several times a day, so we are always coming up with new ways to explore with paint.  

Rosie had a blast painting with large cars

She loved the squishy gooey textures when painting with water beads 

Pine cone painting was a lot of fun!

Painting with Rosie's favorite toy was pure toddler bliss!

Rosie always has so much fun when we paint with left over pasta..  This is a great way to put that leftover pasta to use, or you could always make a little extra on purpose ;)

These are just a few of the ways Rosie has explored with paint.  We find new ways everyday!  I hope you like these painting ideas.  Painting is such a fun activity, and there really are endless ways to explore this simple art material!

I would love for you to drop by Growing A Jeweled Rose and check out some of our other fun play ideas!

Lastly, I would just like to thank The Iowa Farmer's Wife for providing me the opportunity to guest post here.  I just love this site, and this has been a true honor :) 

Making Faces Magnets

I saw this idea at the Iowa Children's Museum last summer and never got around to making them. Last week Sweet P found the baggy of facial features and asked what it was. I said, "Let's find out!" and quickly glued magnets to the back of the features. Making faces is one of Sweet P's FAVORITE things to do. She'll make them our of anything. Spots on the wall, food, bubbles, leaves, toys, if you've got 4 things in your hands- she'll make a face for you. I think sometimes she sees what might classify as a "Scary" face in spots on the wall as well (imagination is at work) so we talk about how those spots aren't "real" faces and her imagination is making them, but that's a post for another time! 

I placed the face magnets on a baking sheet and she immediately started making faces. She was a little upset that there weren't more noses so I need to cut out a few more for her because I think she'd really like to do this again (and make sure everyone has a nose).

This is a simple craft that costs nothing (unless you don't have any magazines laying around, but I'm willing to bet you probably do).

UPDATE: I laminated these and reglued the magnets and they are much easier to work with! We'll be taking these on our roadtrip in a few weeks, they'll be a great car activity! I've also added mustaches, glasses and more features.

Muffin Tin Monday: Rainbows

Sweet P asked for another rainbow this week and I decided to create one with muffin liners instead of on a plate and she gobbled it all up! She loves to stack them together once she finishes one. I made another one for dinner one night per her request and it, too, was a hit!

From left: shaved coconut, strawberries, carrots, pineapple, avocado, blueberry popsicle, cheese

Tot Preschool: Rainbows

Sweet P is 34.5 months old

Sweet P did several rainbow activities to celebrate St. Patrick's Day last week in addition to a few green activities she did the week before.

Bible verse: Happy are the kind and merciful. -Matthew 5:7

Cut and paste a rainbow: I gave Sweet P some colored paper, scissors, a paintbrush and glue in a small bowl while I was making dinner one night and asked, "Can you make a rainbow?" I think it turned out pretty neat (and yes, I know pink isn't part of ROYGBIV, but the kid loves pink). Here's what she did:
 Pompon sorting:

Dotting a rainbow: Sometimes I don't want to take the time to make something in word so I just draw it for Sweet P. I made this rainbow by tracing a curved edge of a bowl and then wrote the colors out in the corresponding color of marker. Our trays are laid out on the floor against a wall in our school room and one morning I ran upstairs to use the restroom after we did our calendar time. When I came back down Sweet P had picked up this tray and was already dotting with the violet dot marker in the violet portion. I was shocked that she knew exactly what to do! It was a pretty neat moment and I definitely realized what an independent girl we have. We hung it up, but brought it back down for another activity later in the week.

Pompon sorting on the rainbow: I helped her out a bit with this activity by holding pompons in place because the paper has rolled a bit after the dot markers dried so it was tough to get the pompons to stay in one place while putting on more.

Color a rainbow: This printable is from Making Learning Fun and similar to the dotting a rainbow activity. I don't have a picture of the finished product, but she also picked out star and smiley face stickers that corresponded with each color and added those as well.

Rainbow Sticker Match: Sweet P matched smiley face stickers to the corresponding color on the rainbow. There were a LOT of red dots to fill with stickers so we started pretending that each smiley face was someone we knew. This printable is also from Making Learning Fun.

Rainbow tile sorting: These are coasters that I've had for quite awhile and when I looked at them the other day I thought they'd be perfect for a rainbow activity. She lined them up according to ROYGBIV and then placed them back in their container several times. Planning to use these for other color sorting activities now that I've realized their dual purpose! 

Pipe Cleaner Rainbow: I was washing out a mushroom container one morning and realized it was the perfect consistency for pipe cleaners. I cut pipe cleaners into smaller pieces (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple) and made a cloud out of a white one. I demonstrated how to stick the pieces in the styrofoam for Sweet P and she went to work. She really enjoyed this and did it several times, arranging the pipe cleaners around the edge and then placing them back in a row.

Check out our St. Patrick's Day sensory bin, our Shamrock craft, our leprechaun on a stick and leprechaun furniture.

Linking up:
 Montessori Monday