About our blogger: Jess

I am a 27 year old stay at home mom to Jonah, born in August of '08. Before having my son, I worked as a preschool teacher for eight years. I graduated from Kent State University with a bachelor's in psychology and philosophy. My studies there focused on human cognition, and early childhood cognition focusing on language acquisition and memory. I am hoping to return to school soon to work on my master’s degree in either speech pathology or experimental psychology. Hobbies that I enjoy are ballroom dancing, amateur astronomy, art, and scrapbooking.

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Posts by Jess:

June 26th, 2012

Test Kitchen Tuesday: From Ground to Table

This year, I decided to hold no expectations from our little garden. Last year’s garden did not go well at all. So while I tried to learn from that experience and carry over the knowledge obtained to this year’s garden, I maintained that I was going to put the plants in the dirt, water them, weed them, keep them free of pests, and whatever happens will happen. This year, we kept it small, both out of necessity and practicality. We no longer live on the three acres that we had use of last year. Our yard is very small, and many people would not think of growing vegetables! I think this has been to our advantage, because it is not as overwhelming, and I am able to care for the garden much better. We also are using a raised garden bed and other containers, giving us more control over the soil. And finally, we did not plant seeds this year, but bought young plants already started to transplant into our garden. Again, this served to keep me from getting overwhelmed, and it allows me to get more familiar with the plants I am growing before trying to get them to grow from seeds. The end result to these changes from last year – sweet (small but mighty) victory. It might not look like much, but compared to our yield from last year, it is bountiful. Okay, that might be stretching it a bit – so far we have three varieties of lettuce that we are enjoying, and this week- broccoli! Read the rest of this entry »


May 28th, 2012

Long Weekend Fun

This holiday weekend is hot, hot, hot! And for the first time in my life, I am living with no AC of any kind. I have lived with central air, I have lived with window units in just a couple of rooms, and I have lived with a unit in just one room, but I have never lived without having the reassurance that there is somewhere to go to escape the heat.

To cool off in our yard, we decided to break out the very popular water table. I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to also try out sidewalk painting! It is very simple and took all of our minds off the beating heat.

What you need:
Food Coloring
Paint Cups or other containers (yogurt containers or old empty play dough containers would be great!)
Small bowl to mix the water with the color
Paint brushes
A good piece of sidewalk or driveway

In a small bowl, mix about 3-4 tablespoons of water with 6-10 drops of the desired color of food coloring. I like to mix the color into the water first, because that makes the color very even and easier to mix in. In the paint container, put about 2-3 tablespoons of cornstarch. You want there to be more water than cornstarch, however, the consistency is up to your preferences. If you don’t add enough water, the paint will be hard to spread on the sidewalk and will just kind of blob up. If you’ve ever made oobleck with your kids, then you are already familiar with the reasons why! But you also don’t want it to be too watery, because the paint will run all over and won’t be much fun. At any rate, place the cornstarch into the container. Slowly add the colored water until you get a consistency that you like, stirring as you add. Repeat with as many colors as you wish to have. The kids had a lot of fun helping to make it.

Take it outside, and find your inner Picasso! Or, in my kids’ case, Jackson Pollock!

Read the rest of this entry »

May 15th, 2012

Fired From Oscar Meyer- No Weaners Here!

I can sit here and tell you that the global average age for weaning is 4 years old. I can tell you that naturally, mammals typically nurse until they get their first permanent molars- around age six for humans. I can say that the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding children until the age of two years old, and that the American Acadamy of Pediatrics says that mothers are “encouraged to continue breastfeeding through the first year and beyond as more and varied complementary foods are introduced.” Let me re-stress that: Through the first year and beyond. One more time: and beyond.

I could tell you that she isn’t ready. I could tell you that Michael Jordan was breastfed until he was 3. I could tell you all of these things and then some. As if I have to defend the choices I have made for myself and my child.

The truth is, most often times, I do. Because this little girl:

Read the rest of this entry »

March 27th, 2012

Hat Counting Felt Board

Felt boards are often items that parents see in preschool classrooms and say, “That would be neat to have at home!” It seems as though these fun learn-and-play items are only available to teachers or day cares. I want to show you how anyone can make a felt board for their playroom, and it only costs around $10! The one I picture below cost about $7 to make. I don’t have any pictures of the process of making the board; I tried, but technology hates me this week.

~Large piece of sturdy cardboard (I used a board that I found with the poster board at my craft store)
~ Ply wood would work too, if it is thin enough to fit the frame, and would offer a more sturdy felt board.
~Large frame with no backing or glass. My craft store has a clearance rack for frames that are just the wooden framing, for a few dollars depending on the size. The one I chose was $3.
~Large sheet of white felt. These should be next to or under the smaller sheets of felt, folded and in plastic packaging.
~Hot Glue Gun

Step 1.
Cut the board to fit inside the frame. Cut the felt so that it gives a 2-3 inch border around the edges of the board. (If you place the board in the center of the felt, there should be 2-3 inches of felt surrounding all sides of the board.)

Step 2. Read the rest of this entry »


March 14th, 2012

Moments of Beauty

When I was young, the church that my family attended would have a time for congregation members to share “joys and concerns” for which they would like to have a prayer. Every week, one particular elderly woman who was known to be quite eccentric, would stand and share her “moments of beauty” with the church. Moments, small and large, that struck her as something that was God-filled. Moments when, even just for a fleeting second, she had something beautiful in her heart.

Today was a beautiful day for a run. Mid 60′s, sunny, cool breeze. My training schedule said I should only take seven miles, but instead I went for nine. And along the way, I had several moments of beauty that I would like to share. Am I becoming a kooky eccentric old woman? Well, I turn 30 this week, so Read the rest of this entry »

March 2nd, 2012

Happy Birthday to an Icon

One of my heroes while growing up was, and always will be, Theodor Seuss Geisel. He was, of course, better known by his children’s book pen names Dr. Seuss and Theo LeSieg. On Friday, March 2nd, it would have been the late children’s author’s 108th birthday. This date has also been reserved as “National Read Across America Day,” during which many communities are holding read-a-thons and attempts to break records for reading related events.

I had wanted to share with you a whole week of activities that I have planned to celebrate my favorite author. Unfortunately, my ancient laptop has finally bit the dust, and my computer access is highly limited at the moment. So for now, I will share with you some of the ideas that I have planned. I will make my best attempt to post our personal experiences with the activities through the week. I have categorized the activities with the books that they go with. A good starting point, before you jump right into these, would be to check out the websites: (I will refer to this further on in the post!)

Oh the Places You’ll Go
~Discuss different jobs that your child could have when they grow up. Glue a paper doll die cut to a piece of paper and have your child decorate it as what they would like to be or do. 
~Make a balloon wall! Cut balloon shapes out of construction paper and have your child look through magazines to find pictures of things they would like to see or places they would like to go. Help them cut out the pictures and paste them to the balloons collage style, and hang them on a wall where they can look at it and be proud. Read the rest of this entry »

February 23rd, 2012

"Chocolate-Covered Strawberry" Oatmeal Pancakes

Valentine’s Day occurred in our house a few days late because of our vacation to Arizona. It crossed my mind to pack everything up and take it with us to create a fun day for the kids, but we decided to pack very lightly, and all of our pink, red, and heart shaped items were left at home. I wasn’t going to let the kids miss out on their day of fun special treats, though! They don’t know that the rest of the world celebrated love and romance over a week ago! My favorite part of the day is probably breakfast, because the kids are always so delighted to find heart shapes somewhere on their plate! The oatmeal in these pancakes make them a little more hearty (pun intended) than regular pancakes, and it also replaces wheat flour and sugar in the overall volume of pancake that you are eating. The chocolate chips are optional; I thought I’d throw them in as a special treat on a holiday!

1 batch of your favorite pancake batter
1/4 cup of skim milk
1-2 cups quick oats
2 cups frozen strawberries, mostly thawed and chopped coarsely
about 1 cup chocolate chips

Prepare your favorite pancake batter or mix. Add in the extra milk, oats, and strawberries. Mix until well incorporated, with 3-5 strokes of your spoon. Do not over mix the batter; it may be lumpy, just be sure that the oats and strawberries are evenly distributed.

Heat a frying pan or griddle over medium-low heat until a pat of butter or drop of water “dances” on it. Butter the cooking surface well. Use cooking spray or butter to lubricate the sides of  metal heart shaped cookie cutters. Place a metal heart shaped cookie cutter on the cooking surface, and use a spoon to place batter within the cookie cutter, making sure that batter covers all corners. Drop a few chocolate chips evenly throughout the surface of the batter. Read the rest of this entry »


January 28th, 2012


In an attempt to keep the kids active during the winter, we signed them up for parent-child swim lessons. We are very fortunate that the area we moved to has a wonderful recreational department, and we plan to fully take advantage of it!

Swimming started last week, twice a week for forty minutes per session. The lessons were listed as two separate classes, however ages 0-3 were all put into the same group once we got there. This has advantages and disadvantages for our family. I was disappointed at first, because I was hoping that Jonah would learn basic skills such as floating, kicking, and putting his face in the water. I think that the older children in the class are not getting age appropriate water skills. However, since both kids are in the same class, Daryl and I can spend that time with the kids as a family. Although the sessions are basically just water play, the “instructor” goes between each parent-child couple to give suggestions on ways to strengthen certain skills.

Jonah loves to float on his back, hold a “noodle,” and chase balls through the water. Evie is working on building confidence in the water and not being afraid. She loves blowing bubbles and kicking!

These swim lessons are not only a great way for our family to spend evenings exercising together; they are offering a great outlet for the kids’ energies, exposing them to new experiences and providing wonderful sensory activities. I am hoping that these classes will evolve to teach them knowledge of water safety and potentially life saving skills of swimming and floating.

So although the temperatures are still chilly, just look for my family pool side!

January 21st, 2012

Turkey Noodle Soup

Home made soup is the perfect dinner for a day like today! Last week, I roasted one of the turkeys that I got on sale after Thanksgiving. The turkey has provided us with meals for a week, and it only cost $13. Today, I had just enough turkey left for this soup, and I had frozen turkey stock that I had made from a previous turkey. Measurements are estimated, especially the herbs and spices. Please adjust the recipe to your taste! You can also add celery and onions with the carrots; I just didn’t have any today!

Turkey Noodle Soup:
8 cups turkey stock (or chicken stock)
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups-2 cups diced or shredded turkey
2 cups bow tie pasta (or whatever your shape preference)
1 tablespoon dried parsley (fresh would also be nice)
2 tsp  ground marjoram
2 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp ground mustard
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil Read the rest of this entry »

January 16th, 2012

Snowed In Fun: Indoor Snowball Fight

Jonah has been asking since October to have a snowball fight. He wants to go sledding, build a snowman, go ice skating, and above all: have a snowball fight.

The problem is, we haven’t had much snow this year. In November, we were able to go outside and enjoy a light dusting; other than that, the only snow we have gotten has been in conjunction with temperatures in the teens. It is followed by warm weather which immediately reduces the beautiful snow into muddy slushy sludge.

So now that the snow is falling heavily outside of our window, and little voices are asking to go out, what do I do considering that it is 18 degrees F?

We have a snowball fight, of course! One that requires no gloves or bulky coats that restrict movement, and it provides gross motor opportunities as well as tactile sensory integration!

Over the summer, I picked up some shower loofahs at the dollar store, 4 for $1. I bought twelve of them specifically for this activity, so I made sure that they were at least partially white (they had no all-white loofahs).

I did not show the loofahs to the kids, but instead, played up the idea that we are going to have a “snowball fight.” I asked them if they wanted to have a snowball fight INside, because it was too cold to go OUTside. Of course, the idea thrilled them. I brought them up to our play area, which is a nice spacious area with very little that can be knocked over or broken. If you do this in your living room, please remove any lamps, knick knacks, or pictures that could be broken.

I dumped the bag of “snowballs” onto the floor. The kids stared at me. Read the rest of this entry »