What movies really teach my kids…

By: Inger Koppenhaver

Did you ever think about all of the weird things your children learn from kid movies?

Tangled – taught my son that you don’t wear socks with boots.

Wreck it Ralph – taught my son to hit things with a hammer to fix things…. including noses.

Spirit – taught my kids to communicate like horses… sometimes loudly and sometimes loudly in the middle of the mall.

Enchanted – taught my kids about the nature of cockroaches and that one of their enemies is a bird.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 – taught my kids that it is okay for animal tacos to eat people as long as they are mean people and you have young baby Tacos to protect.

Despicable Me – taught my son to sing the foreign language know only by minions and kids under 5.

Despicable me 2 – taught my son it is okay to to take moms Chapstick and yank the lid off only if you are yelling “lipstick taser!” at the same time.

Word World – taught my son that singing about pink underpants when you don’t know the words to twinkle twinkle little star is funny.

Lego Movie – beyond the fact that it briefly shared that Legos can have no clothes (WHA?!?) and that joking about having no pants is a great idea for a tv show, it actually inspired my boy to become a master builder so… Awesome!

Curious George – no complaints!

What sort of hidden messages have your children learned from kid’s shows/movies?

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Bill Nye and Ken Ham, You are BOTH Winners to Me!

Tyler's Robot0001I, like many other people, watched a lively debate last night between Bill Nye, and Ken Ham.  If you have not had a chance to view this debate you can catch it here.  It will be there for viewing the next few days.

The debate was, “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?”  This is a hot topic here in the United States, especially when it comes to the education of our children and what should be taught in public schools.  There are many strong opinions on both sides of the argument, and therefore you will probably not need to look very far to find many a commentary on this subject.

I personally am not writing this blog to take sides in the issue.  (This will be a shock to anyone who knows me, because I’m opinionated!)  Granted I could pick apart things both men said, but that is not what I’m going to do.  Why?  Because honestly I think there is something more important I’d like to discuss right now.

I want to just thank both men for their willingness to take the time to discuss a hot button issue in a civilized, organized, well researched, well prepared format that was respectful of the other person and the people they represent.  Sure they CLEARLY had points they disagreed on, and they both had emotional concerns they wanted to express.  Yet, for the most part, they kept their cool.  That to me is an important thing for people to see.  I believe that in a society which has lost the art of respect, it is a wonderful thing to see such professionalism shown.  It was refreshing to see a debate that didn’t lower itself to “who can yell the loudest must be right”, as I have unfortunately witnessed too many times in my own public high school background.

I agree with Mr. Nye when he stated that if America falls behind in the sciences we will have a hard time competing in a global economy.  The need for more people in the sciences I believe is a concern for all Americans on both sides of the debate.  In a way I got the impression that part of the reason for the debate was that Mr. Ham was asking the academic community for more flexibility, which would allow for more varied opinions in academia, which would allow for more people to work in the sciences.

The reality is that people don’t have to agree on all the theories held in the varying scientific fields to be able to work together for a greater good of this nation.  There are people of many beliefs who have contributed to the science related fields all over the world.  It could even be argued one doesn’t even need a good grasp of reality to contribute to our scientific advancement.   What they do need however is respect for others.

I think if more people found more scientific leaders willing to kindly and respectfully discuss topics like Mr. Nye and Mr. Ham did, rather than the name calling, condescension, and “my way or the highway”, attitude that has been displayed by some, we might see more people willing to go into these fields.  (Just to be clear I’m not trying to point fingers or pick a fight with anyone, quite the contrary.  I’m saying there is too much of that already out there, and not enough of the “let’s move forward” attitude that has made this nation great.)

I would like to see more openness for discussions without name calling like Mr. Nye and Mr. Ham displayed, because respectful, researched discussion just sharpens the minds of the people who are involved.  If we are excel as a nation we have to play like a team.  You don’t have to agree with everyone on your team’s beliefs, you just have to be able to work with them.  We don’t want to lose track of the goal for the sake of ego.

So, thank you once again Mr. Nye, Mr. Ham, and all those who had a part in last night’s debate.  I feel the debate last night was a win for all because I personally was left with many more questions about the universe we live in.  If others were as well, then I’d say some discoveries are on the horizon!

How about you?  Did you find yourself asking questions after the debate?  Did it rekindle an interest in science or the Bible for you?

FREE LESSON ~ KIDS CREATE SNOWMEN AND MORE!

By: Inger Koppenhaver

Oh yes another Christmas lesson AND YET… also a cool craft lesson in disguise!  We have had days here recently where the temperatures have dipped to low for outside play.  So, why not create INSIDE SNOWMEN?  Try your hand at our creations and have some “warm” winter fun!

Snowmen

Snowmen, crafts sticks and MORE!  When you give your kids the reigns who knows what they will create!!! ~ December – Week 3

FREE LESSON ~ Winter Notebooking

By: Inger Koppenhaver

While Christmas has come and gone… winter notebooking continues on!!  Cold weather is the perfect time for a craft project… enjoy! :)

Winter Notebooking

Click here for the free lesson: December Week 2 and click here for the notebooking page: Notebooking Page

10 Things That are Worth the Money

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I would add this to the list, but I don’t know what it is called.

I get asked every year what I want for Christmas and my birthday. Likewise every year I have to figure out what to get others. While I’ll probably still be stumped about both items, I thought maybe I could help some of you out with a list of items I have enjoyed and think are TOTALLY worth the money, even if it is a splurge. Maybe you can use this article to talk someone into buying an item for you! For the record none of these companies pay me to say nice things about these products. (Although I wouldn’t exactly be sad if they wanted to.) This is just my little old opinion not in any particular order. I tried to have a variety of price range items. If you would like a list of items for babies or toddlers, I’d suggest clicking here for that list.

1) KitchenAid Stand Mixer. I have the Artisan size with the wisk, regular paddle, and the dough hook. They now come in so many fun colors!  For me the space it takes up on the countertop is worth it. Although technically I have mine on a Baker, which solves that issue. My grandfather used to have pull out cabinets that he kept his in.

2) Local Zoo Pass:  Our zoo pass is pretty affordable.  It is equal to three trips there for us, so if you go more that three times you come out ahead!  Our small children love the zoo!

3) Compost Pail:  I provided a link to the pail I have because I love it so.  I can put scraps in it and don’t have to walk outside to dump them right away.  The carbon filters prevent it from smelling.

4) Quality Cookware:  Certain brands of cookware have lifetime warranties and/or amazing reputations, which make them worth the little bit more you pay upfront.  Calphalon is one such brand that I’ve heard good things about.  I’ve also heard good things about All-Clad.  (Perhaps some of you have brands you’d like to share about.) Other than lifetime warranties, it is worth paying for stainless steel (18/10 is the thicker gage), or hard anodized cookware.  The spray-on type (Teflon) coating just doesn’t last and peals off into your food.  I’ve been through several of those.  In the list of quality cookware I have to add a quality Dutch Oven.  I have a Staub, and I LOVE it.

5) Real Wood Furniture:  I personally feel that it would be better to buy pre-owned, real wood furniture than newly made, mass-manufactured particle board furniture.  I’m not saying this because I’m a snob.  I’ve actually owned both types.  For the money the real wood has some advantages.  1:  It is usually more durable.  2:  It is easier to fix.  You can’t buff out a knick in a laminated piece of wood.  3:  Over time, and especially with heat, the laminate tends to separate from the particle board and peal off.

6) Food Processor:  I tend to cringe when I see commercials for the Baby Bullet.  The reason is that for the money you can buy a food processor that not only will make baby food, but will slice, chop, grate, and mix other foods as well.  Sure the “bullet” has those nifty jars, but I find milk bags work just as well and you can freeze them flat, stack them nicely, and label them.

7) Canning Jars:  These things are becoming popular lately as “redneck” drinking containers, but honestly they are so much more!!  I find them very nifty for making yogurt, canning things, and pickling things.   They hold liquids very well for drinks, soup, or whatever your little heart can imagine.  I really like that I can pour hot things in them.  The lids can be written on, and are easy to come by if you lose them, or need new ones due to canning.  The jars come in a large variety of sizes.

8) Quality Spices:  I think spices really are the spice of life.  I am a HUGE fan of Penzeys which has a gigantic supply of spices from around the world.  Did you know spices start to lose their flavor after 6 months?  Did you also know there are at least four kinds of cinnamon?  Did you know there are different types of cocoa, salt, pepper, and paprika?  If not, check out Penzeys.  There are so many tastes out there you may want to meet.  I’ve had a lot of fun changing up food around my place.

9)Immersion Blender:  Ok this one falls into the want category pretty far, but I like mine a lot!  I think I really like that it blends up hot liquids right in their pots.  Pouring hot liquids is a bad idea for me, so this is A LOT safer!  I use mine for baby food, refried beans, soup, chili, curry, spaghetti sauce, milkshakes, and whip cream.  It cleans up easily if you clean it right after you use it.  I don’t suggest letting stuff dry on.  That does NOT come off easily and you risk cutting yourself if you try to scrub the blades.  The only real downside to the one I have, other than the cleaning, is that I can’t use it on ice.

10) Costco Membership:  I should probably just work at Costco I am there so often.  They have awesome stuff, good prices, and free samples of food!  What’s not to like?  If you don’t have one near you, which is tragic, they have an online website.  Oh I know some of you have Sam’s Club memberships, but I’ll just assume that is because you don’t know the beauty of a Costco membership.  :)  Some people may be put off by the membership fees, but they have a Costco American Express card which has no fees and gives you cash back on your purchases.  I use mine enough that the cash back more than covers the cost of our membership!

So there you have it.  Ten items I like, and a bonus mystery item!    I did mention a few items with blades, and/or moving parts, so PLEASE read all the safety information on these products prior to use. 

How about you?  Do you have something you love and think everyone would want if they only knew how great it was?  What is on your wish list?

10 things that are worth the money

How to Make (and Budget for) Gift Baskets with Kids

By: Inger Koppenhaver

December is the month of gifts!

Every year since my twin girls were six years old, we have attempted to make five to ten little gift baskets to hand out at Christmas time. Some years, they have just included a small treat. One year we made a homemade snow globe and added it to our baked goods. They are not perfect but they are made with good intentions. It started out as my idea but has now morphed into a mom and kids family project. Their excitement for this project grows each year and it has become easier to come up with more names, as well.  I have included a lesson on how to help your children budget for their gift baskets (after the graphic below – don’t miss it!)  Also, make sure to scroll to the bottom of this blog entry because we have shared our favorite recipe link PLUS a recipe for Candy Cane Chocolate Roll Ups and a chocolate pretzel recipe that works for us too!

Kid's Cooking

FREE LESSONS FOR KIDS K-5th GRADE!  Enjoy a day of giving… Click on the link for the lesson PDF: December – Week 1

Recipes we love:

Pomegranates and Chocolate – oh yes, it’s that good: http://econobusters.com/well_hello_mr_pomegranate/

We also made M & M cookies, Chocolate covered pretzel sticks and a yellow cake decorated to look like a gift.

Chocolate Covered Pretzel Sticks ~ I am sure you can find many variations of chocolate covered pretzels on the web or through Pinterest.  This is what worked for us!  Keeping the chocolate on a low heat on the stove helped us to continue making the treats while ensuring that our chocolate was still melted.  Microwaving the chocolate gave us mixed results and created more of a mess.   The small candy canes crushed in their packages were also easier for us to sprinkle on the chocolate.  Enjoy!

Supplies:  Small Pot, Waxed Paper, Chocolate Chips (semi sweet), Small Candy Canes Crushed with a spoon in the package and Long, Thick Pretzel Sticks (rods)

Melt the full bag of chocolate chips on low in a very small pot. Make sure to continuously stir the pot so that the chocolate will not burn on the bottom.  When the chocolate was smooth and melted through we kept the heat on low and started dipping our large pretzel sticks into the pot.  Use a spoon to make sure to cover the pretzel thoroughly. When your stick is covered (not dripping, just fully covered) transfer it to the wax paper sheet.  Cut open a small candy cane that has already been crushed and sprinkle the candy cane on the outside of the chocolate.  Let it dry and cool completely before wrapping with saran wrap.  It is helpful to cut the candy canes open before getting messy with chocolate! (We found this out the hard way!)

Candy Cane Flavored Chocolate Roll Ups

Supplies: Chocolate Chips (semi sweet), Peppermint Torani, Small Candy Canes Crushed with a spoon in the package, small pot and waxed paper

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Melt the chocolate chips the same way you did when making the chocolate covered pretzels.  When the chocolate chips are completely melted, remove the pot from the heat.  You will need to add 1 tablespoon of peppermint torani syrup.  Mix it into the melted chocolate immediately.  The mixture should start to firm up right away.  If your mixture is not firm, add more torani syrup 1 teaspoon at a time.  See picture below for how your chocolate peppermint mixture should look now.

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Next, pour your crushed candy canes into a small bowl.  Take a small spoonful of the chocolate mixture out of the bowl and roll it into a ball in your hands.  You will then take the balls and press them into the candy cane bowl making sure to cover the entire chocolate peppermint ball.  Put them on the waxed paper to cool then wrap them in plastic wrap or place them in snack sized sandwich bags.

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Below Zero and Still Smiling… Top Ten List of Things to Do when It’s Too Cold to Do Anything Else!

By: Inger Koppenhaver

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I am a glass is half full kind of person… and so is my husband.  With so many negatives in the world, why waste your time worrying about things that you can not change?  Right?  For example… it has been below zero degrees for most of the week this week with temperatures dropping down to almost -40 with a -45 to -50 degree windchill.  (See my previous post for what this feels like: http://hidingthepeas.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/how-cold-is-too-cold/)    Have we sat around lamenting about the weather?  NO! (well, okay a little bit…) But, we have done loads of other things and compiled our short list for you today.

Top Ten Things to Do when the Temperature Drops Below Zero

10.  Arts and Crafts:  Yes, yes, our random “waiting for a rainy (er, snowy, er, cold) day” projects came out of the closets today!  My kids “fun loomed” until they could loom no more, built a model airplane complete with paint and stickers and made a plan for a whole bunch of made from scratch crafts for Christmas.

9.  Clean as a Whistle:  Our house has never looked better.  Have you heard of spring cleaning?  Try below zero cleaning!  It’s a blast…

8.  We Saw the Light:  My husband decided to grace our laundry room with a present this weekend… a brand new light!  It is so bright it feels like you are walking outside.  And it was just what we needed for a cold and dreary day.  We are talking about putting some lawn chairs in there so we can soak up the rays.

7.  Technology:  My children finally learned to share the random technology gadgets we have in the house.  Wow, that in itself is priceless.

6.  Weird Science:  My son conducted his very own, self motivated Science experiment… right outside on our porch!  How fast does water freeze in weather like this… GO!

5.  You Tube:  My husband also had time to watch a how to video on making a stove out of a beer/pop can.  I am not sure this counts as productive but heck, he was smiling!

4.  Warmth from the Hearth:  We discovered that baking warms up your house.  So, we baked… A LOT.  Heard of the Freshman 15?  There may just be a Below Zero 10 lbs floating around our house when this freeze is over.  But, mmmm mmmm good!

3.  Hot Chocolate:  The hot chocolate and marshmallows seem to have multiplied overnight!!!  So, at least they aren’t gremlins, right?  Nothing the matter with a few extra marshmallows (except if that contributes to #4 see above).

2.  Blanket and a Book:  My daughters were ever so happy to just stay cuddled in blankets with the book of their choice.  I opted for a couch, my laptop, and a blanket (which is why this post is here today! lol)  Great weekend to get caught up with a book or blog post or two…

AND #1…

1.  Long Winter Movie:  Yes, yes a below zero inside party cannot be complete without some snuggle time and a good movie!  Family time at it’s best… although a good nap may just be in order, as well.

STAY WARM!  What are your favorite BELOW ZERO activities?

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