A Dollop of Sour Cream

I'm not much into spicy food. I have recently discovered that if a meal is just a tad too spicy for me, I can put sour cream on top and make it not just palatable, but wonderful. This blog is devoted to doing the same for life.



Things My Son likes to Play with: Lacing Toys

Even before Christmas, my MIL had provided some toys for our son to play with at her house. She had a good assortment there. Two that have proven better toys after we left than even when we were there though were Melissa and Doug Lacing toys:

Melissa and Doug Lacing Beads in a Box

The other is lacing shapes -- Melissa and Doug Lace and Trace Shapes.

There was no box with either -- but the boxes are not necessary as it turns out. In fact, they may just make it harder to store.

These have proven invaluable, both for their traditional purpose of lacing (though for the the wooden beads, you need to tie the first block onto the shoelace so it will not fall off.) and for stacking up like blocks. (The trace and lace shapes do not stack, but are a lot more intriguing than other lacing shape toys, even wooden ones, I have. He will sit quietly for 10-15 minutes at a time, lacing the shape up until he has used the entire length of the lace. And then want to do it again after Momma removes the lace from the holes.)

I think the STOP sign is his favorite because he can read the word on it. But he has not turned down any of them to play with.

Warning: With the blocks, you need to be careful that they do not spin the beads on a lace around themselves. This seems to be a very popular play. Also, the laces are long enough to choke.

But the shapes store easily in a quart size Ziploc, so are an easy toy to take on the road. They have also survived quite well a 2-year old's interest. They are sturdy and I do not mind handing these to him to play with. And the blocks, while the paint on some are peeling, are bright, colorful, and engaging to use. The different shapes leads to some insights about stacking as well while working with them.


Toys I really played with: Dollhouse

Originally uploaded by my boaz's ruth

This time I am changing the theme a bit to spotlight the dollhouse I had as a kid. We (my sister and I both got one the same year) got them WAY back in 1978, when I was just 5 years old. It had a lot of my parents love and care in it as they put the dollhouses together from a kit. But there were nice touches that made the houses all our own. One was that one of the pictures on the wall (with picture frame and everything) had my picture in it. There were magnets on the doors to make the door swing back and forth. And my dad stained the wood to make it this rich brown color. My mother made the coverings for the furniture (unfortunately, not available to take pictures of at the moment).

The picture above was usually towards the wall (most of our play was done in place, but the dollhouses were occasionally carried, by a great babysitter, into the front room so we could play there). But it shows the nice front porch and one of the swinging doors.

Here is the side we normally played on (you can see a couple of pictures on the wall):

The side door, going into the kitchen

Notice the detail in the windows:

I am very much looking forward to having a daughter, a little "Ruth," at which point we'll pull the furniture out of storage and pass this house down for her to play with.

Post written for Bilingual Boys' Toys My Children Actually Play With series.


Looking for Lists of Christmas books

Wish I knew how to make a McLinky.

I'm looking for folks' lists of favorite Christmas books. I'd like to start a special library to bring out in December (and maybe early January too?)
I'll start out the list with one I've seen recently. I know I saw a second but couldn't find it :( I'll add lists to here as they are posted.

Preschoolers and Peace: I recently picked up One Wintry Night and the Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Tooney because of this. I put Mary's First Christmas, I spy Little Christmas, and The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado back on the shelf because I forgot it was here :(

Hope is the Word:


The Umbrella Stroller

My Bilingual Boys is doing a Linky of Toys my Children Actually Play With and I thought this week I would not be able to participate. And then my husband said "Maybe we ought to do something about the light on in the van" -- so here I am, sitting in the auto repair shop while they work on our car. and I've got TIME!

This week's "toy" is an umbrella stroller. I have toy in quotation marks like that because it isn't really a toy. It's a full size, cheapie umbrella stroller that my mom got free with another purchase and brought to us to use when he was about 3 months old. We had a Graco Snuglider we liked using at the time, and picked up a Baby Jogger City Mini before he outgrew that. So we just kept this umbrella stroller for emergencies or if we might need a small stroller.

Now, with our latest move, it is sitting set up in the garage for going to "visit" the mailbox (which is not just outside our house, and is too far for our 2 year old to walk the entire way there and back). So when we are out there for other reasons, my son makes a beeline to the two "toys" in the garage. His Cozy Coupe Police Car (more about this another time) and this little stroller.

He has to reach up, over his head, to grab the handlebars, but this does not dissuade him. He turns it around, and stands at the door, waiting for me to raise the garage door and let him and his "ride" out. As soon as the door is open, he pushes it out. There's a pause as he negotiates the small step at the edge of the garage, and then he is off, quick little stepping the stroller down to the end of the street and, just about the time we're reminding him NOT to go into the street, swinging it around and Up the driveway it goes.

The great thing about this stroller is that he can also push it across the grass. so if he sees other kids playing next door, next thing I know Obed and his stroller are halfway across the yard, to join them.

1.It can also be used to hold Obed on trips.

2. We already had it

3. It folds down very small

1. It's still a mite too tall for him
2. If he put a toy into it, I'm afraid it would fall out. (but he hasn't tried to do this)

Anyway, it works for us. I have no fear he's going to break it. Though I guess anything is possible.


Jesse Tree

Is it my imagination or is the Jesse Tree becoming more common? I first heard about this tradition 7 years ago when I was hanging out with one of my best friends as she worked on coming up with the Jesse Tree items for her son for that Christmas. (Her son is blind so she needed stuff that were tactile or hearing, and that was my idea of why she needed to make up her own. At the time). I was very interested, knew I wanted to do it one day with my kids. I got a list of the Jesse Tree ornaments/thees from her and packed it away in a "safe" place.

During the next year, her and her husband mentored my now-husband and I, moved to Austin, TX, and then she died. So I had no time to ask her any more questions about it. We got married. Every year I "meant" to do something with it. But never did. This year, my son is two. I figure its now or never! Luckily, I started back in September or this would be impossible (though as it is, I delayed enough that I'll have to work on more thorough ornaments next year -- though maybe some of the fun in it is getting the children themselves to make the ornaments?)

The Jesse Tree idea comes from Isaiah 11:1 "A shoot will spring forth from the stump of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots." The idea I want to put forth with our family Jesse Tree is that Jesus, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas time, did not just happen to arrive on earth when he did. But, rather, that the entirety of the Old Testament points toward him and he's the culmination of the events of the Old Testament.

Rocks in my Dryer overview

RCA devotions (with simple pictures)

Tired, need Sleep, with toddler-friendly coloring ornaments and a good list

The Adventures of Bear Holiday traditions post

Associated Content links
(including another great coloring download

Serendipity, and great felt ornaments

A set of ornaments focused on the people

A set of color ornaments

A lot of people read Jotham's Journey by Arnold Ytreeide at this time of year. I'm not sure if it is Jesse Tree related or not, but at that price, I picked up a copy. If you like it, there are two sequels (Tabitha's is being re-released next year so don't pay the exorbiant prices)

Another book that looks neat is Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean.

A good devotional for download is The Glorious Coming by Amy Voscamp, available in both ebook and book form.


A Toy I do not know its name

This week's Toy my son actually plays with is a little odd. I don't know what it is, exactly. I just know how my son is playing with it.

I'll include pictures as I go. If you know what it is, speak up! He's had SO much fun with it I'd like to get the "next step up" (Do you have an idea what this might be?). It's a combination activity cube/shape sorter/building toy.

Brio name

All doors closed

A different side, all doors closed

A look inside at the shape pieces

Underneath the building "blocks"

I bought this at a garage sale shortly after his first birthday and it can enthrall him for quite a bit of time. He opens and shuts the doors, puts the shapes through the sorter at the top. "Builds" on top with those two roof pieces, has me stack the shapes together and then tries to put them in the top (pretty much as you see it there)

The shapes also make noises when you shake them -- they have something inside. There's a "wand" somewhere to make noises on the xylophone part, but its put away and he rarely used it for its intended purposes anyway. he loves to open and shut the doors and put things inside, especially.

but i have no idea what the toy is, other than that it is made by "Brio" (who I thought made only wood stuff? This is plastic) It's a great size for an activity cube because he can hold it in his lap, take it with him, etc. MUCH smaller than the typical activity cubes I see in the store.

This was an idea toy to take to bible studies when I was trying to keep him quiet -- except that the toy itself is not that quiet. When the shape falls through the hole onto the plastic floor, it sounds very loud

Anyways, here's one toy that is not being put away this Christmas because it still gets enough use to justify its space.


Eskimo is dead -- and I'm drowning

I got an Eskimo account back in 1992 and I've been a faithful customer ever since. When I started having problems getting to my eskimo account yesterday (DNS Server not found, etc) I figured that it was just one of their normal problems.

when I still couldn't get there today, I tried calling, and the phone lines are dead. Now, I am mourning 17 years of great service, trying to figure out who all to contact with new email information. Everything. I don't think I lost any data that was worth anything. The big problems were that this was our dial up access to the Internet and all the people who have only this email to contact me with!