Thursday, February 26, 2009

1 Month!!!

Today is our 1 month anniversary and my how we've grown in such a short time!!!

I remember the weeks leading up to the public launch and I kept asking God, "are you sure you want me taking something like this on right now??" and He seemed to continually tell me YES. For those of you who don't know me personally from my other blog, I am pregnant, due with our first daughter in early May. I had horrible pregnancy sickness (Hypermesis) during the first 12 weeks, then my husband battled testicular cancer for several months (he is cancer free now after two surgeries!!), and now I am struggling with much physical pain in my 3rd trimester. I tell you all of that NOT to complain at all but to show you how God has worked this difficult time for our family for HIS glory and good. We are all making it and this blog has been SUCH a source of peace, motivation, and inspiration for me. I wasn't exactly sure why God would want me to undertake something that was so much work at this point in my life and my pregnancy but now I know! I am in so much physical pain most days that all I can do is sit in my computer chair...HE gave me something to keep my mind off of ME during those times! I am SO thankful for this blog, SO thankful for all of the writers and contributors, SO thankful for the community of readers and supporters. I am SO thankful for God putting this idea in my head late one night months ago!

As we enter into our 2nd month online I would love to hear from YOU! Here's a few questions I have for you, and if you have any helpful thoughts leave them in the comments below!
  1. What features would you like to see ADDED? We have a list of features in the works and if you have another idea, leave it in the comments. NO guarantees, but we would love to hear your thoughts! Our current possibilities are: Tots on the POTty (stories of potty training), Tot Ties (bonding with your tots), Once Upon a Book (for kids, featuring a great book and ideas to go along with that book), Adopted Tots (a feature focused entirely on families who have adopted a tot-or a baby that is now a tot), Tot Food (simple, healthy, recipes for your tot).
  2. Since our launch, we have added a couple of new features, Celebrating Your Tots and Terrific Tot Sites, we hope you are enjoying those too!
  3. What are your current favorite features? Are you inspired by a particular feature, please tell us so the writer of that feature can be encouraged! Leave a comment below if you have any other helpful or encouraging thoughts.
  4. Are YOU interested in writing or submitting for the blog? Please click here and if you can answer YES to those questions, please email me! As it says in that post, we aren't necessarily looking for new writers but the door is open for our team to grow. If you have a strength in one of our feature areas or even in one of the possible new feature areas, let me know.

Thank you to all of you who have posted about Totally Tots on your own blog, added our button to your sidebar, become subscribers or followers, and those who read! I am honored and humbled by the way God has brought such a fantastic group of moms together and look forward to what He has in store for this blog and little blog family :).

God Bless!

Terrific Tot Sites ~ File Folder Fun

This is a great new site -File Folder Fun- all focused on File Folder Games...if you're not familiar with this concept, let me explain a bit...

A File Folder game is simply a game/activity all enclosed into a file folder. This makes for easy storage. You print the templates for the activities and then create your own folder for your tot to use! Here's a photo of one of ours which I made for Krash from this site (found on this page of the site)...
In my folder you'll see 3 holes punched, that's because I store ours in a big 3-ring binder. Also I add paper clips to the folder graphics, so he can slide the match in without it falling/sliding out.

The best place to begin on this site is with their folders for pre-school aged children. These would be great for your tots ages 2 and up, if they are able and enjoy working with things like this. Some 2 yr olds will be too young for this, some will be totally into it! As always, make one and try it, see what your tot thinks! If it doesn't go over well, try again several weeks later.

You can also search the site by subject, and can even join their member's forum if you really like it! I am a member there and have loved the neat ideas that are shared! Once in the member's area, you can also see this page which gives links to other neat places on the web to find File Folder resources. And finally, there's also a section that's entirely Bible themed!

Hope you enjoy this Terrific Tot Site! To see more featured sites, click here!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Simply Made ~ Color Matching Cards

This past week I pulled together some Color Matching Cards for my son, Kaleb (age 26 mos) to practice matching his colors, naming/identifying objects.

There are 10 pages/colors shown in this set with 6 cards on each page. One of the cards shows a 'base' color. The base colors are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, brown, black and white. This is the page for red...Print the sheets, cut and then laminate to make them more sturdy.

Have your child find the five cards that match the base color shown. If your child is just learning his colors, use only one or two sets at a time and then add more colors in as he begins to sort colors correctly. You can find the link to the PDF's here on my blog. Hope you enjoy!

Did You Know ~ Eating the Rainbow

Eating the Rainbow

Did you know that you can increase the likelihood that your tot gets all the vitamins and antioxidants s/he needs by planning colorful meals? Fire-engine red, sunshine yellow, emerald green, rich purples- these bright fruit and vegetable colors are not just feasts for your eyes, but treasures of healthy nutrients as well.

In general, the more colorful the food, the more nutritious it is. For example, spinach rates more highly than lettuce, the deep orange of a sweet potato contains more nutrients than an ordinary potato, and pink grapefruit is preferable to an ordinary grapefruit. Each different colored food is typically rich of different vitamins and antioxidants; thus providing your tot with a rainbow of colors ensures that s/he gets the benefits of different vitamins. While it would be nice to try to include as many colors as you can throughout the day, it is more important that your tot gets foods of each color over the course of a week. It may be helpful to put a checklist with all the food colors and days of the week by your refrigerator, so whenever your tot eats a color of the rainbow, you can make a check in the appropriate box. If you notice by the end of the week that your tot came short in a color or two, you can still add them in.

Here are the different colors and their benefits:

GREEN: Asparagus, avocados, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, fava beans, kale, lettuce, peas, spinach, watercress. Green foods are rich in the vitamins A, C, and E, which can protect our bodies’ cells and boost our chances of living a longer, healthier life. Green leafy veggies are also rich in iron. The green color comes from chlorophyll, which is a plant’s way of converting sunlight to energy. Studies have shown that regularly eating broccoli reduces the risk of cancer. It is also a good source of glucosinolates, which have strong anticancer effects by stimulating our bodies’ natural defenses.

RED: Baked beans, cherries, grapes, guava, papaya, plums, raspberries, red bell pepper, red/pink grapefruit, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon. Lycopene is a natural pigment that gives fruits like tomatoes, red grapefruits, and watermelons their red color and is one of the most powerful cancer-fighting carotenoids. It is particularly valuable in helping to protect us from certain cancers such as prostate and cervical cancer. Lycopene further reduces our heart attack risk by up to 50%. Lycopene is not produced by the body and needs to be derived from our diet. Lycopene is easiest for our bodies to absorb when tomatoes have been processed or cooked with a little oil in foods like tomato soup, tomato sauce and ketchup.

ORANGE AND YELLOW: Apricots, cantaloupes, carrots, lemons, mangoes, oranges, passion fruit, peaches, pumpkins, rutabagas, squash, sweet potatoes. Orange and yellow fruits and veggies are high in beta-carotene; the plant form of vitamin A. Beta-carotene protects against cancer and boosts the immune system against colds and flu. Citrus fruit are good sources of vitamin C, which is important for growth, healthy skin, healing wounds, and improving the absorption of iron.

DARK BLUE OR PURPLE: Beets, blackberries, black currants, blueberries, eggplant, grapes, plums, prunes. There is a lot of vitamin C, as well as antioxidants such as bioflavonoid in blue and purple foods, which help to boost immunities against cancer. The skin of grapes also contains a substance that can lower cholesterol and prevent fats in the bloodstream from sticking together. As a result, a daily glass of red wine is now thought to lower cholesterol levels. The pigment anthocyanin, which makes foods blue/purple, has powerful anticancer properties. Blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of any fruit because of the high level of anthocyanin in their skin.

WHITE: Apples, cauliflower, garlic, leeks, mushrooms, onions, potatoes. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Garlic, onions, and leeks contain organosulphides, which seem to stimulate the immune system and fight cancer. Organosulphides are also antioxidants. Garlic is also rich in allicin, which is an antibiotic and is antiviral.

If you would like to read more about this topic, check out the following links:

Fruit and Veggies Matter

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cute Tots

Tots sure are cute, aren't they! Be sure to click on the photos to visit the mom bloggers of these cute tots!

Want to send in a photo of your Cute Tot? Click Here!

Meet Vivienne Grace...


Vivienne Grace is 44 months old with a little sister Lia. She is dedicated - and I mean dedicated - to being a nurse; is always learning about ambulances/ doctor equipment/ ailments/ injuries/ medicine/ etc. and playing "doctor." Vivienne will memorize your poem, sew your loose button, put a band-aid on your finger, and tell you a joke. Then she'll ask you to call her "Laura Ingles Wilder" and gather your chicken eggs for you.

Her (and Mom's) Top Ten Favorite Tot School Tools...

  1. Songs for Saplings CD
  2. Kids Praise CDs
  3. Read-N-Grow Picture Bible
  4. Fisher Price Doctor Kit
  5. Counting Bears
  6. Step2 Stainless Cooking Essentials
  7. LeapFrog Word Whammer
  8. Hullabaloo (Game)
  9. Scrabble Tiles
  10. Extra-large hanging white board and colorful markers
Her Favorite Books...

  1. "Miss Fannie's Hat" - Jan Karon
  2. "Madeline" - Behmelmen
  3. "Tikki Tikki Tembo"
  4. "Oh Say Can You Say What's the Weather Today" - Tish Rabe
  5. "Fancy Nancy"

Her favorite DVDs, TV shows...

  1. Steve Green's "Hide'em in Your Heart Vol. 2 DVD + Cd
  2. Leap Frog - Letter Factory and Leap Frog - Talking Words Factory
  3. Anne of Green Gables
  4. Mary Poppins

Vivienne's Mommy blogs at 10 Million Miles

Do you want your tot to be featured one week? Go here to read more details!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Celebrating YOUR Tot ~ Last call for March Tots!

This is the last call for March Birthday Tots! Does your tot have a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th birthday in March? If so... We need your info by Feb 26, in order to include your tot in our monthly post, which will be up the first week of March!

AND, if you have a April Birthday Tot, we will need your info by Mar 26!

Get Real with God ~ When the Swan Returns

When The Swan Returns
Remember that story of the poor Ugly Duckling? An egg hatches in the wrong place and somehow becomes mistaken for a duck when it’s truly a swan. The teasing and ridicule mark the poor swan who begins to believe that he is nothing more than an ugly duck. Then the Mother Swan shows up and he sees others just like him and he realizes that he belongs to them.

Our culture has made this a lesson in beauty or self esteem with T.V. shows like The Swan. Really, the point of the story was that the “ugly duckling” was never really ugly in the first place and, for that matter, was never really a duck. He was trying to belong to something that he was never part of.

The Mother Swan went away. She was probably seeking out food or a better environment to raise her young. She didn’t abandon the egg, she was leaving it to supply something it needed. In the Mother Swan’s absence, all kinds of discouragement and lies crept into the “duck’s” thinking.

Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us. He left us here, but not forever. He will return (Read John 14:2-3). In the meantime, many of us are getting discouraged. We are identifying ourselves as earthlings and we don’t seem to fit. We never will because we are truly citizens of Heaven.

Apply this to your parenting. Sometimes we Moms feel enormous guilt when we leave our babies home whether it’s to go to a job, purchase groceries, or enjoy a date with their Daddy. The Swan left her baby, God left His children, but not forever. When we leave we should have the intent to improve our children through our absence either through financial gain, food to prepare, or a more loving parent relationship. If we leave and bring nothing in return, then their identity crumbles and their value sinks. Return with reminders that build their security and meet their needs.

If you’ve ever thought about Christ’s return and gotten an uneasy anxious feeling then you know what it is to be a child left home. You know they love you, but you also worry. So reassure your children that when you leave, it’s to better them. Let them see that there is something to gain when you leave. Come back with refreshed love, and a burning need to hold your children. I believe Christ will return that way.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bible Bites ~ LOVE Week 4

Love (Week 4)

The greatest thing we can do for our tots is to encourage them to love Jesus themselves. Bread: Read Luke 10: 38-42, with your tot.

Bite: Explain or act out the difference between Martha's good choice (getting things ready) and Mary's better choice (sitting at Jesus' feet and listening to His teaching). Each person must enjoy his own relationship with Jesus; this is the best thing we can do!

Believing: This week, foster your tot's love-relationship with Jesus. Let your tot witness you enjoying Jesus, reading His word, praying, singing to Him...

Then, schedule about 10 minutes each day for your tot to sit quietly in a comfortable place and talk with Jesus. Pray that the Holy Spirit will meet your tot in the moments when she is alone; that the Holy Spirit will awaken a vibrant and personal relationship with your tot when he is in bed at night, when he plays in the woods, and when he works on a craft. This is true love.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Simply Made ~ Paper Clip Colors

  • different colored paper clips
  • laminated construction paper rectangles to match the paper clips

To Make:

  • cut out and laminate the construction paper rectangles (mine are small like 2 inch by 5 inch) If you need a small home laminator, this one is great!
  • count out 5 colored paper clips for each rectangle place all in a snack sized baggie
To Play:
  • place the colored rectangles in front of your LO
  • now place the colored paper clips in front of them too
  • have them sort them into colored piles
  • now have the pick a rectangle and match the paper clips to it
  • have them slide the paper clips on till all are on. now they can move on to the next color

This is a great game for restaurants, mass, church, doctors office or anyplace you need them to be busy but not loud at the same time! They love it and it helps pass the time for them. My LO is currently 35 mos.

This Simply Made post was written by Shannon, you can visit her blog, Teaching Tinytots. Thanks Shannon for sharing your great idea!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Terrific Tot Sites ~ Starfall

I can't say enough about how much my tot, Krash (age 33 mos) LOVES Starfall! It is a wonderful FREE resource for parents. I also used the site with my oldest son (who is now almost 7), and he loved it too.

The best area for tots, is here...
The simple Alphabet section. You hold your tot close on your lap and cuddle while you watch a short presentation of each letter. Krash has his favorites, like the dancing ladybugs under L, or the girl who eats the jellybeans under J! He specifically asks for them! Here's Krash enjoying the dancing locks on the L page...
Playing this way with your tot is great since it gives them exposure to identifying letters in a fun way, plus they have to be close to you, which most tots love! It is also a good introduction to the computer as your tot watches you move the mouse and click around. Older tots will be able to possibly do this on their own!

If you are new to the site, you might want to read this, which is their explanation of how to use the site as a parent. it is very helpful.

Any aged tot could enjoy this site, IF your tot is interested. Some tots just won't like it-that's OK. Try it, and if there's no interest, wait awhile and then just try again. My oldest did not like it nearly as much as Krash does. Krash literally begs me to do letters each time he sees me on the computer. I think he would sit with me for hours if I'd let him!

We hope you enjoy this Terrific Tot Site! Stay tuned for more featured sites!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Simply Made ~ Matching Fun!

In my effort to create something for my son Krash (age 33 mos) to work on his matching skills, I knew I had to think of something that would really draw his interest. He has a short attention span and will often tell me NO, unless *it* draws him in!

He loves to look at photos of family members, friends, and especially himself, so I made him simple matching boards out of photos I had! I chose a theme, like Snow Fun below...Then, I created the board in Microsoft Publisher (you could use any photo program you have though). I printed out 2 copies of the board, both on white card stock. I put one copy into a sheet protector, and cut up the other copy. I put the pieces in an envelope with the name and paper clipped it to the board, I will be storing these in a 3 ring binder for easy access.

The other day I gave him our Snow Fun board for the first time, and he began to tell me NO, until he saw the photos! Then we began talking together and finding the matching photos! It was really fun.I have a few more photo sets ready for him and plan to change them out often to keep him interested, plus these will be neat keepsakes for him eventually in his notebook!

I did make a few general boards, to use within certain themes, here are a few of the ones I have made so far... This set also has a "Babies on the Farm" board (I did not take these photos, I only wish we lived that close to a farm!)...
This is part of my Spring/Easter set, just photos of bugs and flowers I have taken...

If you would like to download copies of these boards, you can find links to them at our Totally Tots download page! If you make your own photo boards and post about them, leave me a link in the comments, I would love to see yours! I also hope to add to the pre-made boards, if I do, you will find those here on my Tot Trays page (you'll have to scroll down until you see the heading: "Matching.")