Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Preschooler Has Left the Building

She is five, Thank God Almighty, she is five!  The one thing that has never changed about Cecily is her desire to be older than she is. I think five is going to be the year that she settles into just being her age.  For years she has been pushing ahead and pushing the boundaries and my patience along the way.  Then over the past few months, it has stopped.  She has settled into her self as if to say I have arrived and am finally where have always wanted to be.  As she told me the other day, five and seven are her favorite numbers so she expects this to be a good age.

This is my letter to her on her 5th birthday.

Dear Cecily,

Do you know what I have always hated most in life?  It is being bored.  I thrive on a challenge and my mind craves to always be figuring and thinking.  The past five years you have helped to keep me not bored.  You have given me challenges that I had never imagined to encounter in parenting, but that is the joy of parenting.  It is never what you expected it to be.  If I had to think of five words quickly to describe you they would be sharp, energetic, creative, loving, and fun.

This past year, you have started to move beyond princesses and are now showing a real interest in sports and super heroes. You have just begun to play soccer and I have never seen you get dressed and out the door more eagerly than to head off to soccer.  There is a lot of energy in you so running and playing as much as possible keeps you happy.  You do still have a love of TV and Backyardigans and The Fresh Beat Band have been your most recent favorites.  This past winter, we went to a Fresh Beat Band concert and it was certainly an amazing experience watching you dance and sing along with each song.  You are not shy, so running into the aisle and pushing towards the stage came quickly and easily.

I would love to announce your love of learning, because me being a teacher there is not much that thrills me more than teaching both my kids. Learning is tolerable to you. You have learned a lot and will sit for a long time doing homework, but you really are not interested in learning to read just yet.   For now you can read some sight words, count by 2's, 5's, 10's, add single digit numbers, and write several words including your first and last name.  You enjoy listening to stories and have had a great time taking many books out of the library this year.

Things that can keep you busy for hours painting,playing with your dollhouse and  play doh, singing, tumbling, swinging, and dancing.  You have enjoyed attending preschool this year and staying for lunch a few days a week was a welcome addition to your schedule. You are socially driven and love spending time with friends.  In quiet times your loving side shows in the ways you always make sure to give attention and love to everyone in the family.  Your kindness and compassion shines through in your care of animals especially dogs.

In the future you have declared that you will be a dog trainer, artist, and nail technician.  If you ask me I am thinking CEO, but hey I am just your mom.  We can't wait to see the amazing things you will do in this life.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Plus Interactive Math Review

Through US Family guide, I was given the chance to try out A Plus Interactive Math for free at home with my children.  This is extremely appealing to me as I am constantly looking for new or different ways to enrich my children's learning at home.  This program is designed for school aged children, so even though Cecily is a little ahead in Math most of the 1st grade programing was too tricky for her to accurately participate.


It was perfect for Cole who is a solid Math student and in 2nd grade.  The way that the program works is that you begin by taking a series of subtests. Examples  are geometry, measurement, and Algebra.  To be honest, we have not gotten past the subtests yet and Cole has scored well enough that he has not yet needed an intervention. 

Once there is an area of need, the program provides intervention based upon the area in which your child needs help.  This is very extensive and highly thought out program with many checks and balances.  You can view the scope and sequence for each grade level.  This allows you as a parent to know where you child should be.  I find that very helpful, because even though I have a teaching background I am not always aware of what grade level should be working on what concept.

Who is A Plus Interactive Math designed for?  I feel this program is ideal for homeschooling families, children that need enrichment or interventions, as well as schools and tutors.  Children are more engaged and interested often times when using techonology rather than paper and pencil.  Personally, I will be using this program with my son to work on keeping his skills fresh during the summer.  Since everything is already planned it means less work for me while at the same time I know he is following the correct scope and sequence needed for the next school year. 
You can try one month free or order three months for $29.99. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Mud Season.. Dial Kids to the Rescue Giveaway

We are blessed with four seasons in Northeastern Pennsylvania Summer, Autumn, Everlasting Winter, and the Mud season.  Spring comes bouncing in after a long winter full of completely frozen ground and mounds of snow!  Once that all melts and Spring emerges, it is a muddy mess.  We are all just so thankful to have temperatures rise about 30 degrees that it is out the door and hours in the fresh air.  With that comes a huge mess.
This past weekend we hit almost 80 degrees!  Since our house needed a complete drainage system around it, most of our grass is now solid mud. The kids were in and out all day playing int he stream, on the swings, digging, and romping in the woods.  At one point I went up to find this in the bathroom....

Dial Kids to the rescue! Even though the sink and area around it looked like a complete mess the kids both had sparkling clean hands.  Dial has a new product called Dial Foaming Hand Wash that we have been testing to the max!  When I asked Cecily why she choose using that over our other hand soaps, she said that it comes out very easily for her and makes a good amount of suds.  I like it because it is gentle and fresh smelling, plus has an attractive container.  We also tried out Dial Baby body and hair wash.  This is a very mild wash that is unscented.  I felt good about the kids trying it because it was okay if they decided to use a very generous amount, as they often do.

Purex Insiders provided me with these products to try for an honest review and that is what is above.  Now it is your turn to try them out.  Two winners will win a coupon to try one of either the Dial Kids Foaming Hand Wash or the Dial Baby Hair and Body Wash.  Good luck and happy mud season!

Crumbs in the Couch Dial Kids and Baby

Pottery Barn Kids -20% off Beach Towels/Free Shipping

Hop on over to Pottery Barn Kids where beach towels are on sale for 20% off plus free shipping.
My children have spring and early summer birthdays so I am forever requesting beach towels as gifts!

The regular beach towels are now on sale for $20 shipped.
I love to gift something like this from a store that you maybe wouldn't always splurge by shopping there.  The hooded towels make great 1st or 2nd birthday gifts.  Cecily got two four years ago and they are going strong!

Hooded towels are $23 shipped.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Free or Cheap Summer Fun

Many businesses across the country offer great summer programs for children.  Here are a few great options that may be available in your area. 

Kids Skate Free
They offer three convenient locations in South Jersey including Mount Laurel, Deptford, and Cherry Hill.

Kids Bowl Free

This is a great program where kids get two free games daily.  They also have a family special that is a great deal for repeat visitors.  This program offers many locations throughout the country so the likelihood of finding one near you is very good. 

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading
We always jump right out of the gate on this one and earn that free book early.  I love that it is a simple way to earn a new book and get kids interested in reading.  After you record 8 books in your journal, they allow the child to redeem  a free book from a nice selection within the store. Also enjoy the summer story time options through Barnes and Noble.

Book Adventure
This is a new one for us, my friend Niki shared it earlier and I think it is a great thing to check out.  Through this site, students can enter the names of books they have read and then take quizzes about them to earn prizes.  Worth a try!

Keystone Active Zone 

Northeastern Pennsylvania readers should sign up for this great family program that encourages exploration of the outdoors.  Go to various outdoor locations and solve the clues.  Enter your answers into the site to earn credit for your visits.  The more places you go, the more prizes that can be earned!

$1 Family Movies
 Most national theater chains including Regal and RC offer free or $1 movies for children.  Get there early as they can fill up quickly.  It is a great way to expose smaller children to watching something in the theater as there is little financial risk involved.

Library Reading Programs

Our library runs a great summer reading program that not only rewards the children for reading, but also runs a series of workshops and guest speakers.  Last year we enjoyed a class on Science experiments and another focusing on instruments.  Thanks to the library program, my children ate many free servings of frozen yogurt, water ice, and soft pretzels all while continuing to keep on top of reading books.

Vacation Bible School
I have known a few families to VBS hop.  Usually churches open their door for free and provide amazing and engaging Christian education programs for children.  Our favorite last year had a spy theme and included dinner each night for the kids.  If they offer this for free, I encourage you to give a donation towards the program or offer a helping hand.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Hello Kindness, Hello Guidance, Hello Support... Hello Fresh Giveaway

Mother's Day is coming up in a few weeks. While I do not go crazy with fanfare and celebration over the holiday itself it is worth noting who it was designed for, mothers. I believe Mother's Day is a celebration of the special women in our lives and that does not mean just our actual mothers but other influential women as well such a teachers, aunts, grandmothers, friends, neighbors and sisters.  To recognize those women Hello Fresh is giving away a gift card to one Crumbs in the Couch reader.  That winner may choose then to keep their week of free meals or gift it to a special mother figure in their life.

We have been subscribing to Hello Fresh for three months now.  You may have read my original post about all the reasons we love it for our family.   I added a little more love for Hello Fresh with each week we used them.  I did my first giveaway in February and am thrilled to be at it again.  If you haven't heard of Hello Fresh before then let me take a bit of time to explain the concept.  Chefs create amazing recipes that are balanced, varied, unique yet easy for a novice cook to prepare.  The recipes accompany the exact ingredients that you will need to create the meal for two or four people.  The ingredients are packaged and delivered free to your doorstep.  The boxes contain three different meals and you can choose between meat or vegetarian.

I have had many people ask me questions about why Hello Fresh would be worth the cost.   I myself bought that first box at a discounted rate and thought I would immediately cancel.  The cost is worth it for many reasons but the two that come first to my mind are quality and health.  The quality of the food that is delivered is top of the line.  I live in an area where to get the best produce, I need to travel 15 minutes to a higher end grocery store.  That for me is not a problem, but what I have found is that their produce just doesn't compare to what I am getting through Hello Fresh.  I did a shopping trip to recreate some of our favorite meals and found that I did not have any savings and the Bok Choy that I ended up bringing home had perhaps a day left in it.  My Hello Fresh produce can easily sit for a few days before I use it.  Secondly, it has improved our health.  The meals are balanced and when left to our own cooking well things just don't always go that well.  We have learned to enjoy new foods that I would have not imagined would become favorites.  We now purchase brussel sprouts in bulk.


I have had my mom visit for two of our Hello Fresh meals and she agrees that the quality and taste is excellent.  Our last meal was a very simple encrusted chicken, but the taste was superior to anything I have ever tried to make on  my own.  You can win the giveaway even if you are already a member of Hello Fresh, so sign up to try a delicious week using my code 8UAUKY for $40 off.  Try it and if you like it order again!

For Mother's Day week there is an amazing selection available.  We are fortunate enough to get a sneak peek at the offerings. With all this variety I am sure you will find something to love!
  1. Apricot Chicken
  2. Meatloaf, Gravy, Baby Carrots, Turnips
  3. Spanish Cod with Sauteed Kale
  4. Braised Pork Sandwich
  5. Eggplant Caprese with Toasted Fregula Sarda
  6. Wild Mushroom Ramen
  7. Pea and Avocado Toast with Mache Salad 
Hello Fresh Gift Card for One Week of Meals

Thursday, April 16, 2015

I Wish You Wuz My Mom

My first student teaching assignment was in an urban school district in Pennsylvania.  I had been volunteering in an evening program for families learning English as well as a homeless shelter in this city for the two years prior.  These two opportunities had been very fulfilling to me and so I had a great desire to continue working in an urban area where the majority of the families were living in poverty.
I was assigned to teach second grade which thrilled me and I was very eager to begin.  That eagerness unfortunately did not last long.  The teacher I was supposed to be paired with had been promoted to principal and so as an after thought I had been placed with another second grade teacher.  The woman was a very unhappy person who had no business teaching.  Luckily for me the placement was only 10 weeks but the poor students had to deal with her all year.  Her teaching skills and classroom management matched her mood.  Each dreaded day I put on my smile and went in.

The students as a whole were well behaved and really wanted to learn.  One day while giving a spelling test, there was a bit of confusion.  I am not sure if a student peeked at a classmate's test or perhaps had a word written on his hand.  This sent the teacher off into an anger fused flurry.  She promptly grabbed the front of the boy's desk and screamed in the fiercest voice "You are a liar and a cheat!" I can still hear the words echoing in my head seventeen years later. Screaming these words over and over with increased intensity ,she took his desk and physically pushed it with him sitting behind to the back of the room.  Moments later it was as if it never happened at least for her, but never for the boy or me. 

I continued going in every day and putting on my happy face at least for the children's sake.  I had no respect for the teacher as a professional or a human.  I became sick towards the end of my time and was diagnosed with mono.  I took three days off to recover and when I returned barely healthy enough to stand, she felt it would be a good idea for me to do all the picking up and dropping off from their specials sometimes three flights up and down the stairs.  Somehow with the make up of those three days over my spring break, I made it through.  I hadn't pissed her off enough to write me a terrible recommendation. It was all a great relief and I could not wait for my next placement.

When I left, I felt horribly for the students, many of the who came from broken homes or lived in gang territory.  This was their safe place and even though the bullet holes in the school window dictated otherwise, school could be a constant in the world of chaos for many young people.   The children so full of life and love and all that second grade goodness made me tons of cards.  As we stood outside the school on my last day saying good byes, one very quiet little boy handed me a small piece of paper all crumpled up.  As he walked across the cement lot next to the school, I opened it up to read Dear Miss Wetzel I love you.  I wish you wuz my mom.  Seventeen years later I can still remember the emotional significance of opening that note and looking across the street at the back of this little boy's head heading home to a life probably so different than mine.  I knew I would never know what happened to him, but he would always have a place in my heart because at that moment at the age of 21, I wish I wuz his mom too.