Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Elusive Tyco RC Terrain Twister

As of Monday evening, I had all my Christmas shopping done except for one child - my eldest Nathan.

Now, he is NOT a hard kid to buy for....he always has a stack of toy magazine pages - just waiting for you to ask, "What do you want for..." so he can hand them over to you.

In fact, I had already picked out a telescope for him. He has been wanting one for a long time; and since we are going to my brother's cabin for Christmas, I figured it would be totally perfect.

But, my husband didn't agree.

You see, Nathan has been saving for one, and he thinks Nathan will be disappointed to get a different one than the one he is saving for.

He's probably right - well, okay, i KNOW he's right! But, it's so hard not to get my baby (even though he's 9) something that he wants when he's really deserving of it.

So, there I was without a gift for Nathan (we do just one special gift from us instead of a bunch of small junk that's discarded in two hours).

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7 TIPS FOR MAKING PERFECT CHRISTMAS COOKIES:

1. Measure your flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt very accurately.
2. Mix the dry ingredients separately and then combine with the wet to avoid "soda lumps"
3. Don't over mix your dough - over mixing causes them to be tough
4. Use fresh, light-colored, heavy gauge baking sheets. Old, dark sheets can make the bottoms brown too quickly
5. Non-stick cookie sheets make cleaning easier but usually make thicker cookies
6. For rolled dough cookies, make sure you use chilled dough in small portions. This will make crispier cookies.
7. Use a cookie scoop to help make consistent sizes in drop cookies
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So, I decided to ask Nathan that one question he's dying to be asked, "What do you want for Christmas?" I asked.

"I want a remote control car," he started. I cringed. I hate remote control vehicles. They require a lot of room, are not great indoor toys, can only be played by one at a time, and don't really inspire creativity.

"I saw it on T.V.," he continued, "it can go in snow or water or anything."

Now he had my attention. Snow? That would be perfect for our long winters to encourage outdoor play - and even to play with at the cabin over Christmas.

"What's it called," I asked.

"I don't know...." he explained, "I just saw the commercial once. I think it's Tygo RC something or other."

Well, that wasn't a lot of information, but I can pretty much find anything that I want online. It took me about 3 hours, but I finally found that the toy he wanted was Tyco's RC Terrain Twister.

Ahhhh....you may be thinking if you know anything about this season's toys.

Well, I didn't - I had never heard of it - so I started to look for places to buy it.

Did you know that the dog-gone toy is sold out? It's like the present day Tickle-me-Elmo. I mean, I searched everywhere - including Canada, Germany, and France - and it is not to be had.

So, I had to break the news to Nathan. He was sad to hear it was sold out, but he accepted it and went back to playing.

I, on the other hand, was not giving up yet.

First of all, I'm a VERY determined person. Secondly, I am very good at researching. Thirdly, I really don't like to be told that I can't do something. That just usually makes me try harder.
So, I picked up the challenge and ran with it.

And, I got lucky!

I ended up finding one on eBay, won the auction; and it will be here in time for me to wrap and take to the cabin for Christmas. Nathan is just gonna flat out die when he opens it.

However, I have to admit that I did pay more that it sold for in Wal-Mart - about 20% more plus express shipping - but in this case, it will be worth it.

But would you like to see something totally UNBELIEVABLE? Go to eBay today, do a search for "Tyco RC Terrain Twister"...and you will see how they are now going for DOUBLE or TRIPLE what they sold for in Wal-Mart.

AND, I'm also not going to criticize those parents this year for spending double or triple on a toy (like I did when people were going bananas over Tickle-Me-Elmo). Because, a 7-10 year old is capable of earning, appreciating, and deserving something extra special - when they've appreciated and enjoyed things that don't cost a lot of money.

Laura Bankston is author of Internationally selling Cooking with Kids Curriculum: Homeschool Cooking in a Box and the Homeschool Cookbook. She currently home schools her three children, maintains home school support websites, and manages their family-owned service business. For information on her curriculum and free home school support services, please visit http://www.homeschoolcookbook.com

Copyright 2004, Abundant Learning Publications. All Rights Reserved.

Reprint Permission Requirements: Intact bio, Active hyper-link, and notifiication (click here) of article name and reprint location link.


Thursday, December 09, 2004

How to Get Kids to Pick Up Toys

Every night it seemed like I was doing the same thing, "You guys, look at your room. Get your toys picked up right now!"

I didn't understand it. They would have their room picked up, but a few hours later, it would be messy again. Toys all over the floor, blankets on the floor. Toys in the hallway; toys downstairs.

I definitely was getting tired of looking at the mess, tired of stepping on Legos, but it was more than that. I was aggravated that they didn't appreciate what they had!

When I was growing up, we had only a few toys. I took good care of those toys - I still have my Tinker Toys in the original metal can with the included instruction book - and I'm 36!

My parents didn't have to nag me all the time - I don't think - to pick up my toys. I know that I appreciated them because they were so few and far between.

My kids have been less fortunate in that respect - tons of toys from Grandparents and relatives for Christmas.

Toys that move, make noises, and you name it.

They definitely didn't appreciate the abundance of toys that they have.

So, I figured that I'd teach them what it's like to appreciate or not have them!

I let them know that every time I stepped on a toy, or had to pick up pieces of a set, or had to pick up something that was left out, it was going in the trash.

And that's what I did. But it didn't work.

You see, they ended up having ALL their toys in the trash. It was annoying because there wasn't anything left to play with when kids came over.

And it still didn't solve the problem of not appreciating what they had. They didn't miss it - they didn't have to. It was only a short while before the next birthday or holiday brought in a new batch of toys.

So, with my thinking cap on, I came up with my next plan of attack - a sticker and reward chart system.

They were excited, thrilled, and motivated. When they got up in the morning, they'd do all the things on their chart, anxious to have the boxes filled up with stickers.

But, stickers and reward charts only work once a day! When the "my toys are picked up" box has a sticker, the rest of the day went down the tubes.

And, it didn't work to only give stickers at bedtime. They had no motivation to pick up during the day, and it became a nightmare divvying out all the stickers at a bedtime that already dragged out longer than it should!

So, I gave up for awhile. The lecture method didn't work, the "tossing toys" method didn't work, and the reward chart didn't work the way I wanted it too.

My kids were messy and unappreciative, and I needed to do something about it - fast.

My friend Judy Frey didn't have that problem. Her kids got out one toy at a time - even when company was over - and put up that toy before getting out the next. When it was time to leave their house, it was a snap to clean up with just one toy per child.

She had all these little boxes and containers for their toys with little pieces, so I thought that maybe that was the secret.

On my next trip to Walmart, I bought some containers to put the toys; and a big box that held some community toys.

Now, I just had empty containers with toys on the floor.

So, one day, I finally asked, "How do you get your kids to keep their toys picked up?"

"Well, you know," she said, "I used to go crazy with all the toys everywhere that never got put up - hurting my feet from stepping on them...until we started to use the 'Saturday box'."

"What's a Saturday box?" I asked.

"It's just a container that we have, and every time a toy is left out, it goes into the Saturday box. Then they have to wait until Saturday to get their toys back."

"Ohhhh..." I said. A new concept that hadn't occurred to me before!

"And, the great thing about it," Judy continued, "is that they can still see the toys all week. That way they know what they are missing - because we had that 'out-of-sight-out-of-mind' problem."

I just nodded my agreement and understanding - I was totally following her.

So, back to Walmart. :-)

I got each kid a container with three drawers to put in their small toys. I explained to each of them that they could only play with one toy or set at a time. I made it very clear that if anything was left out, it would go into the Saturday box.

Their eyes were wide with amazement.

They knew Mommy was serious.

So, the first day went without incident. Then, on the 2nd, there was the first infraction.

"Maegan," I told her, "you left out a Polly Pockets. It needs to go into the Saturday box."

Now, she is only three years old; but she understood. We put the toy in the Saturday box - a clear plastic container on the kitchen counter.

EVERY day she was asking me if it was "Saturday". Fortunately for her, we had started mid-week so she only had 2 days to wait.

The boys ended up with a few toys in there too.

It's amazing how a simple box called a Saturday box can solve a lot of problems and teach "appreciation" at the same time!

Laura Bankston is author of Internationally selling Cooking with Kids Curriculum: Homeschool Cooking in a Box and the Homeschool Cookbook. She currently home schools her three children, maintains home school support websites, and manages their family-owned service business. For information on her curriculum and free home school support services, please visit http://www.homeschoolcookbook.com

Copyright 2004, Abundant Learning Publications. All Rights Reserved.

Reprint Permission Requirements: Intact bio, Active hyper-link, and notifiication (click here) of article name and reprint location link.


Free Snowflake Coloring Pages

Why Are Snowflakes So Popular right now?

You got me -actually, I was hoping that you know the answer!

Right now, the #1 search on our websites and for people finding our sites in the search engines is looking for snowflake coloring pages.

So, snowflakes are in hot demand right now - maybe you're desiring some snow flakes too. So, here are some links for free snowflake, Christmas, and winter colroing pages:

http://www.homeschoolinglibrary.com/free_kids_coloring_pages.htm#christmas

http://www.homeschoolinglibrary.com/free_kids_coloring_pages_files/pssf5.PDF

http://www.homeschoolinglibrary.com/free_kids_coloring_pages.htm#newyears

http://www.homeschoolinglibrary.com/free_kids_coloring_pages.htm#preschoolwinter

That should keep you busy :-).

Do you have lots of fluffy, fresh, white snow around your house? Well, take some of it (if your pollution levels make this safe!!) and put it in a cup, drizzle some syrup over it and have your own home-made snow cones. This is super fun for the kids and on that popular snowflake theme!

Well, right this very second, I have in my refrigerator, the Snicker's Fudge recipe. I just need to let it chill for an hour, cut it, take one last photo and it will be ready to be uploaded to the Kids Recipe Club membership site. It looks soooooooooo good, I can hardly stand it.

I'm gonna save a few pieces for my family; but this is going over to some friends house when we go over there Sunday night. I'm also going to take a few, put on a colored plastic plate, wrap it with my holiday colored plastic wrap; and give it as a gift to a lonely neighbor.

Her husband got a new job, they are moving to Hawaii, and she is still here selling the house, etc. So, chocolate should help, right? :-)

Hope you're taking advantage of this PERFECT SEASON to cook with your kids! Thanksgiving and Christmas time is the easiest to get started; and if don't get started this time of year....just what are you waiting for???? Your kids to be grown and gone? Things to settle down??? It just ain't gonna happen.Cook with your kids NOW.

You can start right this very second with the exclusive recipes enjoyed by members of the Kids Recipe Club: http://www.kidsrecipeclub.com

Sincerely,
Laura Bankston

P.S. You too can send some cheer to a friend or neighbor - forward this link to the FREE recipe 'Christmas Simmering Scent' - http://www.homeschoolcookbook.com

Laura Bankston is author of Internationally selling Cooking with Kids Curriculum: Homeschool Cooking in a Box and the Homeschool Cookbook. She currently home schools her three children, maintains home school support websites, and manages their family-owned service business. For information on her curriculum and free home school support services, please visit http://www.homeschoolcookbook.com

Copyright 2004, Abundant Learning Publications. All Rights Reserved.

Reprint Permission Requirements: Intact bio, Active hyper-link, and notifiication (click here) of article name and reprint location link.


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Gravy Lesson with Grandmother

It was thirteen years ago this month, but it does seem like yesterday.

It was pre-kids, pre-homeowners, and even pre-Alaska.

We were driving on our way to our new military assignment – Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, AK.

We weren’t even supposed to be in the military anymore!

We had been separated when I was evacuated from Clark Air Base in the Philippines from the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo; and Wade had to stay behind to help close down the base. In fact, he was only going to have 2 months left of his enlistment when he got back to the states – and we had already decided that he would get out.

Or, so I thought.

I got a phone call one day – man, we had huge phone bills during that six months. I wish we had the low rates back then that you can get now.

Anyway, he was all excited. They all had to get new orders or whatever – I forget how the process went – but in any event, Wade was before someone who said, “So, where would you like to go?” with pen and blank orders in hand.

That’s right – no dream list. No waiting to find out where you’d be going.

So, Wade did the unthinkable!! He said, “I’d like to re-enlist and go to Anchorage, AK.”

“Okay,” the guy said; and within 15 minutes, Wade had typed copies of all his orders.

And he was calling me to tell me the great news.

“YOU WHAT?” I’m sure I screamed it so loud that he didn’t need a phone to hear me in the Philippines


So, the day finally arrived when Wade and I were re-united.

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Top New Recipes added for members of the Kids Recipe Club at http://www.kidsrecipeclub.com

1. Chocolate French Silk Pie (with step by step photos)
2. Smiley Tooth Mouth Sandwich (with step by step photos)
3. New Category: Special Diets
4. Sponge Candy
5. Peanut Butter & Chocolate Bars
6. Rocky Road Fudge
7. Snickers Fudge
8. Warm Turkey Spread
9. Snow Cones and Snow Cone Syrup
10. Snow Ice Cream
11. 3 more “gift in a Jar recipes” for a total of 14 easy, heart-felt gifts for friends and neighbors
12. Article: How to Make Perfect Lump Free Gravy

Not a member? Join now and still have opportunity to use these recipes, holiday edible crafts, and gift ideas http://www.kidsrecipeclub.com
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After two weeks of visiting with our families, we were on our way to Anchorage.

We had everything we owned packed in the back of the Suzuki Sidekick I had just bought – except for our Doberman that we were going to fly up when we got a place to live.

And, we decided to drive through Texas and visit my Grandparents.

It was so nice to see them, and it was the first time that they got to meet Wade. Back then, they still had a lot of land with a fishing lake, horses, cattle, and a four wheeler.

I still remember one morning my Grandmother was making biscuits and gravy for us. She did make them soooo good.

And I told her my plight.

“Grandmother,” I explained, “I have tried and tried to make biscuits and gravy; but my gravy never turns out.”

“Oh?” she commented

“It either tastes like flour, or it doesn’t thicken, or it’s lumpy
.”

“Well,” she said, “let me just show you how to do it
”

I did try to watch intently – I thought I had it down. It just looked so easy and so perfect when she did it.

But it wasn’t until several months later that we were even settled in a place that I could even attempt. And by then, I wished I had a video – or at least photos – or just exactly what she had done.

My gravy was awful. But I was too proud to let anyone know! And, I didn’t want my grandmother to know that I still couldn’t do what she considered to be the easiest thing to make!

So, I struggled on my own for years. Learning a trick to solve one problem, taking more time to figure out another.

It may have taken me longer than most – but I doubt that you will ever find someone more determined than I am!!!

But the one thing I did learn from the experience was the value of having photos or something later to use and refer back to – because you never remember as much as you think you do when you just watch someone cook something.

That’s why I make the kids recipes with the step-by-step photos. You can always see exactly what is being done
exactly what it’s supposed to look like. It’s fool proof!

If you’d like to experience the benefit of recipes with step-by-step photos, then you have a few more days left to try one for FREE. Get your FREE Christmas Simmering Scent Recipe right now at http://www.homeschoolcookbook.com

Then, when you experience how easy cooking new recipes can be, you’ll want to take advantage of one of these two options:

1. Get your own hardcopy of the complete Homeschool Cooking With Kids System in a Box at http://www.homeschoolcookbook.com

2. Get your exclusive Kids Recipe Club membership with digital access to the complete cooking system, at least 4 new recipes a month with step-by-step photos, and instant access to the holiday recipe database – http://www.kidsrecipeclub.com

Imagine the fun your kids will have making Christmas recipes – and making them on their own. Reading their own directions
giving them confidence and pride in what they can do. Experiencing the joy of sharing with others


It will be a holiday of building memories and bonds that will last a lifetime.

Sincerely,
Laura Bankston

P.S. Get your free Christmas Simmering Scent recipe now at http://www.homeschoolcookbook.com and while you’re there, give the gift of cooking joy with either the Cooking With Kids System in a box or a gift subscription to the online Kids Recipe Club at http://www.kidsrecipeclub.com

P.P.S. When you get your copy of the Homeschool Cooking System or the Kids Recipe Club, type “Gravy” in the “how you heard about us” box and I’ll also send you a FREE copy of the exclusive, out of print, antique book “Eat and Grow Thin” that proves just how long low carb diets have been around successfully. Yours FREE until midnight tonight – while supplies last. http://www.homeschoolcookbook.com or http://www.kidsrecipeclub.com

Laura Bankston is author of Internationally selling Cooking with Kids Curriculum: Homeschool Cooking in a Box and the Homeschool Cookbook. She currently home schools her three children, maintains home school support websites, and manages their family-owned service business. For information on her curriculum and free home school support services, please visit http://www.homeschoolcookbook.com

Copyright 2004, Abundant Learning Publications. All Rights Reserved.

Reprint Permission Requirements: Intact bio, Active hyper-link, and notifiication (click here) of article name and reprint location link.