abc is for A Book and Cookie Party!—books

As I mentioned in The Birthday Party, Champ’s three year old extravaganza was a Book and Cookie Party. Each child (ages 2 to 3.5) brought a cookie recipe and list of his or her three favorite books. I finally have a minute to type the lists and get the links!

32 Favorite Books of Preschoolers | Bewildered Mother

Here are the books, by current Goodreads rating. Our favorites are in bold.


You Choose by Pippa Goodhart (4.52)

The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman (4.43)

You are Special by Max Lucado (4.41)

I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak (4.38)

I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt (4.34)

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (4.32)

Big Book of Things That Go by Deni Bown (4.31)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (4.27)

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (4.25)

Robert the Rose Horse by Joan Heilbroner (4.25)

Bear Wants More by Karma Wilson (4.22)

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans (4.21)

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff (4.21)

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins (4.2)

Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley (4.18)

Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown (4.15)

Pajama Time! by Sandra Boynton (4.14)

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker (4.13)

Moonshot by Brian Floca (4.11)

Clifford The Small Red Puppy by Norman Bridwell (4.1)

Look! Another Book! by Bob Staake (4.1)

10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle (4.03)


Dr. Seuss’s ABC by Dr. Seuss (3.99)

Max Spaniel: Dinosaur Hunt by David Catrow (3.93)

The Berenstain Bears and the Bad Dream by Stan Berenstain, Jan Berenstain (3.91)

Amazing Airplanes by Tony Mitton (3.9)

Go, Train, Go! by Wilbert Awdry (3.87)

I’ve Lost My Hippopotamus by Jack Prelutsky (3.71)

Pirates of the Sea! by Brandon Dorman (3.55)

Oink-a-Doodle-Moo by Jef Czekaj (3.47)


My Big Rescue Book by Roger Priddy

Any Little People book, but especially Busy People 

I’ll have to get back to this with the cookie recipes. There are only so many hours in the day. Check back for part 2!

10 Rules for Buying Gifts for Kids

I decided to make a pinnable image of my 10 rules for buying gifts for my kids, which I detailed in The Birthday Party.

Click the image to pin. You can follow me on Pinterest here.

10 rules for buying gifts for children | bewildered mother blog

Still to come, the cookies and books lists from the birthday party, plus Champ’s 3-yr-old photoshoot. Follow / become a fan / subscribe if you don’t want to miss them :)

Christmas 2012

Behold! The Post-Christmas Post! With over 20 photos!

Make it to the end of this post, and you will be rewarded with some outtakes from the photo above.


Fluffy White Pine purchased from the Boy Scouts.

Captain’s brother spent the holiday with us,

Yay for self-timers!

On the mantle: Thrift Store finds (pine trees, pine cone, itty bitty porcelain houses, candle sticks), candles from our wedding, and a Scentsy warmer with the scent Iced Pine making our house smell like a forest. Stockings: Target, handmade from a sweater, my Santa stocking from when I was little, handmade from fleece and faux fur. Someday I’ll have lovely, matching stockings. The elephant and lion are Scentsy Buddies and are for Champ and Lion.

Some people asked what I was doing for stocking stuffers. I think next year, early December, Lord willing, I’ll blog about stocking stuffers. But my favorite ones I’ve given the Captain and/or his brother are designer playing cards from Theory 11, something fun from ThinkGeek, a bundle of online games from HumbleBundle (they change weekly), and homemade candied pecans. Each cost less than $6.


We opened up the presents on Christmas Eve like good Norwegians. Champ passed out all the gifts with the aid of photos I printed and taped to each present. Christmas morning, Champ opened up his stocking,

which consisted of three cars and the Scentsy elephant, and some extra Santa gifts (pots and pans, a 101 Dalmatians plate he picked out at the thrift store). But his big Santa present was waiting for him in the Kitchen.


We scrambled to get Little Champ’s present—a DIY Kitchen—ready in time for Christmas. It still needs a bit of work, but it is definitely serving its purpose! We’ll just remodel his kitchen the next time we move. The first sighting:


Examining the sink.




He checked out the fridge…


…which was stocked with about 20 fruit and vegetable toys I got for a grand total of $2.


We decided to make cookies. Wash your hands, first! Then mix up the batter.kit7

He was very excited about the cookies.



After he took them out of the oven (“Hot!” he reminded me), he ate ALL OF THEM.kit9

Didn’t even leave some for his own mother.


His mother who was 20.5 weeks pregnant on Christmas. It’s okay. I made Chocolate Revel Bars (stay tuned for the recipe).

We spent the rest of Christmas Day with my extended family. After Christmas, we visited the other side of the family and Champ got to see his first Hockey game.


He was entranced. And the Zamboni hadn’t even come out yet.


I think he enjoyed himself.

That was our Christmas! There are a ton of tutorials on making play kitchens. Ours was thrown together, so we didn’t take photos of the process. The only new things we purchased were the silver handle for the fridge, the drawer pull we used for a towel rack, the sink faucet, the bowl for the sink, and the tiles. I know we paid less than $30, but probably less than $25. I guess it depends on how much the spray paint cost us. My favorite play kitchens are this one from Britt & her Boys, this one from Creative Carissa, and this one from Young House Love.

You made it to the end! As promised, here are just a few of my attempts at capturing a happy, adorable child in front of the Christmas tree.


Happy New Year!

I’ll post the Chocolate Revel Bars recipe soon.


Holiday Crafts

Last month we made Turkeys with our hands and feet.


This month was Christmas ornaments. I’ll start with the photos on the tree, then explain how we made each ornament.




Handprint Reindeer


We used the recipe from Martha Stewart to make the cinnamon dough. I traced Little Champ’s hand onto a piece of paper and used that as a mold, then poked two holes with a chopstick (one to hang, one on the thumb for the antlers) and baked according to the recipe, turning once.

The next day I put on the finishing touches. I got micro bells and micro pompoms from Michaels. I strung the three bells onto a wire, bent around the “neck” and twisted it in the back. Then I glued the bells down, the nose, and the googly eye. I think I used three pipe cleaners for two reindeer—one cut in half made the two smaller sets. I pushed both one long and one short through the hole, folded them in half, upwards, and curled the ends.

Handprint Ornaments


These actually didn’t work out too well. First I squirted paint on the inside of the bulbs and turned them around to get the insides fully coated with paint. That took a while, and then they took a long time to dry (I kept turning them around every few hours). Once I thought they were completely dry, I hung the plastic kinds on the tree, and now the paint has pooled to the bottom, even though I had them drying for a week. We still have them up on the tree—I’m pretending the abstract look was intentional. Same results with plastic and glass ornaments, house paint and acrylic paints. (It also took a few tries to get good-looking hands on the bulbs.)

Button Trees


I’m hoping these are pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll post images below. I got a jar full of green buttons from Walmart for a few dollars. I tried a few different combinations, but I ended up liking the trees that were similar in color best. The transparent tree is my favorite because it looks great against the Christmas lights, but it doesn’t photograph well for that same reason.

I found out that they looked best when I made a single half knot between buttons (not a square not, which is two half knots), and on the four-hole buttons, I thread through the diagonal. I finish with a square not on top of the tree, and then knot the strings at the top to create a loop to hang the tree.

button1 button2 button3 button4 button5 button6

May Day! (Free Printable)

Have you ever left May Baskets on a friend’s doorstep on the First of May?

Usually May Baskets are filled with treats or flowers. You put them on the doorstep, ring the doorbell, and run away. Apparently the tradition is that if the person catches you, you exchange a kiss.

Well this year, I decided to make little goodie bags for all of the houses on our street, all 29 of them. I filled treat bags with candy and inserted a little card that had a Bible verse on the front, and on the back, an invitation for all the neighbors to come to our house the last Saturday of the month so everyone can get to know each other in a casual environment. (We’ll have a bounce house for the kids).

I’m still filling the treat bags, but thought I’d put the printable up for you in case you’d like one for yourself or would like to do something nice for your friends or neighbors this May Day. You could even have a little office May Day :)

Click the image to download. Each sheet has 9 cards.

The Marines Hymn

Well, it’s about time I mentioned why I haven’t blogged in a hundred years. LT is getting out of the active Marine Corps. We are pretty emotionally torn, and you can imagine how much decision-making and confusion has come up in the past couple of weeks. While LT is proud to be a Marine, and I am incredibly proud of him, we are looking forward to starting a new chapter in our lives. We are hoping to continue through the Marine Corps Reserves (I say “we”—it’s all him, but if one member is in the Marine Corps, the whole family is a Marine Corps family).

We have some direction, but our plans will likely not be made permanent or public until July, which is when we will be moving. We appreciate your prayers and support as we go through this transition from military to civilian and try to find jobs and a new home.

This week we went to what might be our last military ball, which chokes me up typing about it, but we had an extraordinary time. I’m trying not to think how much I will miss, but rather look forward to the future. We know that God is in control, and that he will take care of us and bring us something even better, whether we can wrap our minds around that or not.

In honor of our time in the Marine Corps, this week’s patriotic song is “The Marines’ Hymn.”

Wikipedia article

Library of Congress sheet music and Military MP3s

My no-frills recording (I couldn’t seem to get through the 3rd verse, so here’s the first two.)

Though he only served in the Active Marine Corps for a few years, my husband joined the military during wartime, wanting to serve his country and protect the lives of Americans. He went through rigorous mental and physical training to become an officer, and he’s earned every single one of the medals on his uniform. I am so very proud of him, and he will always be my hero, whether he’s a Marine or civilian.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Well, I was hoping that there would be more of a response to my last post (thanks, Mom!)…

But the lack of responses, combined with an unexpected (but very nice) houseguest, has left me to decide that this time, anyway, I won’t be recording a song and giving it away.

When I do give away songs, I’ll be doing it completely legally, either by recording a public domain song, getting permission from the copyright holder, or buying the rights to record (it’s about $25).

And no offense, Momma, but as delightful “Lady in Red” is, I don’t think I’ll be forking up a quarter of a hundred dollars to record a song that repetitively tops cheesiest song lists. If I do an 80s song, I’d probably cover “Time After Time” or “Never Gonna Give You Up,” just for kicks.

Anyway, we can’t make a reader-generated love song playlist with only one song, but never fear!

This is a playlist I created a while ago, and it has both love songs and break up songs. That’s right, music to satisfy those celebrating Single Awareness Day as well. Basically it’s the soundtrack that would play if my life were an indie movie, starting with childhood daydreams, through boyfriends and breakups, to falling in love with LT, having Little Champ, and wondering what’s next for our family.

Love Music on Grooveshark.