Monday, May 31, 2010

Strider Balance Bike Review

Lucy and Julia can both ride a bike! (Scroll down to the next post for video clips.)

We're had a Strider Prebike for just over a month now and you can see from the videos that Lucy is doing very well with it. I initially thought that Julia would enjoy the bike most, as she is a bit more outgoing and Lucy is my cautious one. Both girls were very hesitant on the bike at first and wanted Daddy to hold on to the bike while they "rode"... or rather, "very slowly walked". After showing them video clips of kids riding their Strider bikes, Lucy was determined to learn. Without saying anything, she just kept picking up the bike to practice, slowly getting faster and learning balance. Julia also enjoys riding now and can pick up her feet and glide for a short time.

I had seen balance bikes popping up on the internet and in stores and was interested in trying one out. My girls aren't super sporty, but this looked like a great way to teach them balance and confidence. I read reviews and did some research looking for the best balance bike for our needs. Strider was my top pick for several reasons:

- lightweight. Its only 6.9 lbs. Lucy and Julia can both pick up the bike, carry it, and easily maneuver it while riding.

- small. The seat height is one of the smallest available on a balance bike, but still offers a good range of adjustability. The optional seat clamp quick release allows us to quickly adjust the seat height for our two riders.

- sturdy. I read reports of some of the wooden balance bikes falling apart or warping. The Strider is very sturdy and well made. Various replacement parts can be purchased from Strider if you were to need them.

Our Strider was easy to assemble, even for bike novices like ourselves, and the girls were excited to try it out. The first couple of times they were on the bike, I thought it was going to take them forever to learn. It did take weeks of practice, but now they are soo cute and love to glide on their bike. Lucy can even ride it through our bumpy yard with no problem. She rides down to my car parked at the end of the driveway, stops just in time and whips the bike around to come back up the driveway. She likes to ride the Strider when we go on a walk around the neighborhood and manages just fine the whole way.

I love our little Strider bike and love to see the confidence and enjoyment its given the girls, especially Lucy. We've been talking about getting her a bike with training wheels for her birthday this summer, but I'm so glad she's been able to learn on the Strider first. The other day as we were walking Ross even commented "This is just such a better way to learn to ride a bike!" Check out the Strider website for more information and fun video clips of children riding their bikes. And of course check out my cuties in the post below!

Disclaimer: We received a bike from Strider to review, no other compensation was received. All opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

Would you like to win one?

Check out the Strider website and tell me what color you'd choose if you win.  This is open to US residents only and will close on July 1st at midnight.  Be sure to include your email address in your comment or blogger profile so that I can contact you.  For extra entries you can do any of the following, leaving a comment for each one -

- follow my blog
- subscribe by email to my blog
- watch the videos in the post below this (come back here and tell me you watched them to get your extra entry)
- blog about this giveaway linking back here and to Strider (leave me the link in your comment)
- become a fan of One Little Word She Knew on Facebook

This makes a total of 6 possible entries.  Good luck!

Please be sure to leave separate comments for each entry, and a way for me to contact you!!  Thanks!
Giveaway is closed.  Congrats FancygrlNancy!

Strider Balance Bike Videos

Look At Her Go! from Christy Vande Waa on Vimeo.

This is my first time posting videos to this blog, please let me know if you have trouble viewing them for some reason. Thanks!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thank You, Stuart J. Murphy!

My girls absolutely love books. They read books all the time, they quote phrases from books, they pretend to visit the library with their baby dolls. They speak in book form saying things like: "Lets go, yelled the fairy." and "Stop, she said." while playing. We read books before bed. Lucy reads books to Julia, and books to Esther, and Julia reads books to Esther. We read books out loud together and look through library books for school. We have a million and one books and are probably going to buy another bookshelf this weekend just so we have room for them all.

I was so excited when I saw that My Father's World First Grade includes a huge list of books that reinforce math concepts. The list in the back of the teacher's manual is very extensive. For each concept (patterns, addition, etc) there is a list of books. We'll be checking these out from the library as we go through the curriculum, but I'm also going to purchase a few. (Using my Swagbucks for Amazon gift cards!) Browsing the list, I noticed that they include a large number of Stuart J Murphy's MathStart books.

MathStart books are fun fiction stories that include math concepts. Each book even has two pages of activity ideas you can do with your children to further the concepts. The stories are engaging and fun, so much more than your average counting book. With 21 books each in three different learning levels, there is something for everyone. The books have even been turned into a musical.

I contacted Stuart J Murphy about doing a review of his books and he was kind enough to send us some. Lucy, Julia, and Esther received two signed books each! They were so excited to open their packages and we read several of the books right away. You can read summaries of each book here, as well as see some of the activity ideas included in the books.

Just Enough Carrots has been read at bedtime several nights in a row now. I overheard Lucy and Julia explaining to Daddy that the bunny wanted more carrots but his mommy was buying worms and peanuts too. After reading The Greatest Gymnast of All only once, Julia was saying "zipping zooming Zoe" at the dinner table. Lucy likes Lets Fly A Kite and has read it many times over already. Henry the Fourth is adorable and clearly presents the topic of ordinal numbers. Missing Mittens has a fun twist at the end that makes the girls giggle. Same Old Horse is probably my favorite, I think it does a great job of discussing making predictions.

Each book is clearly labeled with the level and math topic. These will be great to read throughout the year to reinforce math concepts that we are learning. You can find many of these books on Amazon as a part of the 4-for-3 promotion. For more information about MathStart books, check out their website or sign up to receive email updates. Thank you Stuart J. Murphy!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Moom Organic Hair Removal

[insert photo here]

Sorry, this post is not going to contain pictures of my hairy legs. I tried taking one and it didn't turn out so I'll spare you. ;) In the past I've tried all kinds of things to remove unwanted hairs - shaving (of course), waxing (ouch, and yucky chemicals), an epilator (serious. torture. device.), shave minimizing lotion (more chemicals), and hair removal cream (awful stuff). Now that I'm a crunchy granola hippy mom I figured I would have to shave the old fashioned way with a bar of soap since even shaving cream has toxins in it.

Actually, I've been using my body wash as shaving gel and it works great. I used to have insanely itchy legs every time I got out of the shower after shaving but its so much better since switching from shaving cream to body wash. (Tom's of Maine) I was quite surprised.

I was even more surprised to come across Moom Organic Hair Removal Kits. The ingredients are totally natural, organic, and harmless: sugar, water, chamomile, lemon juice, and lavender! Since I hate shaving I decided to give this a try. Moom sent me a kit to try and one to give away. Could this work as well as waxing? With no toxic ingredients?

I had a few minutes to try this while Esther was sleeping in her swing. I had two helpers: "Mom, what are you doing?" "I wish I could do that when I get bigger." Ok, it kind of hurts though. "Oh, you'll probably have to take care of me then." Ok, Julia.

Despite the interruptions, it was easy enough to do. Heat the jar - yes I used the microwave, I couldn't spare any precious moments waiting for water to heat up. Spread the sugar solution on and use the provided cloth strips to quickly remove the sugar and unwanted hairs. I am not a pro yet so I did have to shave afterwards too, but the kit worked wonderfully. The sugar solution comes off easily with warm water, much easier then trying to rub off sticky leftover wax.

I used about half the jar, but wasn't completely thorough, so maybe someone else would use a whole jar? Most importantly, my skin is nice and soft and didn't flare up after using this. I put a generous amount of coconut oil on when I was done and let it soak in. Nice soft summer-shorts-ready legs! I'll definitey be using this again.

Want to give it a try? Leave a comment on this post and let me know one shaving product you've tried that you're ready to ditch. Be sure to leave your email address or have it enabled on your blogger profile. If you follow my blog/ and or are email subscribed, you get extra entries, just leave comments letting me know. (For a total of two possible extra entries.) I'll close this on June 9th at midnight. Thanks for stopping by, be sure to check back soon for more fun summer reviews and giveaways.

*Giveaway now closed.  Congrats Bethany!*

Monday, May 24, 2010

Homeschool First Grade

After much debating, researching, hemming, and hawing... ;) here is what we've decided to use for the next school year. I like to plan way ahead of time so that I have the summer to look over the books, find extra related things at sales, and just feel prepared overall.

My Father's World First Grade - Lucy is doing great with My Father's World Kindergarten right now. We are on Unit 17 of 26 because of our big break when Esther was born, but she's moving along quickly. I expect to finish sometime this summer and have a short break before starting First Grade in the fall. There is a lot that I like about My Father's World, and a few things that I wish were different. After considering other options I think we'll stay with it for now. I do think the K program is light, we've basically been using it as preschool.

I like the multi-sensory approach (drawing letters in sand, using the textured letter puzzle, etc). The amount of worksheets has been great, and we've enjoyed the topics this year. One of the things that I think could be added just involves some of the prep. For example, it will say to draw a kangaroo for a craft project, make a penguin from colored paper, or color a map of the world, and then not give me the worksheets for that. Otherwise it is pretty "open and go" except for some of these projects. I do find that we have needed to add some things to the curriculum, and I've tried to carefully choose what I add so that I'm not overwhelming myself with things to do.

My Father's World is our core curriculum and we do try to complete it fully. I wouldn't want to skip anything like reading out loud daily, fun math games, science literature, etc in favor of completing another "program". With that in mind though, I have chosen a few things that I think will enrich our year.

My Father's World Deluxe Package for First Grade - We've enjoyed the deluxe items for the Kindergarten year. This time I am changing it just a bit. I have Honey For A Child's Heart already and will purchase the math workbook and music selections. I debated about the pattern blocks and book but we already have Mighty Mind and I think we'll just use that instead. I am going to be doing something else for art.

Artistic Pursuits - I've been searching for a good art program because Lucy seems to excel in this area. I've not used this yet, but it looks great! The book and needed art supplies are somewhat expensive, but at least the book can be reused with other children. I liked this curriculum so much that I bought the preschool book to use now and through the summer and then we'll start book 1 in the fall.

Activity Bags - I have done two swaps for preschool activity bags in the past. I am running a swap right now (locally) with their Science Book 1. When we are all done we will each have 19 science experiments in a bag ready to be used. The science topics seemed to go well with MFW 1st. I'm also planning to run a swap creating Reading Games and Math Games in a bag. All of the prep work for these will be done this summer so that in the fall I will have reading, math, and science games and experiments ready to use.

Friendly Farm Counters - This is a fun set that I picked up. There are farm animals in six shapes, six colors, and two sizes. We will use these all year long for adding, subtracting, and much more. These math trays look like fun too:

I'm actually excited to show Lucy the Venn diagram because I think she'll get it and it will be a fun mental challenge for her. I'd love to buy these, but they're a bit pricey so we'll see. I may just draw the charts on paper and laminate them.

I recently purchased Phonics Pathways on the recommendation of a couple of friends. We are using this now for extra practice and will slowly work our way through it. I'm not sure how many of the extra games we'll do, but reading the book itself is good practice.

I saw this science kit reviewed on a blog and loved it! It may end up being a birthday gift this summer. I think the girls would have fun playing with this and it could be used for school too.

Another birthday idea? We love DK books and this looks like a good reference book to have.

I still need to pick out a good Bible reference book with photos of artifacts and Bible times to go along with MFW 1st grade's focus on Bible stories.

I also want to purchase some of the math literature books listed in the teacher's manual. They include a huge list of children's literature books that specifically teach or deal with math concepts. These can be checked out from the library, but I would like to own some of them.

What about you? Any fun resources you've found for this age? Are you planning for the fall yet?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Safe Sunscreen

Its already time to start thinking about sun protection! Even though it can still be chilly here, a few hours in the bright afternoon sun will cause damage to my fair skinned girls. I am extremely picky about the skin products we use - there is absolutely no reason to expose my kids to chemicals and unsafe products. Sunscreen is used so often in the summer and covers large areas of kids' bodies - its important to use something safe.

Badger Sunscreen has a zero rating in the cosmetics database, the best rating available. They use zinc oxide, a mineral considered the safest and most protective sunscreen ingredient. Badger Sunscreen is a "physical barrier" sunscreen rather than a "chemical" sunscreen. You can read more about their sunscreen here. The fact that they take the time to explain so much about their sunscreen, its ingredients, and how its made is impressive in itself.

We've been using Badger Sunscreen for two summers now and just received a tube of their new unscented formula for review. They just took out the essential oils that gave it fragrance. I didn't mind the other formula, but this one is perfect. It has just the lightest scent from the ingredients. The sunscreen goes on thick and creamy white, but rubs in nicely.

Here is a picture of Julia with sunscreen on one arm and not the other. She has sunscreen on her right arm - the glare in the photo makes it look a bit brighter, but in person I couldn't tell.

A fun fact about Badger - they are a green company and they even serve an organic local free lunch to their employees every day! The plastic tubes are phthalate free. Most of the ingredients they use are organic. Sounds good to me.

For more information on safe sunscreen check out the EWG Report on Sunscreen.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Trying Rockin' Green

So far we've been using Purex Free and Clear laundry detergent on our cloth diapers. I haven't had any problems, but wanted something more natural. I mistakenly thought that since Purex didn't have enzymes, softeners, scents, or dyes (according to this chart) that it was safe. Here are the ingredients of Purex: Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, C12-16 Pareth-7, Sodium Carbonate, Sodium Dodecylbenzenesulfonate, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Polyacrylate, C.I. Fluorescent Brightening Agent 28, Tetrasodium Edta, Methylisothiazolinone. I'm not even sure what some of those are. A quick search on the Cosmetics Database shows these ingredients linked to neurotoxicity, skin irritation, and more. The words "known immune system toxicant" should not be used in reference to my laundry soap!

I've heard good things about Rockin Green Laundy Soap and decided to try it out. Now, some of their ingredients aren't completely favorable on the Cosmetics Database either. Rockin' Green's ingredient list is shorter and although I'm not a chemicals expert, it does seem like a better choice. (sodium carbonate, sodium percarbonate, natural chelating agents, sodium sulfate, biodegradable surfactants, natural fragrance oils (if scented is chosen)) Many other natural detergents aren't safe for cloth diapers because they are too soapy. I've looked at homemade detergent recipes, but they often contain Borax, which I'm a bit leery of. For now we are going with this.

I received two sample packets to try. My diapers were completely stink free after a good soak in Rockin' Green. You can see in the photo that the rinse water is pretty clear as well. I usually do a rinse, hot wash/ cold rinse with Purex, and then another hot wash/ cold rinse with no detergent. With Rockin' Green I'm doing an initial rinse, hot wash/ cold rinse with the laundry soap, and then another rinse. (eliminating the second hot wash) With Purex the diapers would have a lingering stink at times, and I think the Rockin' Green soak was great for stripping any leftover smell. I've only used this a couple of times but I did just order some more. I'm not sure yet if we'll use this on all of our laundry or if that would cost too much. There are some natural laundry soaps at Meijer that I'm going to look at for our regular laundry.

Would you like to try this out? Rockin' Green is giving away a 45/90 bag in your choice of formula and scent. To enter the giveaway let me know what detergent you currently use on your cloth diapers (or laundry) and if you like it or not. I'll close the giveaway in two weeks on June 3rd at midnight. For extra entries follow my blog and/ or be a confirmed email subscriber. Leave a comment for each extra entry with a total of three entries possible. Be sure that you include your email or have it listed on your profile. If you're interested in placing an order you can use the code "onelittle" for 10% off.

*Giveaway now closed.  Thanks for the interest.  Congrats to TheGirl!*

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Goodbye, Microwave!

Notice anything different? Yep, lots more counter space! A friend posted a link on Facebook to an article on the dangers of using a microwave. I've read the article before and seeing it again was just the prompting I needed to get rid of mine. Its not actually gone, just downstairs. If we can get by without using it for a while, I'll get rid of it for good.

You can read the article for more information. A few things stand out to me:

- Its a commonly known fact that you can't heat breastmilk in a microwave, it destroys the nutrients. Why would this be different than any other foods? I'm doing the best I can to provide my family with vitamin rich, healthy foods and don't want the microwave working against me.

- There are no studies that I am aware of proving that a microwave is safe to use. In general, I'm just not messing around with my kids health any more. Too many people I know are fighting cancer or other serious diseases without a known cause. If there is something I can do to keep my family healthy, I'm going to do it.

So what are we going to do when we can't quickly heat dinner in the microwave? I don't know! I'll just keep lots of fresh carrots on hand to eat. Good thing my kids like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Stay tuned to see how this goes... (This article on reheating foods without a microwave makes it seem pretty easy.)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday - Birds and Nests

Muffin Tin Monday is celebrating spring this month with a couple fun themes! This week was birds and nests, so I made a bird and a nest. ;) The bird is from Family Fun magazine and the nest is spaghetti noodles with butter and garlic salt.

isn't he cute?

on his nest

Lucy gobbled hers up right away!

Julia tried the egg a couple times, which was great. She normally doesn't eat hard boiled eggs and has a hard time trying new foods. Chalk one up for Muffin Tin Mondays!

Excuse the laundry in the background; this weekend we were busy with a garage sale so my house was a bit neglected. Next week's theme is seeds, plants, and flowers. I'm thinking of including sprouts - check out my posts from last year. If you've never grown sprouts, its super easy and fun. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Haffertee Hamster

Just thought I'd share the sweetest little read aloud books that we are enjoying:

Haffertee is a stuffed toy hamster that Ma Diamond made for her daughter Yolanda. Haffertee has all kinds of adventures with Yo, and in the process learns about God. The books are gentle and fun, perfect for my girls' ages (2 and 4). I have fond memories of my mom reading these books to us and am enjoying sharing them with my girls now. They aren't available new, but I've completed my set by purchasing them used on Amazon (with my Swagbucks!). There are six in the first series and then two more that were written later.

We read Haffertee's First Christmas and Haffertee's First Easter over the holidays. It was such a fun way to teach the girls more about the true meaning of the celebrations. Lucy has brought up some good questions that led to conversations about patience, obedience, and more. We are still working our way through the series, and I'm sure we will be enjoying these many times over.

Monday, May 10, 2010

About Me

In no particular order, 5 things you may not know about me:

1 - My house looks like this (and worse) far too often. This was after I had started cleaning up.

2 - I do not like chocolate. Chocolate ice cream, blech. I do like chocolate when there is a cookie involved. Enter Choco Leibniz. I ate several almost every day of my pregnancy ...and still do.

3 - There are usually several piles of laundry around. It seems like the third baby has pushed me over the edge of the never to catch up again laundry mountain. I have a cute little helper though.

4 - We do not watch tv. We own a tv for occasional Dora dvds and Ross' video games, but we don't have it connected for regular tv watching.

5 - We have a chocolate lab named Leia. Here Julia is feeding her a stick. Yes, she ate it and yes, Julia's hat is on backwards. No, it wasn't even that cold, she just wanted to wear it.

There you have it. 5 fun facts about me. ;) Your turn...

Friday, May 7, 2010


Several people have asked me recently how nursing is going and I realized I hadn't updated here about this. After Esther was born I shared some of my struggles - tongue tie, sore cracked bleeding nipples, extremely painful nursing sessions, mastitis, using a nipple shield, and wanting to give up. Continuing on with nursing during those first weeks was sooo hard. After sharing here that Esther had her tongue tie clipped and was using the shield, I didn't have much to update.

Using the nipple shield was frustrating because I didn't know how else to try and help her and I hated that we still weren't nursing right. Having her tongue tie clipped had made our sessions less painful and the shield was helping me start to heal. Esther struggled to nurse without the shield though and wasn't used to the milk flowing right into her mouth (the shield slowed the milk flow for her). Even with the shield she would make a clicking noise and loose the suction constantly, not using her tongue properly. I tried some tongue exercises with her, letting her suck on my finger for a minute and then pressing down on her tongue and slowly pulling my finger from her mouth. We tried without the shield from time to time, but it just didn't work.

I'm not really sure what happened other than tincture of time. Esther's little mouth grew bigger and she was able to latch on better. Eventually I decided we were ready and just committed myself to not using the shield for a whole day. She was struggling and not relaxing while she nursed, but we kept trying and made it all night and the next day without the shield. At one point she was fussy and I decided to put the shield back on, but she didn't like it. I didn't quite know what to do then! I had a baby who didn't want to nurse with the shield or without it. She ended up nursing without the shield.

An interesting note is that just before she finally weaned from the shield, we took her to a chiropractor/ kinesiologist. He adjusted her back and neck, to the point that she could visibly turn her head much better than before. Within a couple of days after her adjustment she also stopped projectile vomiting. She had been spitting up - a HUGE spit up at least once or twice a day allll over the place. I would have to change my clothes, her clothes, and wipe up the floor, the couch, and anything else in sight every time. She completely stopped. I think that the adjustment also may have helped our progress toward getting rid of the shield.

Just before she turned three months old, we were finally shield free. Its been a couple of weeks now and Esther nurses perfectly - well, except that she likes to turn her head to see what her sisters are doing while still trying to nurse. She also likes to smile at me while nursing and plays games with me, latching on for a second and then smiling. I love it. I love that we stuck it out. I told Ross that I needed a prize, this is such a huge hard difficult thing that I accomplished. I am definitely proud of myself and my prize is sleeping on the couch beside me while I type this. She is a sweet little baby, very content and easy going. She smiles easily and is great at snuggling. I love you baby Esther.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Fun First

We had a fun "first" at our house the other day. I've never painted Lucy and Julia's fingernails before, but we did just that on Sunday! We had the chance to review Piggy Paint non-toxic nail polish and remover. Lucy and Julia were more than happy to be my product testers.

Piggy Paint is formulated from natural ingredients and contains no toxic chemicals. No formaldehyde, toluene, phthalates, Bisphenol A, ethyl acetate, or acetone. (Yes, those are real ingredients in other nail polishes, along with lots of other yucky things.) Here is a picture comparing Piggy Paint to other nail polishes -

Yikes! I won't even get into the awfulness of nail polish remover. When I was younger we used it to kill bugs for our collections. Just soak a cotton ball in nail polish remover and put a bug in a closed jar with the cotton ball. I do not want my children breathing that in - or myself for that matter. I used to wear toe nail polish all summer, but haven't for a couple of years now because I decided it wasn't safe.

I was so excited to try Piggy Paint! I was curious to see if this polish would be difficult to put on or chip easily or something. Lucy was great at sitting still while I put it on her. I did two coats and used a blow dryer like they recommend. I also did my nails and Julia's too. The polish went on nicely and dried well. It had a slight smell to it, but nothing at all like other nail polishes. I had to stick my nose right up to it to even smell anything.

Both girls thought they were hot stuff and had fun showing off their pretty nails. By the end of the next day, mine was pretty chipped, especially on my right hand but other nail polishes always did the same thing. (Thats why I stick to painting my toes.) The polish stayed pretty well on the girls, in fact its still on Lucy because she's refusing to let me take it off. I used the Piggy Paint Nail Polish Remover to take mine off. I had to rub just a bit more than with a "normal" nail polish remover, but again there was no awful scent to deal with. We are very happy with Piggy Paint nail polish and remover! Lucy already has other colors picked out that she wants to try.

Check out their website to see all of the fun colors available (we used Forever Fancy). They also have some great tips for teaching colors and patterns with nail polish - fun! If you'd like to try Piggy Paint, you can use the code WORD10L for 10% off anything on their website including sale items. (expires July 31, 2010) If you spend over $35 you get free shipping. Join their Facebook page for special sales and offers. Thanks Piggy Paint!

I received Piggy Paint Nail Polish and Remover for review. I did not receive any other compensation and the opinions are all my own.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Children's Medicine Recall

Some of the products included in the recall may contain a higher concentration of active ingredient than is specified; others may contain inactive ingredients that may not meet internal testing requirements; and others may contain tiny particles. While the potential for serious medical events is remote, the company advises consumers who have purchased these recalled products to discontinue use.

Ugh, this just illustrates why I refuse to use the stuff unless absolutely necessary. I can't even keep track anymore of how many times Tylenol has been recalled. Please check your medicine cabinets. For ideas on natural remedies check out my list here.