Monday, October 20, 2014



When the laundry is all clean...

And I'm putting away my socks...

I pretend like I'm Donny Osmond.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Little Tikes Review--Grey Sports Touch 'N' Go Racer

 I have received this product from MGA as part of their toy tester program.


Recently I was invited to become a member of Team Little Tikes. Since I'm a grandma, or an adopted grandma, to quite a few little ones, I thought this would be a perfect chance to test out some new toys. I've always thought Little Tikes Website toys were not only educational, but fun and sturdy as well.

The first toy Little Tikes Website sent me was the Grey Sports Touch 'N' Go Racer. I think I was just as excited as the grandchildren to see how this speedy racer worked.  When I showed up with a toy in hand, none of the three could contain their excitement.

I showed 5-year-old Chunk how to remove the tab that protects the batteries (which were provided--yay!) from being drained before actual usage. He mastered that easily enough. Then he helped me remove the car itself from the packaging. I loved that the car was attached by means of blue twisty paper in a figure-8 shape. Two small twists and the car was out and ready for play! No assembly required. (That was important to me when I had three small children waiting for action!)

Easy Access!

Both Chunk and 4-year-old Pixie got the hang of it immediately and had fun pressing the various buttons to make sounds, that of an engine starting, a horn honking, and the engine revving. The most fun though was pressing that "Go" button to see the car take off on its own, 15-20 feet down the length of a cement porch! We finally had to make the children take turns because all three were so excited to make that car go. 


 The package was marked for 2+ Years, but our 2-year-old Miss Baby Elephant had a little trouble. She couldn't seem to comprehend that she needed to press the "Go" button and then let the car go on its own. She held on to the car after pressing "Go" until the wheels stopped spinning, then threw it to make it "go."  No amount of tutoring helped her to get the hang of it. (Her mom thought maybe she was just trying to keep the other two from getting the car!) The sturdiness of the car amazed me, as it survived quite a few of her "tosses."


We took the car inside too, to see how well it did on an area rug, and it soared across the living room floor just as well as it did outside. It wasn't long before they wanted to take it back outside so they had room to watch it fly!

The Little Tikes Grey Sports Touch 'N' Go Racer provided over an hour's worth of outdoor play for these three kids that evening, and is still going strong a few weeks later. I think that Chunk's shirt says it all!  

**Become a member of a fun site where you can share your love for all things Little Tikes--Join Team Little Tikes

#spon: I'm required to disclose a relationship between my blog and MGAE. This could include MGAE providing me with content, product, access or other forms of payment.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Sarah’s Gift  
Madonna Dries Christensen 

October is Down Syndrome awareness month. With an economy of words, and two photos, here’s one view of enlightenment.
        My 10-year-old granddaughter, Sarah, has Down syndrome. She’s a social butterfly; at school nearly everyone knows her by name. She’s loving, thoughtful, sympathetic, compassionate, and given to serious tears when she believes she has hurt someone’s feelings. It’s also apparent that Sarah is aware of other people’s specific needs.
        Sarah’s seven-year-old brother, William, has autism. He sometimes socializes with his two sisters, but he’s easily distracted into doing something else. William is nonverbal and uses pictures to communicate. Although he loves school and riding the bus, a new classroom and other changes in routine cause stress. Carrying pictures of things he likes is comforting.
        Sarah understands the comfort of familiar things. Her doll, Inga, accompanies her most everywhere except to school. One morning while William waited for the bus, Sarah drew a picture of some of his favorite things: A school bus, a stop sign, wheels, a shoe, and eyeglasses.
        This simple drawing brought not only a moment of socialization between siblings, but William communicated recognition of the gift by touching Sarah’s arm.   

 Photos by Jill B.

[For information about Down syndrome, see To learn about autism, see]  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Power of Saying 'Yay!'

Four-year-old Pixie said to me today, "Grandma, come into the living room to watch me dance, then say, 'Yay!'"

So I did. I watched her dance.

And I clapped my hands.

At the end I said, "Yay!"

She beamed.

If you need me to say "Yay!" in your behalf today, just let me know. There aren't enough Yays in the world.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pinterest Fail--Slow Cooker Peanut Clusters

Over the past few years I have learned to make a lot of things from scratch. It's not because I really wanted to. I'm all about getting things done as quickly as possible. Homemade things take longer so why wouldn't I just pop into Walmart for some pizza sauce when making it takes so much longer?

Yeah! Why wouldn't I?

Well, for one, I don't have a job. Not having a job generally doesn't pay too well, and Walmart keeps insisting that I pay for stuff if I want it.

For two, I plant stuff. Not that I really wanted to do that either, but please refer back to reason number one. Planting stuff is generally cheaper than buying stuff.

So over the last little while, I have learned to make the following things from scratch, and no longer buy them at the grocery store (unless I am really, really, pressed for time, which normally I am not. See reason one again.)

Alfredo sauce
Pizza sauce
Spaghetti sauce
Potato soup
Ranch dressing
Peach syrup
Chocolate syrup for ice cream
Pumpkin Puree
Fruit roll-ups
and a whole recipe book of other stuff.

On occasion, Computer Geek will come home with a bag of peanut clusters as a special treat. He'll hide them in his desk drawer, but since I know where he hides stuff, it doesn't stay there very long. And he can't get mad at me when I sneak treats because I'm his wife.

Thanks to Pinterest, I learned that you can make your own peanut clusters! And since I make my own stuff--well, it naturally followed that I could do this thing!

So I'm going to show you what the Slow Cooker Peanut Clusters should look like, as created by the super-cool Adrian over at the blog Life With Garnish.  Go HERE to see these yummy, chocolaty, peanutty, clusters. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Gorgeous right?

Now I will show you what those same clusters look like when I MAKE MY OWN.

Behold-- the human version of Kibbles and Bits.

Yup. Pinterest Fail!

It's not really my fault that they look like that, though. 

It's because I didn't obey the recipe.

The recipe clearly calls for Vanilla Almond Bark. And clearly Vanilla Baking Chips are kind of like the same thing as Vanilla Almond Bark right?

Yeah, I thought so too!

This was a great learning experience though, because until the other day I never knew you could eat peanut clusters with a spoon.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Easiest Ever Peanut Butter Cookies

A few years ago, I was on the hunt for a gluten-free dessert recipe. My friend has children who have gluten sensitivities, and when I had youth get-togethers at my house, I would kick myself every time they would remind me that they couldn't partake of any of the goodies I had provided.  While searching for something yummy, yet gluten-free, I came upon this wonderful recipe.

I call these my 1-1-1-1 Peanut Butter Cookies. They are super easy to make and the recipe is easy to memorize.

1-1-1-1 Peanut Butter Cookies (Gluten-Free)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix ingredients together.
Drop by spoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet. Press lightly with a fork.
Bake between 9-12 minutes, depending on your oven and altitude.
Makes about 10 cookies.

See?  Easy. I make these frequently when it's late at night and the guys want a snack, but I don't want to spend a whole lot of time baking. I like that there's no flour in them because no matter how hard I try to keep things clean while baking, I always manage to dump flour on the table, on the floor, or down the front of my shirt. Easy to make, easy to clean up.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Chicks in the 'Hood

The Hood

I am very lucky in that I live in a neighborhood in which people adhere to the policy of "Live and Let Live." In fact, I'd be willing to stick my neck out and say that for the most part, our whole town is like that.

We don't call the cops on each other when someone's music is a little too loud. Our thought is, "Hey, the neighbor is spending one of his few days off, out in the yard, playing with his kids and making improvements. Let the AC/DC roll!" 

If someone is out shooting fireworks other than on an "approved" holiday, I don't get my shorts in a bunch. I just figure they must be celebrating someone's birthday and had some leftovers from July 4.

Some stranger cuts through my back yard so they don't have to walk an extra three blocks? Go for it. Just leave my yard as you found it. Or better yet, pick up a rake on your way through and help out.

The guy down the block plants tall wildflowers in his front yard instead of grass. The neighbors don't complain that it's an eyesore, or looks messy. They appreciate the view as they stroll by.

The Chicks

Our next door neighbors, as a family project, built a chicken coop and stocked it with a few egg-layers. The first thing the grandkids do when they come over is say, "Can we go see the chickens?"  Since the coop borders our yard, they get a good view.

Baby Elephant and Chunk love to sing along with the rooster when he gets crowing.

Our neighbors open the coop and let the chickens out for some fresh air several times a week.
Uh-oh. Do they get in my yard?
Do they get in my garden?
Yup. In fact they ate a whole flat of vegetable starts that I left sitting out in the yard, waiting to be planted.
Do I complain about it?

Why not?????

Well, for one, I think it's great that my neighbors let their chickens "free-range" as we call it. It's good for the chickens and it's good for their eggs. 

Two, I live in a rural area. If I don't want chickens, deer, or baby goats in or near my yard, I know what to do--either move to an urban area or invest in the resources to protect my garden from them.

Three, they eat grasshoppers which would cause more damage to my garden than the chickens ever would.

Four, we sometimes get free eggs!

And of course the final reason has to do with a couple of little kids who have totally succumbed to the charms of the chicks in the hood.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Return of the Teen

A week ago today, I said goodbye to Weston as he left on a quest. Was this a quest to destroy a ring and save a kingdom? Or a quest to defeat a gold-hoarding dragon?

Nay. This was a quest to test his fortitude in the absence of a bathroom, a quest to find if he could fall asleep without the whirring sound of a fan but with the screech of forest animals, a quest to prove his mother wrong when she said, "Maybe you should take a long-sleeved shirt in case you get cold." Indeed, it was a quest to prove his manhood.

I am happy to say, he succeeded in his quest. He arrived home yesterday, blistered, sunburned, and exhausted.

The first three days of the fifty mile hike, he trudged uphill in the rain. He drank water (filtered, of course) from cold running streams. He slept on the ground without a pillow. He hiked in boots that started to come apart at the heel. And he brought his iPhone so he could take pictures!  Yay! 

Enjoy the beauty of the high Uintas of Utah.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Ice Cream

Day 31, also known as "I can't believe it's August and summer is almost over!"

I got really lucky in the children department. All three of my kids are people that I really like. They're smart, funny, hard-working, and most importantly--kind.

I recently found out something fun. A story I submitted to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel was chosen for publication. When I first found out, I went to Facebook to share the joy. I thought maybe a few of my friends would "like" the post. Instead, I read comment after comment of congratulatory wishes. I was stunned by all the heart-felt notes.

My two daughters were among my well-wishers. Em sweetened the moment, literally, by dropping by with some surprise ice cream--Oreo Mint Chocolate!  I am never one to turn down ice cream no matter how full I am.  (Well, except that one time when I bought some sugar-free, dairy-free, ginger ice cream. That stuff was nasty, and I did something unheard of--I threw it away.)

Doesn't that look yummy?  I offered some to Computer Geek and luckily he said no!
(Yes that is a map of the world hanging on my office wall. We are geeks who are constantly looking up stuff. Plus, I home school and force Weston to find places on the map just for my amusement.)

Ice cream. A perfect way to end Day 31.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Playing Outside

Hot Time, Summer in the City, Day 30

I was fortunate to be able to spend some time with the grandchildren on Day 30. They love to play outside so I rested on the porch swing while they had their fun.

 Miss Baby Elephant, hanging out with Grandma. I love this photo because her Scandinavian hair is visible. Don't let anyone tell you that brown hair and brown eyes are dominant. Em has brown hair and brown eyes. I actually told her once that she would  never have blue-eyed children. Of her three children, two are blue-eyed blonds. The third is a brown-eyed blond. Bauer's Viking blood conquers all.

Avatar chose to work instead of play. He's just like that.

Chunk showing off his mad biking skills.  He tells me that he doesn't need "stabilizers."  
Translation: Training wheels.

It's a good day when I get to be around these kids. I don't know what will happen when Kay starts having kids. Maybe I will force her to live within one mile of me too.
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