Birthday Party · Writing Appearances

Give Your Little Veterinarian a Party That Gives

I was recently quoted in an article on Moneyish entitled Parties that Give Back Are All the Rage where I briefly talked about a themed birthday party I hosted for one of my daughters a few years ago.

Today I am going to share some more details of that party inspired by my daughter. She combined her love of animals with her love of giving for a veterinarian/humane society themed birthday party.

On to the details…

Instead of gifts, my daughter asked for items that could be donated to a local humane society.

We had called the humane society ahead of time to see what items they were in need of the most. We sent the list of needed supplies along with the handmade invitations, which were made to look like veterinarian appointment reminder cards.

We turned part of our living room into a temporary humane society.

Twelve stuffed dogs were placed in their own “kennels” (tape on the ground around them). Before the party started, my daughters decided if the dogs were boys or girls. They also gave them each a name, which they wrote down on cardstock in front of them.

Here is a picture of three (out of twelve) of the dogs that were available for adoption.

puppies ready for adoption

Each of the guests were allowed to choose a dog to adopt when they arrived. Those that arrived first were able to choose first just like at a humane society.

My family had made collars (not shown in the picture) using paracord and buckles for each of the dogs ahead of time.

We had also cut colored cardstock into the shape of dog tags, punched a hole through each of them, and inserted key chain rings.

The guests had the option to change their dog’s name if they wanted. They each decorated one dog tag, which we attached to the collar of their dog. They also filled out a “certificate of adoption” (from The Chickabug Blog).

vet certificates found on Chickabug Blog

I had various veterinarian supplies set out for the kids to use during the party. Each of the dogs were able to receive a checkup before going home.

vet supplies for vet themed party

I displayed a bunch of animal x-rays (I had borrowed from a resource library for free) in a window. The children had fun guessing which animal each of the x-rays belonged to. I had the answers written on the inside of the papers taped next to them.

Some of the creatures such as the snake were really easy. Others were a little more tricky to figure out.

x-rays for vet themed party

I set out “puppy chow” and blue jello in aluminum pie pans. I placed large spoons within each of these pans since they were for everyone to share.

No one tried to eat them out of the bowls like a dog.

food for a vet themed party

I also set out some pretzel “fetch” sticks for the kids to enjoy.

fetch sticks for vet themed party

I created a cat cake using a cake pan I had borrowed from a library. I am definitely not a professional cake decorator.

I was very thankful it resembled a cat, and it tasted good. Too bad the picture turned out blurry.

cat cake for vet themed party

The humane society had requested toilet paper, so I also made a toilet paper cake.

vetrinarian party tp cake

My daughter still had the opportunity to unwrap presents because many of the parents wrapped the donated items.

Below are some of the items that were donated. Other donated items not shown included toilet paper, paper towels, three bottles of bleach, and more dog/cat toys.

donate to local humane society

The kids went home with their adopted dogs, certificates of adoption, dog tags and collars, and little cat and dog magnets that my daughters and I had made ahead of time.

pet magnets for vet themed party

We gave each of the guests a picture of my daughter in the middle of all of the donated items with a thank you note written on the back to thank them for their generosity.

Both of my daughters enjoyed dropping the load of supplies off at the humane society. The people at the humane society seemed grateful for the donations.

Have you ever hosted a birthday party to give back to others?

Veterinarian from the book Jobs of a Preschooler

“I’m a veterinarian…” from the book Jobs of a Preschooler


Ramblings · Writing Appearances

How To Make Math Worksheets Fun

Recently I wrote a post for Hands On As We Grow entitled Simple Number Line Car Race to Teach Math about a fun activity I used with one of my daughters to reinforce the concepts of addition and subtraction.

race cars to learn math facts

I enjoy doing simple at-home learning activities with my daughters that don’t require worksheets; however, worksheets can serve a purpose.

Some worksheets seem tedious and boring. Others include interesting information and colorful pictures.

One of my daughters enjoyed doing the activity shown above when she completed addition and subtraction worksheets.

Below are two additional techniques I have used with my daughters to make math worksheets more fun.

Turn Worksheets into a Scavenger Hunt

One of my daughters used to get very overwhelmed with math worksheets. I could tell she was frustrated and the worksheets took much longer for her to complete than necessary. To remedy this situation (while still having her do the worksheets), I turned the worksheets into a timed scavenger hunt.

I simply cut the worksheets into small sections, wrote “clues” to where the next section of the worksheet could be found, and hid the sections around the house. After she completed a section of problems, she would read the clue, and then race to the next small section of problems.

I set a stop watch to record how long it took her to complete the entire scavenger hunt (and worksheet). She definitely finished the worksheets much quicker, and she no longer dreaded having to complete them. Turning the worksheets into a scavenger hunt became a fun game.

Use Dry Erase Boards

My daughters enjoy writing on dry erase boards, so I have copied math problems from worksheets on to boards for them to complete. Again, having just a few problems at a time seems to be less overwhelming than an entire worksheet filled with problems. The dry erase board also offers more space than the worksheets often provide to solve equations.

Once they solve the problems, I correct them on the board. If they get the answer wrong, they redo the problem on the board. If they get the answer correct, they write the answer only on to the worksheet. I have them do this step since we homeschool, and I keep all of their finished worksheets as proof they are actually doing schoolwork, progressing in their studies, and learning.

It may seem silly that using a dry erase board instead of a sheet of paper yields better results since they are doing all of the same problems, but this worked well with my daughters when they were younger.

What are your thoughts about worksheets?










Ramblings · Writing Appearances

8 Batty Books

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you if you click on them and make a purchase.)

I love doing activities or unit studies based on specific themes. Fall is a great time for themes such as fall leaves, apples, pumpkins, and even bats!

I recently compiled 20+ batty crafts, snacks, and activities to try at home, which was published on Hands On As We Grow.

After doing some batty crafts, snacks, and activities, you may want to huddle together like a colony of bats and enjoy some batty books. Although there are many bat books to choose from, below is a list of eight bat books I was able to check out from my local library.

Bat Jamboree by Kathi Appelt

This rhyming picture book shows the many acts of a group of bats performing in front of other animals. It counts from one to ten and then back again from ten to one. The “show won’t be over until the bat lady sings”.

Little Lost Bat by Sandra Markle

This is a longer story with some sad realities of a bat’s life. It starts with a female Mexican free-tailed bat giving birth to her little baby. It discusses the life of a little bat inside of a cave including some dangers. For example, it states “a snake lurking at the entrance crawls across the cave ceiling and snags a baby bat for dinner”. It also talks about the bats searching for meals of moths, beetles, and mosquitoes; a bat using echolocation (although it only describes the process instead of using the word echolocation); and it goes into detail of an owl snatching the mother bat out of the air. The baby bat waits and waits inside the cave for his mom to arrive, but she never does because she has been taken by the owl. At the end, the baby bat finds another mom bat (who has lost her baby bat) to take care of him.

Although this story does show the realities a bat may face in the wild, some children may have a difficult time accepting the loss of a baby bat and the death of the mom

Bat Loves the Night by Nicola Davies

This story focuses on a pipistrelle bat’s activities throughout a day including waking up, gliding, capturing a meal, and feeding her own little baby bat. Various bat facts are also included throughout the pages.

Hello, Bumblebee Bat by Darrin Lunde

This story has simple text for little readers. It is set up in question and answer format. For example, the little bat is asked his name, and the little bat responds that his name is Bumblebee Bat. Throughout the book, the bat answers how small he is, what he looks like, how he sees at night, where he lives, how he sleeps, and more.

I found this book in the children’s nonfiction section at my library. It focuses specifically on information concerning bumblebee bats.

Bats at the Library by Brian Lies

This rhyming picture book talks about the adventures a colony of bats has at the library throughout one night. They hang upside down from a lamp, create shadows, copy themselves, splash in a drinking fountain, and (of course) read.

Bats in the Band by Brian Lies

This rhyming picture book starts with bats awakening after hibernation. So, what do bats do when they no longer are quietly hibernating? They create music with horns, bagpipes, bugles, violins, straws, spoons, and more. There’s a one-bat band that plays, a group that plays a country song, and more. As night ends and the bats head home, they realize music can be found in everything.

Bats at the Ballgame by Brian Lies

This rhyming picture book shows the adventures of bats at a ballgame. A vendor flutters around with mothdogs, the mound is raked (with a fork), the anthem is sung, and the bats play a great game of bat-ball. What team will win before the night ends?

Bats at the Beach by Brian Lies

This rhyming picturre books shows the adventures of bats at (you guessed it) a beach. The bats even take turns being kites (as seen on the cover) and enjoy dessert at the snack bar (hanging upside down around a single light bulb that is attracting many insects).

What do you think of bats? Are they cute and furry or creepy creatures?

Jobs of a Preschooler · Ramblings

Our Grand Pumpkin Experiment

I’ve mentioned that my family and I have been able to make pickles, can jalapenos, and make quick fresh salsa this summer using fresh ingredients.

Our garden is no longer nearly as large as it had been in the past since we moved last year, but we have still been able to enjoy jalapenos, cherry tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, green beans, sugar snap peas, and strawberries from the plants we have planted in pots on our deck.

We were even able to get a few zucchinis from a zucchini plant in a large pot on our patio. My daughters were so happy we had actually gotten a zucchini from a potted plant that they invented “Zucchini Harvest Day” on the day we picked the first zucchini.

It’s now time to enjoy pumpkins.

We don’t have pumpkins in our potted garden, but my grandparents recently gifted my daughters with two pumpkins from their garden. My grandma mentioned these pumpkins are specifically grown for cooking.

Since we had written “make a pie” on our fall activity list, we decided to attempt to make a fresh pumpkin pie using these pumpkins.

pumpkins on deck

Maybe we’ve been doing too many scientific experiments lately because when I mentioned this would be our “grand pumpkin experiment”, one of my daughters reminded me that I needed to follow the steps of the scientific method in order to call it an experiment.

Jobs of a Preschooler- I'm a scientist...

“I’m a scientist…” from the book Jobs of a Preschooler

Well, my objective was to make pumpkin puree and create an edible pumpkin pie using the pumpkins we had been given.

My hypothesis was that we would successfully create pumpkin puree, and the pie would be edible but would not taste or look good, yet we would still have fun even if it didn’t turn out well. At least that way, I would either be right with my hypothesis or pleasantly surprised with the results.

I wasn’t sure what materials or procedure we needed to follow to make the pumpkin puree, though, so I did some online research.

We started by cutting the pumpkins open and scooping out the insides.

scooping pumpkin innards

As one of my daughters and I were scooping out the insides, my other daughter separated all of the seeds from the guts of the pumpkins.

Sorting through pumpkin guts

One of the ideas I found online for making pumpkin puree was to cut the pumpkin into strips and bake it. We decided to try that.

I had the pieces sitting with the peel side down, but they started burning, so I rotated them a few times while they were baking. I removed them from the oven when they were soft enough to peel and mash.

Baking pumpkin

One of the other ideas I saw online for making pumpkin puree was to remove the peel, cut the pumpkin into cubes, and boil the pieces. We decided to try that, too.

This technique reminded me of a combination of cutting a watermelon and making mashed potatoes. I used a colander to remove the water once all of the pumpkin pieces were soft. Then, my daughter mashed them in a large bowl using a potato masher.

Boiling pumpkin

We had more pumpkin pieces baking in the oven than boiling on the stove since I couldn’t fit as many pieces in the large pot as I could on the cookie sheets.

Our observations were that the boiled pumpkin seemed to soften quicker than the baked pumpkin. We were also able to mash it sooner since the peel had already been removed. I had to let the baked pumpkin cool for a little bit before I could remove the peel and mash it. I apparently didn’t let it cool long enough because I still managed to burn my fingers a little as I was removing the peel.

The mashed baked pumpkin pieces seemed more stringy and less moist than the mashed boiled pumpkin pieces. I was concerned the boiled pumpkin puree was going to be too moist for future recipes (especially if frozen first), so I ended up mixing the baked pumpkin puree and the (drained) boiled pumpkin puree together. I divided the puree into containers, so it could cool in the refrigerator.

pumpkin puree in container

Once we had our pumpkin puree, we were ready to make the pumpkin pie. I found a recipe on allrecipes for homemade fresh pumpkin pie using 2 cups of the pumpkin puree.

We read through the recipe, made sure we had all of the ingredients, and then watched a video on Youtube to see how to cut shortening into flour using the two butter knives method.

We successfully made the pie crust, but I managed to accidentally tear it apart as I was trying to put it into the greased pie pan. So, we rolled the dough flat again, placed the greased pie pan upside down on it, cut around the edges, and carefully peeled it away from the board we had used to roll it. Once peeled from the board, we flipped the pie pan with the dough in it. From there, we pushed the dough flat and pinched along the top edges.

It wasn’t the most gorgeous pie crust, but I considered it a success since I was able to get it into the pie pan without it falling apart again.

homemade pie crust

We had looked through the list of ingredients before making the pie, but we didn’t realize we only had about 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg instead of the 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg suggested in the pumpkin pie recipe. So, we used 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and we decided to increase the amount of ground cinnamon to 1 teaspoon.

We also didn’t use an electric mixer or immersion blender like the recipe had recommended. Instead, we mixed the filling by hand with a large plastic spoon.

Mixing pie filling

Once mixed well, we poured the mixture into the pan. We actually had a little bit of extra mixture that didn’t fit in the pan, which I disposed of. We created a heart with the small amount of left over pie crust we had. Then, the pie was carefully placed in the preheated oven. I was thankful I managed to get it into the oven without spilling any of it.

precooked pumpkin pie

The result was that cooked pumpkin pie actually turned out much better than I had expected, so my hypothesis was wrong. It may not be the best looking pumpkin pie, but it didn’t look horrible and everyone in my family thought it tasted great. In fact, the entire pie was eaten in less than twenty-four hours by my family of four.

finished pumpkin pie

In conclusion, we were able to successfully make pumpkin puree and an edible, delicious pumpkin pie using the pumpkins my daughters were gifted. We were able to do this by researching information, following (and adjusting) directions, and working together.

But, we didn’t stop there.

We didn’t let those seeds my daughter had separated at the beginning go to waste. We soaked them overnight and then made two different kinds of baked pumpkin seeds. One included a mixture of butter, sugar, and cinnamon and the other was just salt.

2 kinds of pumpkin seeds

When the pumpkin puree was completely cooled, I divided it two cups at a time into six separate labeled freezer bags. I’m curious to see how well it will work in future recipes once it has been frozen. Hopefully, we will be able to replicate 6 more delicious pumpkin pies within the next few months with this puree.

pumpkin puree prepared to freeze

We had made a total of 15 cups of pumpkin puree from the two pumpkins. We used 2 cups for the pumpkin pie and packaged 12 cups in the freezer bags to freeze, so we had a total of 1 cup pumpkin puree remaining. Since I didn’t want to waste the extra pumpkin puree, I found a pumpkin muffins with cinnamon streusel topping recipe from allrecipes that required only 1 cup of pumpkin puree.

We made a total of 18 muffins using the recipe. They didn’t hold together very well when I removed them from the muffin pans, but they still tasted pretty good.

pumpkin muffins

Do you have a pumpkin recipe you’d like to share?

From book Jobs of a Preschooler...Preschooler being a chef

“I’m a chef…” from the book Jobs of a Preschooler




Events · Ramblings

When a Book Purchase Has a Story

Recently I wrote about my daughters’ little business selling some homemade items. My husband and I offered to pay for my daughters to sell at the local farmers’ market five times this year as a Christmas gift. As a result, I have had the opportunity to accompany my daughters and sell my books Jobs of a Preschooler and Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles at the market.

I really enjoy talking to the people who walk through the market. Some are just passing through the area. Others are in town visiting family. Some have lived in the area for their entire lives and regularly go to the market.

It’s nice when people buy my books, but I take even more pleasure in listening to the reasons why people buy my books.

Jobs of a Preschooler (affiliate link) has been purchased by preschool teachers, people who know preschool teachers, and parents and grandparents of children who will be starting preschool soon or who are currently in preschool.

Jobs of a Preschooler book

Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles (affiliate link) has been purchased by many people for children and adults. Apparently it makes a great gag gift, which is quite entertaining to me. A lot of people have told me they are buying it for their adult child or spouse who loves pickles.

Other purchases have touched my heart and make me feel so excited to be a part of someone’s learning process. One lady purchased Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles for a reluctant reader who loves pickles. A speech pathologist purchased it for the repetition of the word pickles. Another parent purchased it for her child who was going to speech therapy and was told to try sour foods such as pickles to get his mouth moving.

Quite a few teachers have also bought Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles to further their discussion during their plant unit. Not only can they read the book, but the students can also put together the order of how to make pickles using the free printable that goes along with the book.

Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles book cover

Thank you to anyone who has purchased one (or both) of my books, and thank you to those of you who have shared your story with me.

Other people’s stories are one of the reasons I plan to continue writing stories. I would love to hear from you if you have purchased one (or both) of my books about the reason you made the purchase.

May you have a wonderful day!