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One Fourth of my Life

My husband leaned on the bathroom counter the other morning, grinned at me, and said, "Do you realize we've been together now for one-fourth of our lives?" I had never thought about it that way and he really caught me off-guard. I smiled at him and said, "And we even still like each other!" which is kind of our little joke because we've both been divorced. He told me that someone from our church remarked to him once that they saw us snuggling together in line at the checkout counter and were amused that we are so obviously in love.

It's so different from my previous marriage, which was controlling and abusive. I don't even like to talk about it. What I do want to say is this, if you are in a relationship that causes you constant mental or physical pain, LEAVE. I was so scared to leave. I had no job, was a college student, had two young kids, no family in this state, and a terribly low self-esteem. I was convinced there was no way I could leave. But I did. And I survived. Not only did I survive, but I became a better person for it. I grew stronger, more assured, and began to love myself again. My children watched me get a job, finish college, push through nasty divorce and custody proceedings, buy a house, start a business, and ultimately meet the man that God intended for me to marry.

My kids are nearly grown now and probably don't remember the early years. I remember doing our laundry in the bathtub because I didn't have quarters. I remember eating popcorn for two weeks so the kids could have the real food to eat. I rode the city bus and lived in the college student family housing, scraping together my $345 a month rent, while my ex refused to pay child support. I was terrified of him and his power, but I trusted in a Higher Power to protect me and my kids. People from the church lent a hand when they could. I was often forced to go to churches for food and clothing. I also enrolled on food stamps and government health care for the kids. But I also knew, deep in my heart, that I was strong, that I would succeed, and that someday I'd be able to pay back into the system every penny I was taking out.

This past fourth of my life has been a whirlwind of ups and downs, richer and poorer, sickness and health. But my husband and I stood firm together, loving each other, loving God, loving the kids, and working towards a better future. We are so happy that we can tithe to our church one-tenth of our income. We're not rich, but we're not drowning in debt in a terrible economy. The vehicles we own are old, but paid off. The daycare business I run is successful and my husband is secure in his job. One of the three kids will graduate college this year, and the other two are juniors in high school. Two more years and we'll be child-free (presumably) and are truly looking forward to the next half of our lives together.

Four Planet Weidknecht Winners

African Mother Painting from Kallahanskiy Works - emilie P (emiliepecka@...)

Speekee Spanish for Children - shellykim (@pcolasteelerfan)

Nonni's Biscotti - Allison D (lola_violets_2010@...)

$20 Walmart Card - Becky Jane (riseaboveyourlimits@...)

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$150 Prize Package Back to School Giveaway Hop

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$150 Prize Package
Back to School Giveaway Hop
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Confessions of a Daycare Provider, Germ Edition

It never fails. I always know by that first sneeze. Not the little "oh I'm allergic to dust" sneeze, but that one that awakens every cold germ in the body. As a daycare provider, I am very prone to colds because with eight kids there are all sorts of germs bouncing through my front door daily. I rarely ever get sick enough that I have to close; then again I won't close unless my fever goes over 103 degrees F. Unless, well, you know the other stuff that causes people to not go to work. But for the most part, I can't call in sick. I have families depending on me. If I can't work, they can't work, they don't get paid, they don't want to pay me, it's a vicious circle. And we all need our incomes.

It started last week. That first sneeze. Then another. By evening my throat was scratchy. I knew it was more than allergies this time. I refused to admit I was sick. Giving in always makes it worse. I sniffled through the night, waking up once to dig through my bedside drawer for a cough drop. When I woke up to a way-to-loud alarm clock, there were three wrappers on the floor. Guess I only remember the one. I stumbled into the bathroom for some water since my mouth tasted like honey and mint and kitty litter (or something like that). I brushed my teeth and dragged myself into the shower and then down the stairs to open the daycare. Coffee, coffee, ah yes, wonderful hubby already started it. Remind me to kiss him, when I'm no longer germy.

As I chased around toddlers with tissues all day, I grinned knowing exactly where my cold came from and understanding that hey it's just part of the job. The good thing was I couldn't smell the stinky diapers because I was too stuffed up. It was really hard to sing at circle time, while sneezing and coughing but the kids didn't care how awful I sounded, so we sang of hot dogs popping in the pan, stars twinkling in the sky, and alligators eating monkeys. I was so jealous of them at naptime. I really wished for a big cot with a little cotton blanket. Instead I did paperwork and sanitized toys.

Here it is a week later, and I still have the cold. It's gone from my nose, to my head, to my chest, to my ears. I wonder if this will be another three month cold? I'm still chasing little children who are sneezing stalactites from their little noses, trying to catch it before it hits the ground. Then one who wasn't sick, sneezes. Not that little dust-bunny sneeze, that one that tells me, here we go again. I'm telling you, buy stock in facial tissues!!!


Giveaway Gala Coming Soon


1 $500 grand prize winner
2 $100 winners
3 $50 winners
4 $25 winners
5 $10 winners

The Giveaway Gala will run from August 22nd, 2011 at 12:01 AM EST to September 5th, 2011 at 12:01 AM EST.
Bookmark this page now so you don't miss it!

Nine Giveaways at Planet Weidknecht

 I just counted and there are nine active giveaways 
at Planet Weidknecht. 
Lots of great prizes available. 
Come check it out.

More Preschool Resources

Preschool Worksheets and Printables

Preschool Coloring Pages

Preschool Themes

Preschool Coloring Book Fun

Lakeshore Learning Free Activities

Free Online Label Maker for Preschool Materials at Environments

Earn a $50 Certificate for Discount School Supply by submiting a preschool activity

Enter to Win $150 Back to School Prize Package

It's time for the Back to School Giveaway Hop and I hope you are as excited as I am! Thank you to Tammilee Tips, Money $aving Michelle, CentsLess Deals and Klippin Krazy for hosting this hop. This giveaway is open August 7-13 and I have a $150 prize package you can ENTER TO WIN!


Review - Barkley Secret Service Dog Book 1

One of the hardest things to do as a parent of an 8-12 year old is to make your child like reading. Some kids love it, some kids completely rebel against it. Creator H.K. Gilbert and Co-creator Misty Taggart have discovered a way to entice even the most resistant of school-agers to want to crack a book. Barkley is a Secret Service Dog that lives in The White House and solves crimes.
Barkley is a cool skateboardin', sunglass-wearin', talking dog with amazing Gizmo Gear. He even has a human sidekick named Gabby. This book, The Case of the Purple Diamonds, is the first in a series of books with short chapters, just right for the 8-12 crowd.
Tim Davis does a great job with the illustrations, adding more than just pictures to keep kids' interest. It's a fast moving story about a canine secret service agent whose hilarious adventures are full of excitement and attitude. Barkley even has his own website at www.barkley-chapterbooks.com where you can download coloring pages. This brand new series is sure to be a favorite! Check out Barkley's new video!
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book at no charge for this review. Opinions are truly mine.

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Step2 Wild Side Riders Giraffe - Review

Every fall, at least one of my daycare kids goes off to kindergarten and at least one more toddler joins the bunch. This month, I'll be losing one to kindergarten and one to preschool, and my two new toddlers have already started. Whenever I'm purchasing new items, I try to buy them so everyone in the group can use them, even though they are of mixed ages. Oftentimes, though, I will get some that are for "just toddlers" or "just preschoolers" and sometimes even "just four and five year olds." Although this limits who can use the materials, it also gives the younger ones something to look forward to being big enough to use someday. I recently received something just for my toddlers and I'm surprised at how much the big kids really want to use it!
The Step2 Wild Side Riders Giraffe came ready to assemble and that means my darling husband is happy to help me out. It only took him about ten minutes to put the whole thing together, including applying the stickers.
I just love the sad, sleepy eyes on this giraffe. I knew the kids were going to simply love this toy. The wheels roll easily and the "bridle" is a sturdy plastic, as is the body and wheels, and will last a good long time, like all my Step2 toys.
We named him Gerry the Giraffe (which is a throwback to a song my little sister and I learned as kids) and I placed him in the dramatic play area that evening. The next morning, my first arrival lit up like a firefly as soon as he saw it. He climbed right on (he's almost 2) and scooted all around the room. He has loved playing with the bridle too. It flips from the front over the head in one clean sweep. My toddler loves pulling Gerry by the bridle too.
The next arrival that morning was a boy a little older and he loved Gerry just as much. He's had just as much fun pushing the giraffe around the room as he has riding it. Riding, pushing and pulling are all very important motor skills. Sharing is something that doesn't come as easily to these two boys, but we're working on it.
Several times I've discovered my four and five year olds trying to ride Gerry the Giraffe and even though I know it's sturdy enough to hold them, I'm saving this toy for the younger crowd. The big kids have settled for putting the teddy bear on Gerry's back and pushing it around. Look, she loves him so much she's kissing his nose!
Thank you Step2 for another fabulous toy that I can count on for quality and educational value! I might just have to order that Wild Side Riders Zebra now!
Disclosure: I received a giraffe at no charge for this review. My opinions are always true.

The Giraffe Giveaway
Yes, you heard me right! I get to give one away too! I'm going to use Rafflecopter for this giveaway, so just fill out the form below as you finish each task. I'll close the contest at midnight on Friday, August 19th, and email the winner for their shipping address. Must be 18 years or older to enter and win. Entries will be verified before winner notification.


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Review - HighReach Learning

Twenty-five years of planning curriculum for young children can become very repetitive. I'm constantly looking for new and fresh ideas to use in my preschool curriculum. Traditionally I'm very choosy in the materials I select for teaching. I want things to be fun so that the children are drawn in to learn without realizing they are learning. I want them to love to learn. HighReach Learning recently delivered some fabulous materials to me that the children love. Meet Max.
Max is my new baker puppet. He was part of the wonderful box of learning materials that captivated my preschoolers. I named him Max. Mostly because the book that came in the box was "Mix It! Fix It! Make It Move!" and Max sounds very similar to mix, especially when we played with the letter cards. We had fun discovering how to spell Max, then learning that mix is just one letter change from Max, then fix is just one letter change from mix. The children range in age from 1-5 years and all of them responded to the puppet, as though Max were a real entity separate from me. It's always amazing to me how wonderful puppets are in a teaching environment. Max helped us read the book and discuss what we learned.
The HighReach materials also included extra take-home books for the kids, all kinds of curriculum ideas and supplements, and some matching cards. We used the matching cards as part of our mix it, fix it day, stirring up the cards in a big bowl (to mix them) then matching the cards (to fix them). We talked about the different pictures of real items on the matching cards and how we use them in our lives.

Then we used baggies to mix and fix a snack of three different items (cereal-o's, sunflower seeds, and oyster crackers). We talked about the shape of the cereal (circles), sunflower seeds (teardrops), and oyster crackers (hexagons). We used measuring cups and measuring spoons and used one-to-one correspondence to make sure we had one spoon for each serving bowl. We added up the total number of cups and spoons. I've only used a tiny portion of all the wonderful materials in this box. All the materials fit into the included plastic velcro-closure folder for easy storage. Impressive!
There are beautiful full color posters to use with the curriculum, huge booklets of ideas that meet every learning need for preschoolers, even in mixed age groups, and conversation cards to use day by day as the lesson plan grows and extends the concepts. I'm not very good at following a curriculum word for word, because I adapt to my children and their interests and needs, but these materials are very flexible. Find HighReach on Facebook and Twitter too.

I am truly impressed with the quality of the educational curriculum from HighReach. I really like the take home information that is included with these materials so the parents can continue to build on the knowledge at home. I can see this program being successful in centers, in home daycares, and in homeschools. My kids want Max to join us every day at circle time now. I love when the kids love to learn! Thank you HighReach Learning!
Disclosure: I received HighReach Learning materials at no charge for this review. Opinions are mine.

Spa For Ma Giveaway Hop Starting Soon

The Spa for Ma Giveaway Hop is coming soon! 
I'll be giving away some fabulous prizes right here 
on Planet Weidknecht
so be sure to mark your calendar!

Book Review: God's Promises for the American Patriot

Book Review: God's Promises for the American Patriot by Dr. Richard G. Lee and Jack Countryman. Deluxe Edition.
Beautiful Gift and Encouraging Words
Amidst this time of turmoil and corruption throughout the world, this beautiful gift book provides comfort and reassurance that God is always there for those who seek Him. Filled with Bible verses and historical documents and quotes, the authors draw correlations that offer devotional type readings to those who believe in Jesus Christ. America was built by our founding fathers who believed in our Creator, as evidenced by the things they spoke and wrote. This book draws the reader into a nostalgic place, while promoting the same ideals and values for today. The book is wonderfully written, on high quality paper, and bound as a hardback book with a padded cover. I would be proud to give this as a gift to anyone who loves God and loves America.
Disclosure: BookSneeze® has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. My opinions are true.

Review and Giveaway - Victoria Chart Company

This giveaway has ended. 
Congratulations to the Winners:
Comment 34 - Liza767@...
Comment 26 - Stacy gingeroo616@...

After a long lazy summer, families are scrambling around to get ready for another year of school. The television commercials tote long lists of what to buy for school. The newspaper ad inserts show what clothes the kids need to be cool. I was out and about this weekend and noticed the tantrums and attitudes have already begun for the new school year. Parenting definitely gets harder when we have to worry about lunchboxes, backpacks, signing school papers, checking homework, and trying to keep our children's behavior on track. The Victoria Chart Company has come up with a darling tool to help parents!
My Growing Up Chart is perfect for kids from age 4. It helps children stay focused on the positive things they should do, rather than someone always telling them what NOT to do. Two sheets of stickers allow parents to focus the child on specific tasks, like being kind, being good at bedtime, and enjoying school. There are also task stickers for those already in school, like practicing reading, practicing math, and even several blank ones for parents to assign a task. I was designing it to use with my daycare kids, so I added ones that encourage handwashing and picking up toys.
The stickers are removable, reusable, and the enclosed dry-erase marker works on the chart and the stickers. I used a baby wipe to erase an error on a sticker and it came right off. Magnets are included so it can be hung on the fridge for easy access and constant visual reminders. This package is designed for the parents to be in control of when sticker counts earn a star too! I love the encouraging praise messages this program promotes. This would be very helpful as well for children with special needs such as ADHD and Autism.
For older kids, ages 7 and up, there is a more advanced chart parents can use, called My Credit Chart, and its designed to help children focus on a happy, healthy, well-behaved life. It includes days of the week, adding in another educational element for children to learn to organize themselves and their weeks. A dry-erase marker and magnetic hangers are included in this package too. I love the rewards area at the bottom and think it would be great for parents and kids to come up with the rewards together.
I am a big advocate of positive affirmation for young children and highly recommend using these tools to eliminate the stress that comes along with back to school time. The quality is amazing and parents will be able to use these for years to come. The two charts I received are just a few of their products so be sure to check out their website. There are even mobile apps to use on the go!

The Giveaway!
The Victoria Chart Company is sponsoring a fabulous giveaway here at Planet Weidknecht. Two winners will get to choose either the My Growing Up Chart (from 4 years) or the My Credit Chart (from 7 years). For each positive task below that you complete, you'll get one entry. Leave a comment for each entry please. I'll take entries until midnight on Friday, August 19, 2011, then let random.org select the winner. Make sure you leave a way for me to contact you.

Mandatory entry:
  • Leave a comment telling me which chart you would choose as the winner.
Bonus entries (mandatory entry must be done first):
  • Visit the Victoria Chart Company website and tell me something you learned there.
  • Like the Victoria Chart Company on Facebook.
  • Follow Victoria Chart Company on Twitter.
  • Like Planet Weidknecht on Facebook.
  • Follow Planet Weidknecht on Twitter.
  • Follow Planet Weidknecht via GFC (widget on left sidebar).
  • Follow Planet Weidknecht via RSS (widget on left sidebar).
  • Follow Planet Weidknecht via email (widget on left sidebar).
  • Enter any other Planet Weidknecht giveaway and tell me which one you entered.
  • Comment on any Planet Weidknecht non-giveaway post and tell me which one.
  • Tweet this message: I just entered to #win a @VictoriaChartCo Chart at Planet @Weidknecht to help improve my child's #behavior at http://www.weidknecht.com/2011/08/review-and-giveaway-victoria-chart.html.
Lots of ways to enter! Good luck!
If you already own and use one of these awesome charts, please reply and tell me how it's helped your family.
Disclosure: I received two charts at no charge for this review. Opinions are truly mine.