Trading in my digital video monitor for a safer analog audio monitor

When I came across a conversation on Facebook on the Nourishing Our Children page about baby monitors and their safety concerns, I was absolutely shocked.

I had no idea that my baby monitor emitted microwave radiation to my precious baby’s brain. I am absolutely appalled — how could these be legal?!  (Some cell phone towers built too close to schools are becoming illegal.)  I am especially sensitive, as I did not have an ultrasound scan during either of my pregnancies and I don’t own a microwave because I have read about their dangers. How could I not have known about this?!

Out with the “old” and in with the “new”

When I found all of this out, at about 11pm one night, I couldn’t sleep — my baby was already asleep, so I could not go in to turn the monitor off.  The next day, I decided to stop living in the guilt and just move forward. I went to Target and bought an analog audio monitor that has only 40mHz. This is compared to the 2.4 GHz digital video monitor that we were using (can you imagine, 2400 mHz?!) I could be so, so upset about it, but I am trying to remain calm. I am trying to live and learn and move on.

According to The Healthy Home Economist’s informative article: “The long term effects of microwave radiation on children’s developing brains is completely unknown” and parents are “increasingly taking precautions to minimize their children’s exposure to any sort of microwave technology.”

Also, an article from the Wired Child explains the level of radiation of certain technologies through a chart — from cell phones to microwaves to lap tops to baby monitors.  This has really been an eye-opener.

In addition to getting a new analog monitor, and keeping it as far away from her sweet, growing brain as possible, I have made other changes, not only for my children with their still-developing brains, but also for my and my husband’s safety:

  • I try to use a hands-free device for my cell phone
  • Keep my cell phone (which is not a smart phone) as far from the kids as possible
  • Turn off cell phone at night (and never leave it next to your bedside!)
  • When using lap top, use a hard surface so it isn’t on my lap (especially if pregnant!)
  • Turn off Wi-Fi at night

Do I really need a baby monitor?

My two and a half  year old son doesn’t need a monitor. I was continuing to use his from babyhood (another digital video monitor, but thankfully, this one was less exposure at 900mHz.) I enjoyed watching him on it, while he read his books at night, and in the morning when he first woke up. But this was not necessary. If he needs us at night, he knows he can knock loudly on his door and we will come running. (We have a child safety lock on his door because he would not stay in his room at night.)

My daughter doesn’t need a video monitor. As much as I would love to see that little snuggle-bug all the time, it is not necessary and CERTAINLY it is not worth risking her health. I am absolutely sick that I sacrificed her little brain. My only saving grace is that I only started using the monitor about two months ago because, before that, I would sleep in the twin bed with her in her room.

(I have since moved upstairs with my husband because he missed me — and I missed him — and because our king bed is so much more comfortable! I still fall asleep with her a lot — either at night or in the middle of the night, but for my sanity, I need to sleep apart from her so I can actually be comfy and get some good rest.)

She is a pretty sound sleeper, only getting up once a night, but sometimes twice. However, her little cries are so little and quaint that they are impossible to hear — this is the complete opposite from my son’s robust and huge scream. She will fuss, but it is hardly audible and you come running and she has tears streaming down her cheeks! It breaks my heart when I don’t hear her for a couple of minutes. Of course, co-sleeping would be safest, in terms of radiation exposure, but as I said earlier, I need my rest and that is just not the way I can get it.

So we have settled on the much safer analog audio monitor.  And I make sure to turn it off when she is not sleeping.  (And the price was right at $19.99 compared with $189.99 for our second video monitor!)

Some may call my outrage crazy. Just another “Amy loon episode.” I don’t care. We must make these things known. In a world of smart phones and cell phones and microwaves and brain cancer — nothing is sacred — not even the little baby monitor we use to hear our baby’s sweet cries at night, but we must continue to learn!

Let me know what you think!  Is this news to you?  What are your gut reactions?

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Paint a Pot & Plant a Plant

Learning through nature, art, and responsibility

My son has been helping me weed and garden these past weeks.  We have been working on our beds, but we are also prepping our pots and flower boxes for annuals.  I wanted him to have a plant of his own to take care of.  And since our annuals won’t be going in their pots for a few more weeks (we had a frost last week!), I wanted to give him a plant for now!  He fell in love with the sweet Lamb’s Ears plant — “They are so soft!”

We had a rogue Lamb’s Ear growing by my Irises and Echinacea, so I knew this was the perfect plant just for him.

We picked out a pot to paint.


And he got to painting.  At first he wanted to only paint the inside, but I had to show him that the plant and dirt would be going in, so he painted the outside too.  I was impressed by his painting job!


He was so excited to dig up his little plant. He took the shovel and got to work.  I had to help him get all the roots, though!  He thought the bottom tray was a top! DSC04094


He was super excited, even though his expression is so serious!  This was such a fun way to combine art with nature.  He did it all himself and he was very proud. His plant it sitting in our kitchen and he has to water it once a week, teaching him a little responsibility!


Make sure to head over to Teach Beside Me to see all of the wonderful Blog Posts about Spring Learning & Play! And you can participate in the Blog Hop over there too!

Here is the line up:


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Treasure Bin: Blue Wooden Objects

What is a Treasure Bin?

A small amount (5 to 10) of similar items to put in front of your growing baby and let him/her explore!

Ensure that the items are safe to babies (no choking hazards or sharp edges) and that your baby is supervised at all times!

This week, I wanted to include only wooden objects.  May loved all of her blue wooden objects and also loved playing with the bin.  We keep her bin under the couch and I take it out a couple of times a day.  Most of the items included in her bin are from Melissa & Doug wooden toys.

My first post about Treasure Bins is here.

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And here is my sweet girl with her Treasure Bin.


And finding new objects from her bin to explore!


Sweet girl loves her little bins.  She is such a big girl!


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a beautiful magnolia tree

Watching the springtime bloom brings me so much joy. Spring is, by far, my favorite season.  My love for flowers started five years ago, in my new home, with my new husband.  I was in a place I could call my own and cultivate for my own enjoyment and beauty.  That first year, I began planting like crazy.  I have had many bumps in the road — and moles-hills in our lawn — but overall, I love the dirt and I love it in my fingernails.

I have a wonderful flower garden now, and enjoy weeding and watching, especially with a sweet baby on my back and a sweet boy running around me.  Last year was our first real vegetable garden, so this year, I hope we harvest, and weed, a bit more.  We also have many perennials and bulbs, so I always have a new flower to cut and put on my kitchen table every week.

This spring has been especially wonderful, for two reasons: my little boy loves watching things grow alongside me and I have my new camera to help me capture these beautiful growing moments. This tree — which is technically in my wonderful neighbors’ yard — is my absolute favorite.  I wish it bloomed year-round, but maybe its two weeks of beauty a year is why I love and cherish it so much.

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What spring blossoms are your favorite? Do you have any photography tips or blog posts to share with me? I’d love to read them! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. ♥

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Daddy’s little girl

Before we knew we were having a daughter, our house was all boy — since having our sweet baby girl, our family not only became complete, but she brought a gentleness with her that has changed the way both my husband and I parent.

My husband began having weekly lunches with one of our pastors a couple of months back. Our pastor is very dear to my family — he spoke at my brother’s funeral, he married my husband and I, and he has baptized our children. He and Marshall began reading a small little book by John Eldredge. Marshall and I have both read Eldredge’s Wild at Heart, a book about manhood that we both recommend very highly, and I have read Captivating, a book for women, which was written by John and his wife Stasi.

And our pastor introduced a new book by Eldredge: You Have What It Takes.  They began reading it during their lunches together, this small book helps fathers become the Hero in their children’s lives.  It is accessible, at all of $2.49 and 60ish small pages.

This book is perfect for the man in your life who desires to follow God’s teaching for the true meaning of fatherhood.  My husband is not a “How-To” book reader — he did not read any birth or parenting books that I ever put in front of him, even though I read at least 10 of each — but he read  You Have What it Takes.  It is what he needed to read — a tiny book that he could spend very little time on, but connect with on a spiritual level.

It is a call to men, to fathers, telling them, “Only you, Dad, can help your children find the answer to these questions”:

Boys need to know: Do I have what it takes?

Girls need to know: Am I lovely?


And isn’t that the truth? I can only speak as a girl, now a woman. One thing I remember, despite not having the most ideal childhood, coming from a divorced home, is that my dad, every time he saw me, told me I was beautiful. He would hug me — even, and especially, if I didn’t want him to — and whisper “You’re so beautiful.”

That meant something. Everything to me. Children deserve fathers who will give them their heart’s desire.  Little girls need a daddy to tell them they are lovely — especially during and after puberty.  And I needed that.  They need to know that they are of immeasurable worth.  That they don’t need to wear makeup, wear immodest clothing, watch inappropriate movies and videos, seek boys’ undeserving attention, the list goes on.  I believe a father can have a drastic impact on a girl’s self-worth and long-term commitment to saving herself for God and for her marriage.

I have never doubted that my husband would father a boy with knowledge and integrity and strength.  I did not know how it would be with a girl.  But now that I see the two of them together, my heart melts.

I am so thankful that she has a daddy who tells her she is beautiful and lovely every single day of her life.
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My Joy-Filled Life

{Early Literacy Stage 2} Tactile Uppercase Letter Writing

The development of early literacy skills progresses in stages.  Beginning concepts should be taught before introducing more difficult ones.  By following a proper developmental progression, we assist the child’s natural learning capabilities.   This is why I have decided to write a series about {Early Literacy Stages}.  These stages will all inter-mingle with one another, but it is important to define them, and I recommend introducing them in this order.


Here are the Early Literacy Stages for childhood learning:

  1. Uppercase letter recognition

  2. Tactile uppercase letter writing

  3. Utensil prewriting and uppercase letter writing

  4. Lowercase letter recognition (and matching uppercase with lowercase letters)

  5. Lowercase phonetic sounds

  6. Lowercase letter writing

The entire scope of literacy includes the following: reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and representing.  I am focusing on reading letters and writing letters for this series.  However, the other components are very important in developing the whole child towards literacy and becoming a lifelong learner.

Please note: I do not label these stages by age — I have met 18-month-olds who have learned all of their upper and lowercase letters and I have taught 5-year-olds who were still struggling to learn both.  It is important to meet the learner where they are and embrace the child’s pace!

Please see my {Early Literacy Stage 1} to read about why I am teaching uppercase letters first.

How do we further develop uppercase letter recognition through tactile experiences?

1.   Read, read, read!  This was my first suggestion for my first stage of learning as well.  A child must have experiences with books morning, day, and night.  Reading to your child opens them up to a world of imagination and developmental readiness towards print awareness and learning.  Here are more suggestions to promote tactile exploration in book reading:


2.  Use shaving cream on your tabletop: experiment with prewriting straight and curved lines by first showing your child how to write with his/her pointer finger.  The goal is exposure and not perfection!


This is my son exploring shaving cream, but when he is ready, he will use his pointer finger and try to write his letters.

3.   Put a shallow amount of sand or sugar in a bin: prewrite straight lines and curved lines and write the letter with a finger.  


Here is a friend working with blue sand in her outdoor water table.

4.   Tape a squishy bag to a table top or window and have the child write straight and curved lines and the letter with a finger.


5.  Use a push-pin-pen with a letter page and poke the letter to get a feel for its straight and curved lines.   Small push-pins are not safe for children to use, but I love this concept, so I taped a push pin to a marker very securely.   You can get these sheets from Confessions of a Homeschooler individually, by letter, or you can print the uppercase letters from Alphabet Printables.


6.  Use Do-A-Dot markers to write the letter.  Here are some awesome printables and ideas from Confessions of a Homeschooler.


7.  Learn how letters are built using alphabet letter templates.  This is an advanced step and should be taken closer to when you think your child is ready to begin writing uppercase letters — this will also be a part of my {Early Literacy Stage 3}: Utensil prewriting and uppercase letter writing.

All of the alphabet letters include either straight lines, diagonal lines, and/or big and little curves and these awesome letter builders help children to grasp the parts of the letters.  You can buy wooden ones from the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum.  I love their no-fuss approach to handwriting.  They recommend the following schedule for learning to print letters:

  • Vertical & Horizontal Lines: L, F, E, H, T, I, U
  • Magic C: C, O, Q, G, S, J
  • Big & Little Curves: D, P, B
  • Diagonal Lines: R, K, A, V, M, N, X, Y, Z


These templates can be found for free from the following two sites — I made mine out of colorful paper-foam: Build-A-Letter Templates (includes mats) from Tired, Need Sleep Blog or Magnetic Alphabet Builders from Confessions of a Homeschooler.

How have you taught your child the alphabet?  What tactile experiences have you used to help your child learn and write letters?

See {Early Literacy Stage 1}

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Cloth diapers: How to wash them so they are actually clean

I have been cloth diapering for over two and a half years now.  I have cleaned my fair share of diapers.  So this advice is legit.  DSC03088 I will first start off with saying that I have well water and I have a top loader Our water is full of iron and minerals and who knows what else.  Therefore, I had to try a lot in order to get the perfect wash routine.  And as for a top loader vs. a front loader — don’t you need water to get things clean?  I don’t understand how the “energy efficient” washers work — and in my experience, at my mother in law’s house, they don’t work all that well.

What didn’t work: Allen’s Naturally and Rockin’ Green (yes, even the Funk Rock).

What I am using now: This is not a “recommended” brand, but it has gotten my diapers cleaner and brighter and whiter than they have ever been.

Tide Free and Gentle!

DSC02241 Here is my down and dirty routine:

  1. The child goes in the diaper.  If it is pee, I throw it in my hamper with a diaper pail liner (I use a white trash can that has a foot pedal).  If it is solid, I dump it into the toilet or use some toilet paper to scrape it into the toilet, then it goes into the hamper.  (A diaper sprayer did not work from me, it sprays the stuff all over = gross.) 
  2. Once my diaper pail is full, I bring the diaper pail liner down to the basement and throw it all in the washer (I have a beloved top loader (I really don’t know how a front loader, energy efficient washer gets these diapers clean!!)  I cold rinse.
  3. I hot wash, cold rinse with 1/8 cup detergent – a little goes a long way!  (I only have the option to cold rinse, but I would hot rinse if I could!  Then I might cut one of the rinses!)
  4. I hot wash, cold rinse with nothing.
  5. I dry in the dryer (gasp!) on low.

DSC02247 “Stripping” your diapers once every month or two should be part of your regular routine — this is because your diapers may be getting leaky due to build-up or they just may need a good sterilizing:

  1. Add 1/4 tsp dish soap and 1/4 cup bleach to your hot wash, cold rinse with detergent
  2. Continue to hot wash, cold rinse until there are no more suds in the washer.  (About 5-8 times.)


 Happy diapering and washing!
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cloth diaper blogs

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Tot School – Letter K

We spent two weeks on Letter K — a week of keys, kangaroos, koalas, and kittens.


I recently wrote a guest post at Hammock Tracks on How I Make Tot Trays.  Check it out!

We focus on a letter every week and do fun activities based on that letter.  I set six “Tot Trays” up for my son to play with and learn as the week progresses.

Lately, I have been feeling overwhelmed by the Tot Tray Switch when we change our letter of the week — which is about every two weeks. I keep finding so many fantastic ideas from so many amazing mama bloggers that I want to do them all. I went along with it for a while, to try to bust out massive creativeness every couple weeks, but it was too much.  I want to keep things simple and consistent and have now found a nice balance for making my son’s tot trays.

I had a six-tray set-up in the kitchen, with six trays from Oriental Trading.  Promoting the four Montessori principles: Language, Mathematics, Sensory, and Practical Life.


I decided to only put out one tray this time.  I still put them all together at the beginning of my letter switch (and put them on the top of a bookshelf), but have only given him one on his shelf at a time.  This has really helped with keeping my son’s interest.  We play it together for two days and I leave it out on our shelf for him to play independently for a day or two.  Then we will move on to the next one that I have made.

It is important to follow your child’s lead for learning!

It looks empty!  Some children would thrive with all six trays, keeping them orderly and setting them back up after playing with one.  But my son needed less in front of him.  He came over to a single tray — in three days — more times than when he had all six trays on the shelf to choose from.  This was a Montessori lesson for me!  Children thrive with less choice and they will be creative and engage themselves with less!


Popsicle stick shapes from Moms Have Questions Too.


Filling in shapes with blocks (a great mathematics and spatial activity!) from All Our Days.  I couldn’t believe how much John loved this.  We did all the cards in one sitting and he kept asking to do it again.  I got the little cubes, that don’t fit perfectly but they work, from the Dollar Store.  They are small, so we could only do this when the baby was sleeping or not playing with us.

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I saw this fun magnet stick from Memorizing the Moments and wanted to get one!  It was $2.99 at Amazon!  A fun introduction to magnetism!  (Disclosure: there are affiliate links in this post.)

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John does not really like to “lace”, no matter how often I promote it or put a lacing card out.  But Michelle at Delightful Learning had such a fun idea — to get these links and put them in the holes — John loved this!!

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Practicing his colors. I cut his color cards out and put them on his tray with the corresponding colored crayon. He loved it again this week!  We have these Crayola triangular crayons which I love and are worth the extra dollar.


Math work with 1:1 correspondence using pom-pom magnets.



I made this schedule to organize our Tot School time, according to the Montessori principles: Language, Mathematics, Sensory, and Practical Life.


You can read my post about it and download the free Tot School Planning Form here.


Bible verse of the week:

Be kind to one another.  Ephesians 4:32

We had a lot of use out of this bible verse this week!

We use the ABC bible verse songs from Songs for Saplings.  These songs are so catchy, beautiful, not “children’s music annoying,” and I find myself singing and learning and memorizing the bible verses along with John.  Carisa at 1plus1plus1equals1 has made coordinating ABC Bible Verses posters which have really helped with his memorization as well.  

We put up our bible verse, a Kk small poster from Tot School, a Kk sign from my Kindergarten teaching days, and these wonderful Montessori sandpaper letters.  We put these up on the wall so he could feel the letter every morning and trace his fingers on the letter.


Letter of the week: Kk

Our curriculum consists of 1plus1plus1equals1‘s Tot School ABC’s.

John has really gotten the hang of tracing!!  We do this with dry erase markers and heavy duty sheet protectors.  Erasing is a handy practical life skill as well!

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Do-A-Dot markers on his K is for Keys pages.  I was fiddling with my camera and got a very shaky shot.


Stickers on his Letter K.  This is a great way to learn “inside” and “outside” too — he kept joking that he was going to put a sticker outside the K — he thought it was a hoot.

DSC03996 Shadow matching his keys and Kk.DSC03994 The K was a real breakthrough with the puzzle.  He understood that there is a circle around the picture that needs to be connected!  He did this several times without help!DSC03991

Letter Review:

We reviewed all of our letters so far with their bible verses.


And we watched LeapFrog Letter Factory with his magnet board and all his uppercase letters so far.


Book of the week:

The Little Kitten by Phoebe and Judy Dunn


My son loves all of these books.  The whole series is so wonderful.  The photographs are stunning and they always have a cute and believable storyline about a young child and their journey with a lovable little animal.  This book focused on a little girl and her little kitten named Pickle.


  • I set a new Schleich kitten out in our sensory bin (which is below) and John slept with him every night.
  • We made sure to read the book at least twice a day.
  • We focused on vocabulary and manners in the book.


Working with his Magneatos.  This is a battleship (Dad has some influence here) : )
DSC03501Thinking about what to build next.  This really was a magnet week!DSC03500
 And John loved his pattern blocks and the free pattern block puzzles that I downloaded and printed from PreKinders!
A yellow split pea letter K sensory bin
He loved all of the animals in this bin and decided to just put them to sleep in their “soft bed”. : )



We cut out some simple kangaroos from my Abeka craft books — he loved them and carried them around the house everywhere.  I had wanted to make this amazing kangaroo and pouch from Simply Home, but decided that we would do it when he is older, when we do My Father’s World for Kindergarten, or I just didn’t find the time to craft these past two weeks — these two are keeping me on my toes — and it has been way too nice to stay cooped up inside for long!

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I hope you have a wonderful week,

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Thank you for featuring me! ♥

I was featured for Tot School!

Tender Moments Linkup at For This Season

wordless wednesday: visiting the farm


John loves taking -almost daily- walks to the farm down our road.  We are so thankful to live next to a real -humane- farm and to experience beautiful nature in our backyard.  ♥

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