Friday, March 31, 2017

Review: Talk Yourself Happy

I don't often agree to review "self help" books. Honestly, I don't like them very much. I find they mostly say the same things, I can't remember the advice later, and they don't keep my attention for very long. 

However, Talk Yourself Happy by former 700 Club host Kristi Watts got my attention, and I truly appreciated her advice. 

Here's what I liked about it. Kristi faced some incredible disappointments. And she doesn't get her life all wrapped up in a bow by the end of the book. 

I have quite a few friends right now who are going through some very challenging events in their life. And they don't need to hear about a magic formula that you can follow to find happiness again. What they all need to hear is: you can find happiness in the midst of a challenging situation. And I felt that Kristi really gave some concrete ways to help foster this in your life.

How can a person bounce back after being beaten down personally, professionally, and emotionally? Kristi was there, and came face to face with what happens when life doesn't go the way you had planned. 

This is a powerful book for those of you who have found your life completely off-track. It doesn't tell you how to get it back on-track. What it tells you is how to embrace and find God in the midst of your derailment. 

We Bought a Farm: Our WWOOFers

Our farm has been having WWOOFers staying with us. These are individuals who volunteer their time on our farm in exchange for room and board. They stay on the second floor of our garage/barn in their own room. Upstairs is also another bedroom for our personal guests. There is a shared half-finished living room and kitchen as well as a full bathroom downstairs. 

They help us on the farm for approximately 25-30 hours a week. Each WWOOFer is here for different reasons. Some are here to simply experience American culture. Others are interested in permaculture and/or organic farming and want to see if it is a good fit for them. They might be thinking of possibly buying their own farm someday.

Interested in WWOOFing with us? Please click here for more information.

#1 Dan (August-November 2015). 
Dan was from Illinois. He had just graduated from college and was seeing how permaculture might fit into what he wanted to do. Dan actually stayed with us for four months. Hannah had a huge crush on him and made us laugh so hard one day when she pulled up a chair and sat down right in front of where he was working. When we asked her what she was doing, she said, "Oh. I'm just watching Mr. Dan work." Dan was also famous for how much food he could ingest! It was seriously a sight to behold. Dan helped us get our broiler chicken "business" off the ground. We stay in touch with Dan and are so excited to see where life takes him.

Review of our farm from Dan: 
"The most important thing you can know about Bauernhof Kitsteiner is this: these are some of the nicest and best human beings you will ever meet. More specifically, John's knowledge of permaculture is truly vast and will be a valuable resource while you WWOOF at the Bauernhof, but even more valuable is his willingness and enthusiasm to share this with you in a theory and in practice. John's father, a master carpenter and all around handyman, has an equally vast amount to teach you about the practical construction skills necessary to actually carry out the permaculture projects around the farm and the same enthusiasm to share this knowledge. Wendi and John's mother will teach you everything else you need to know about life on the farm, from cooking, to cleaning, to so many other things you wouldn't even think of that are absolutely essential. John and Wendi do expect the utmost respect for their property, their Christian faith, and most importantly their children, no exceptions. Ultimately, WWOOFing here will leave you with not only an experience that will make you a better farmer, it will make you a better person. I couldn't think more highly of them."

#2 Daniel (April 2016)
Daniel had done a ton of different things including owning his own paint business and teaching chess.  He was from Arizona. Daniel was actually basically traveling all around the USA out of his car and wanted to stay in one place for awhile. Daniel was incredibly efficient at getting the animals done, did not like the cold weather, and was really good at catching snapping turtles. He taught Abigail how to play chess and really improved both of the boys' game. Such a diverse guy!

Review of our farm from Daniel: 
"Only 200 words? I'm going to have to choose my words wisely. Awesome farm, Breathtaking sunsets, Chilly mornings, Dirty work, Excellent fishing, Fantastic meals, Green pastures, Huge forest, Inky mushrooms, Jolly Neighbor, Knowledgeable Johns, Lasting memories, Mean turtles, New opportunities, Optimistic plans, Positive vibes, Quaky ducks, Rainy days, Smart kids, Tall parents, Unpleasant stink bugs, Valuable lessons, Warmhearted Christians, Xerarch me, Yellow flowers, Zebra?"

#3 Jordan (May 2016)
Jordan spent the first half of his life in Paris and the second of his life in Quebec. He loved the outdoors and nature and just wanted to travel around the USA and experience our country. Jordan was still learning English but was doing a great job. He really wanted to experience all aspects of our culture. He made Isaac an awesome birthday present, did different projects with the kids, and even cooked for us! He also found a huge guinea egg nest and an awesome video for us when he left. Jordan was so much fun, and he and our family was really sad when he left.

Review of our farm from Jordan: 
"I was curious about the Bauernhof Kitsteiner farm I was expecting to meet a family who's living in a beautiful area and had new and differents ways to think and live to share for woofers like me. And I was right, what a pleasure for me to learn in a such great and beautiful place where animals really seems to be happy in a place where taking care of the land is the most important. But I never expected to feel for a moment that I was a part of your family. Your kids have no ideas the chance they have to grow up with parents like you guys and I was really sad to leave you at the end. Thank you for all the love you gave me and I can't wait to see you again. :)""

#4 Emily (June 2016)
Emily was from New Zealand and was spending a year at the University of Idaho on a very prestigious scholarship! She was a geography and geology major which really made Isaac happy. She cooked us an amazing New Zealand dessert and took some great photos of our farm. We introduced her to Dairy Queen blizzards and the art of sarcasm. She also helped us map our woods, and really jumped into all aspects of our culture. She was incredibly sweet and just a pleasure to have here at The Bauernhof Kitsteiner. 

Review of our farm from Emily: 
"I absolutely loved my time here! As a 19 year old first time wwoofer, I felt very comfortable and welcome, and I found the work interesting, full of variety and stress-free. The Kitsteiners could not have been better hosts, they were friendly and included me in family activities, also taking me to the nearby town to experience what the area had to offer culturally. When I first arrived, I had very unexpectedly bad hayfever allergies, but they were very understanding and caring and encouraged me to rest when they could tell I was unwell. The rest of the family is lovely, the children love to talk and play games and the grandparents have a great sense of humour. This farm would suit almost any type of wwoofer, whether you are interested in permaculture, animal care, or anything else in between. I leave this farm with some great memories, having worked on a great farm with some great people, and I would do it all over again if I could :)"

#5 Eliza (June and July 2016)
Eliza currently lives in North Carolina with her long-term boyfriend, but they are looking to purchase a farm in the Pacific Northwest. She was spending the year WWOOFing to get some ideas and insight before purchasing a farm. Eliza was our oldest WWOOFer yet at 30 and she already a PhD in microbiology and immunology. I really enjoyed spending time with someone a little closer to my age! She and Isaac LOVED playing Piano Maestro together, and she did some planting in our flower beds. We look forward to staying in touch with Eliza.

Review of our farm from Eliza:
"I came to the scenic Bauernhof to study permaculture after reading John's excellent blog at I had a fantastic time here; not only did I learn a lot about practicality and application of permaculture on a homestead, I also thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the entire family. The majority of chores entails taking care of their animals and only takes a couple hours a day. However, there's a ton of other things you can do on the farm and they are always open to new ideas. I got to plant garden beds and trees along their swale, hunt for mushrooms in the forest, and herd the sheepies to new pastures. John is the strong silent type and you have to catch him when he's not busy (which is rare.) He is knowledgeable in many fields and will take the time to share with you if you are interested. Wendi, aka supermom, is always fun, friendly, and amazingly honest. The kids are awesome (assuming you catch Miss sassy-Hannah on a good day) and they will entertain you for hours. Things to beware of: ticks, blackberry thorns, poison ivy, hills, and Gramp's biting sarcasm. Trust me, it's worth it!"

#6 Deborah (left) (July 2016)

I decided to try a few younger WWOOFers. I was a little nervous about using anyone under 18 but was in a jam and had a very busy two week period that needed filling. Deborah is an almost 16 year old who is a part of our homeschool co-op. We had about a two week gap here at the farm with no WWOOFer and with broiler chickens, new layer chickens, and new turkeys around and my in-laws headed out of town, we really thought it would help to fill the void. I put a message on my homeschool board, and Deborah was able to fill the need. She did a a fantastic job and was eager to do things and do things right. She is very outgoing and boisterous and brought great creativity and personality to our farm. She was also one of the cleaner WWOOFers. We ask all of our WWOOFers to clean their room upon departure, but Deborah actually kept the upstairs apartment clean while she was here and had it very clean when Maggie (pictured at right) came in and overlapped with her for a few days.

Review of our farm from Deborah:
To read Deborah's perspective, please click here. 

#7 Maggie (July 2016)
Maggie is a soon to be high school senior. She is homeschooled, and we share an aunt and uncle. My Aunt Janet is married to her Uncle Ed. Maggie has a great love of the outdoors and animals and wanted to try out the farming life. She is truly one of the most peaceful and sweet women you could ever meet. The kids LOVED her (especially Hannah!) She was a beautiful presence on our farm.

Review of our farm from Maggie:
"Thank you for allowing me to live on your farm. You and your family were very loving and fun; I will miss all of you very much. May the Lord Bless you."

#8 David (September 2016)
David joined us for three weeks. He just graduated from high school and was looking for which direction he wanted to go with his life. He loves animals so he decided to give farming a try. He has decided that farming isn't his favorite, but he was amazing with the dogs and the kids LOVED him!

#9 Mary Ann (August thru November)
Mary Ann arrived at our farm at the end of August. She initially was going to stay about 7-10 days but then asked if she could stay until first snow. We honestly think of her like Mary Poppins. She gets SOOO much done, barely makes a peep, and is simply an amazing force here on the property. She is in her 60's but truly can do what most 40 year olds can do without a problem. We were so blessed when she stayed with us until November. She was pure joy here on the farm.

Review of our farm from Mary Ann: 
The rustling of the Sudan sorghum and your resident Mockingbird are beautiful memories from Bauernhof Kitsteiner. And from beautiful people it's not a coincidence. You all have etched a special place on my heart. I'm so grateful to you all and God for a wonderful time and such an educational experience.  WWOOFing with children adds a very special joy.

#10 Shelby (End of September thru early November 2016)
Shelby was actually a friend of mine in the Azores. Her husband, Lane, just got out of the military, and they are taking a year off before starting real life up again. Shelby works part-time as a graphic designer from home so she is working while here on the farm. She was here for two weeks by herself, and her husband Lane joined us for two of those weeks. Shelby is one of the sweetest people I have ever met, and we will be friends for life!

Review of our farm from Shelby:
What a treat this has been! I am so grateful for your hospitality and open arms. You guys are incredible and what you are doing here is inspiring and special. I'm surprised to be laving with fewer thoughts about farming than about family and parenting and homeschooling and hospitality and church. Thanks for taking us in and giving us a front row seat -- again! I miss you all already and WILL be back."

#11 Dawn (October 9-16, 2016)
Dawn found us through JB's website, and is just going to be here for just one week. She is an engineer, and actually came here for her vacation to learn more about our farm and permaculture! I said "you gave up your vacation for us?" And she said, "I didn't give it up! I'm here!" So sweet and a real favorite of Hannah. (Hannah cried HARD when Dawn left.) We really hope Dawn comes back for more farming adventures.

Review of our farm from Dawn: 
"Thank you for sharing your home and family with me. I really enjoyed being here and getting to take care of the animals. Sidge, Isaac, Abigail, and Hannah, I loved playing with you all."

#12 Lane (October 2016)
Shelby's husband Lane joined us for about two weeks here on the farm. He was fantastic in helping us with cleaning up our fencing and some other things that needed a "man's" touch. :) He also did a lot of scouting of the deer to let us know where they are living so we can hopefully get one when hunting season begins! Lane brought a lot of life and humor to our farm.

#13 Leah (November 2016)
Leah was lucky #13 here at the Bauernhof, and she was also our first strict vegetarian which was a bit of a risk for me, as I always worried how I would feed a vegetarian since we are a farm that is raising meat. But Leah was a fantastic cook and took care of most of her own food (and made some yummy dishes for us too!) Leah was living the typical stylish life in New York City with a degree and a good job when she decided to take a year and explore farming. Boy are we glad she did. What a fantastic time we had during her 2.5 week stay. We only wish she could have stayed longer. To read more about Leah, you can click here

Review of our farm from Leah:
"I have nothing but positively GLOWING things to say about this family and this farm. I felt warmly welcomed from the moment I arrived (just as a pig was giving birth!), and my weeks here were enriching in an astounding multitude of ways, including so much practical education (on holistic management, permaculture, animal husbandry, the economics of family farming, and more) AND so many deep chats and compassionate exchanges of lifestyle perspectives, plus plenty of lighthearted play with the whole family (including four spunky kids). The work was totally reasonable -- Wendi made sure to tell me from the start that she wanted my contributions to bring me genuine joy, and both and she and John were always open to my questions, my interests, my point of view .... and even my vegetarian cooking! Bonus points: stunning location, cozy accommodations in a private room, and a flexible schedule, with brief spurts of work spread throughout the day. This is a must-WWOOF particularly if you're interested in ethical animals husbandry and permaculture principles, or if you're looking for a true cultural exchange with a loving family, but there's something for everyone here -- honestly, my richest WWOOF experience to date."

#14 Jacob (December 2016)
Jacob came for the month of December, and ended up staying much longer. All said and done he will be here for well over half the year. Jacob is an incredibly intelligent guy who could take care of our farm for weeks at a time with no problem. He's amazing, and life would be so much more hectic without him here.

"If you are a first-time woofer who is interested in permaculture and loves animals this is THE farm to visit. The Kitsteiners are exceedingly accommodating, good for a chat and their kids and grandparents are fun, too. Oh, and there farm is cool too and always improving. The daily chores are manageable, leaving you time to explore, read, start projects, spend time with the animals, or visit a nearby attraction. Jon is both patient and intelligent and if you wish to talk to him about something, he will find a way to fit you into his schedule which says a lot, I think. There is so much to learn from him so don't waste this opportunity. Read up on a question and fire away, he usually knows something helpful. If you are interested in pigs, laying chickens, and katahdin hair sheep this is the farm for you. Seasonally, the farm runs broilers and turkeys. You'll like it here."

#15 Peter (January 2016)
Peter and Tymen came in on the same day. Peter was just with us for one week -- an exchange student from China studying in the USA. While his visit was short, we so enjoyed getting to share our cultures with each other. He was a true joy and a country music fanatic!

Review of our farm from Peter:
The word wonderful is apparently not wonderful enough to describe John and Wendi. They agreed to have me stay on their farm for only one week, mainly for cultural experiences. I’m grateful for everything they treated me with, including tasty snacks of all kinds, pills when I accidentally caught a fever, sturdy and warm boots that prevented me from the mud, and must-try sandwiches in a nearby farmer market. I’m not the best at speaking English, but they showed great patience and understandings in presence of language barriers and cultural shocks. 

They own a large and hilly property that offers a natural spot for working out. Walking around alone is good exercise here, let alone all those pigs, ducks, geese, chickens, goats and fences to take care of. Unfortunately my stay here is too short to allow me to go up the hill to adventure with them, but I truly think it'll be super cool! 

Another thing to mention is that as a physician who worked as a graphic designer and joined the Air Force and now runs a farm, John is a walking Wikipedia you’ll enjoying talking with and learning abundant knowledge from. Faithful Christians as they are, controversial issues in society are something they never avoid discussing about, from which you can feel their open-mindedness and intelligence. What’s more, their lovely kids showed good manners and John’s parents are just as interesting and nice as they are -- Ray is a laid-back grandpa who loves joking, while Mary is a sweet grandma who loves Ray's jokes. I did enjoy my time here with the whole big family and two other workawayers, Tyman from Netherlands and Jacob.

In a word, if you are considering paying a visit here, don’t hesitate to! They are exactly the type of the best hosts you could ever imagine!

#16 Tymen 
Tymen was with us for a month, and then returned before heading back home for another week. He is from the Netherlands, and I agreed to host a second WWOOFer (overlapping with Jacob) because he wanted to do outdoor heavy labor. And boy did he! He helped us with so much fence and tree removal. He was also Hannah's first crush -- she was absolutely addicted to Tymen. He spoke incredible English, and we really hope he'll get to visit us again someday.

Review of our farm from Tymen:
My stay on the farm was fantastic. John and Wendi are very nice people who make sure you have everything you need to help out on the farm. I learned a lot during my stay, and whenever I had a question or needed help, there was always some family member willing to assist/provide an answer. They already have a lot of experience with volunteers, so they know the ins and outs of hosting volunteers on their farm. I would definitely recommend this place for it's beautiful scenery, opportunities to learn new things, and the supportiveness of the family that lives there. 

#17 Amy
I actually really like this picture of Amy. She is a very private person so I sort of felt like too close of a picture would be a little too much for her. While Amy describes herself as shy, I actually think she isn't as shy deep down inside and will be continuing to shine more and more. She is one of the nicest young women I have ever met, and I would love to have her live at our farm FOREVER! She was an incredible worker and actually perfected the fence moving -- a rarity in the land of WWOOFers. I cannot say enough good things about her!

Review of our farm from Amy:
"Getting to know this family was a treasure that I will hold dear for the rest of my life. They are all very kind and gifted. The land itself is magical. John, his family and we the wwoofers are transforming it into a healthy productive site. While I was there, I mainly helped care for the animals but there is plenty of other things to work on if you so desire. The most satisfying skill I learned was how to set up a temporary paddock and move the sheep every few days (managed grazing). If you want to learn about permaculture this is the place. Get ready to be inspired!!!!"

For more information on becoming a WWOOFer on our farm, you can visit JB's website here.
Click here for a great list of "Do's and Don'ts" for WWOOFers. 

Greeneville TN: Activities for Elementary Aged Children

I am starting to compile a list of fun things to do with your elementary aged children in an around Greeneville, TN ('m trying to stay within one hour of Greeneville). If you have something you'd like me to visit and consider adding, please leave a comment! All places listed are places I have personally visited. And check back often as I will be updating this page regularly!

My friend Karen invited us to Darrell's Dream Playground at Warrior State Park in Kingsport, TN. This park is one of the best parks we have ever been to in any city or state or country. It is absolutely fabulous. It is a unique one-of-a-kind play area that provides fun and learning opportunities for children of all ages and all abilities. Special features include:
  • a universally accessible playground equipment and surfaces
  • a walking trail and an environmental maze with interactive play stations
  • an amphitheater
  • a picnic pavilion
  • specially designed restroom facilities
  • pedestrian bridge
  • tots play area specifically designed for ages 2-5
  • adventure island specifically designed for ages 5-12
  • sand island which is designed to allow wheelchairs to roll right up to the table
  • The Lions Narnia Braille Trail which features eight sensory stations along a quarter-mile wheelchair accessible Braille trail. You can read the words visually, through Braille, or press a button to listen
  • a tree house
  • and much more!
My four kiddos (ages 2, 4, 6, and 7 at the time of this writing) played for 2.5 hours without stopping! There was something for all of them, and they were not ready to go home. We will definitely be visiting this park again. 

In addition, the park is nestled within a State Park which has camping, a golf course, Frisbee golf, hiking, birding, fishing, horseback riding and much more.

Address: 390 Hemlock Park / Kingsport, TN
Contact Email: 
Phone: 423-956-4330
The front entrance to the park. One of the first things you do is enter through a "wardrobe." The entire park is set up to imitate the books: The Chronicles of Narnia and they even had a wardrobe with coats!

A look at about half of the park. It is very large. That is probably the only "negative" to the park. There is no perimeter fence so you have to be keeping your eyes open -- especially if you have more than one child.

Check it out! That's the Beaver's home from Narnia!

A little playhouse for kids to perform and watch. No details was spared.

This is a Christian "retreat center" where you can do more things than you can possibly imagine. They have Summer camps or you can just come with your family and get away. There are cabins to stay in and just fun to be had all around. I cannot recommend this place strong enough. SUCH FUN! And SUCH BEAUTY. Click here to read my post on this outstanding place. 

Without a doubt, one of our very favorite things to do within an hour of our home is Dollywood! Located at 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd, this is a full amusement park with a cozy and small-town feel. We got season passes, and here are some of the things we learned during our first year as season pass holders:
  • Go to the park on a weekday when school is in session.
  • Get to the park at 9:15. This allows you to get into the park and be ready to go when it opens. We have never seen crowds between 9-12 -- even on very busy days.
  • One ride that seems to get a line no matter how crowded the park is that day is the Rockin' Roadway. Do that ride first. (Do it a couple of times since it is very popular with young children.)
  • One challenging part of the park is that the area with the roller coasters is mostly just that and there aren't a lot of things for little kids to do in that area. Take advantage of two little playground parks (one by Firechaser and one over by Thunderhead and Riverchaser (water ride) so that your little kids have something to do while the big kids are riding the coasters. 
  • If it is hot, Daredevil Falls and River Rampage are great fun as is the Riverchaser ride.
  • The new roller coaster: Lightning Rod is TERRIFYING. Honestly the scariest ride I have ever been on.
  • The roller coasters at this park are INTENSE. The little kids one in The County Fair is great and the next easiest is Firechaser. But even that one is a bit scary!
  • The County Fair is our favorite place. This has tons of ride for the whole family with very few height restrictions.
  • The BBQ up by the bird show is our favorite place to eat.
  • The bird show is great! We've done it many, many times.
  • You have to see the Bald Eagles. (This is the largest display of the birds in their natural habitat in the world!)
  • Bring in your own water bottles and fill them up at drinking fountains to save money on drinks. I also pack kid snacks. They check my bag before I go in and no one has told me I can't do this.
  • You HAVE to try to the cinnamon bread at The Grist Mill
Here are some past posts I wrote featuring pictures of our time at the park

This was an incredible event that is in Pigeon Forge, TN. I strongly suggest that you put this on your "to do" list. It isn't cheap so it has to be a very special occasion, but it was great fun for the WHOLE family. I really think the adults enjoyed it as much as the kiddos! Click here to read about our experience at Dixie Stampede.

We have had a blast at our church's annual community Fall picnic at Fender's Farm. I wrote a post and shared some pictures and videos here. This is a GREAT Fall activity for your family. It is especially great if you have children ages 3-12 as they have all kinds of cool things for your kiddos to do!

Fit4Life farm is a family owned and operated farm in Limestone, TN that offers all sorts of indoor and outdoor activities encouraging people to get fit and stay healthy. They specialize in CrossFit and youth soccer but can host group events. This is a great place, and I wrote a post you can read about them here.

My kids love the Hands on! Regional Museum in Johnson City. We actually decided to become members of this museum. This is a fantastic places for kids ages 2 and up. I did an entire post featuring pictures from one of our trips to the Museum which you can check out by clicking here. 

Located at 2304 Silverdale Drive #600 in Kingsport, TN, this is an incredibly fun place to go. It is a bit pricey, and is therefore a splurge for us, but something we will probably splurge on every few months. We paid for two hours, and all four of my kids had a BLAST and got such incredible exercise. What a great time!

I love that while the town we live in is VERY small, we can get culture within a 30 minute drive. The Niswonger Performing Arts Center offers a wide variety of educational and artistic performances for our whole family. I have taken the children many times to different performances including a historical retelling of Pocahontas and a ballet and performance by Flamenco dancers. 

Ruth Kross was my middle school history teacher. Well she was JB's too. In fact, our families go back even farther than that as she went to school with my Dad in Illinois. But all that to say, she moved to Greeneville quite a few years before I did. She actually wrote a book about a church here in rural Tennessee which you can find on Amazon: The Tree in the Churchyard. When Ruth and her husband relocated to Greeneville, she started tours of the downtown area and some of the history behind this small community. Ruth took the children and I on a downtown tour to show us some of the highlights. This tour is one you can do yourself, and I encourage you to try it! You can read more about what we did by clicking here.

My kids LOVE this place. Wallabies is in Johnson City, TN. Kids 12 and under can play for an unlimited amount of time. It is not cheap, but they do offer the ability to buy a card with ten visits that drops the cost. I do suggest calling ahead to make sure that there is not a school group or field trip there, but otherwise, it has never been too crowded for us. Very fun times!

Friday Funnies

Abigail: "Hannah fell off the chair."
Hannah: "No I didn't. I was getting down and I just fell." 


Hannah: "Can I have some more ice cream Mommy?"

Me: "No it is all gone."
Hannah: "Well than can I just one bite of your's?"
Me: "Absolutely not."

We are Never Alone

To my friends going through things bigger than anyone should have to face. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Review: My Toddlers App, LLC

I recently stumbled upon an incredibly fun app opportunity for parents of toddlers and was so excited when they agreed to allow me to review one of their programs in exchange for my honest review. There are actually four different available all from My Toddlers App, LLC. I used these with my three-year-old daughter Hannah. I think you could easily use the app with children ages 2-5. 

The four different programs include:

This is a USA family owned and operated company. It was actually inspired by the creator's granddaughter. He watched her operating an ipad so easily and wanted to make the "teacher" for these programs the child's family instead of some random cartoon character. 

MTA FAMILY allows the parent to add a family member's photo and voice to teach a toddler to associate a person's name and how it is spelled with that person. The family member's voice will tell their toddler how to spell their name while it displays across the screen one letter at a time. There is also no limit to how many people you enter in the family section of the program. This means that you can add tons of friends and family to this program on behalf of the child.

Each of the apps provides a great video which goes through step by step instructions for setting the program up. I was confused about a few parts but was so impressed with the video and customer service in helping me figure out how to fix what I was doing wrong. Here is a video for the MTA FAMILY app.

MTA ANIMALS allows the family to choose from over 40 animals to present to their toddler. I recorded my voice telling Hannah how to spell the animal name while it displayed across the screen one letter at a time. After I am done reading it, Hannah can click on the name of the animal and listen to what sound the animal makes.

MTA READER is so cool! I can read a book and record it into the program. Then Hannah just touches the book cover on their main screen to listen to me reading the book. I especially want to have my far away relatives read books that Hannah can listen to in the future.

MTA MATCH is the traditional match game all kids play with individualized pictures. I can put pictures of animals on our farm or family members, and Hannah then matches them!
You can visit My Toddlers App, LLC on Facebook and on YouTube. I love that this company is just a family like us, and really encourage EVERYONE to help support what they are doing. It is a simple idea that will leave a huge smile plastered across your child's face!

Made up Spring

March 20th was the first day of Spring. However, there is still snow on the ground and my coat still feels like a second skin.

After being cooped up for 4 months, I can't wait to be able to go outside to enjoy the fresh air and the pretty flowers. I'm beyond ready for Spring, but it seems Spring is not ready for me. I certainly can't do a thing about the weather but I can bring Spring into my home.

So, I bought some flowers, made a colorful and springy pillow cover for my living room, and invited some girlfriends over to make Spring wreaths. Not only did I have a wonderful time, but also, I feel a lot less frustrated about the long winter and super excited about the Spring! If you feel like me, I encourage you to made up your own Spring until the real one decides to show up! :)

                            Happy Spring!



*Please note that content in guest blogs is not necessarily shared by the station manager (i.e. Wendi!)