We are a blended family with 5 wonderful adult children, 1 amazing Golden Retriever, 1 Goldfish, 5 grand dogs and 2 grand cats. Getting everyone together for the holidays or anytime during the year is an impossible feat! We have a daughter in Colorado, a son in New York, a son in North Carolina and a son and daughter still nearby in Iowa. We pray for them daily, talk with them most everyday and love them beyond what words can express. Cell phones, FaceTime and texting make them feel not so far away and bonded in family ties. They tend to call while they are driving home and catch us up on their day, giving us the highs and lows of what’s going on in their lives. When the call comes in, we drop everything and answer and just enjoy the moment together in conversation. We love to hear their voices and share in their day. The two younger ones are my bonus kids that I love dearly. I feel very blessed to have them in my life and to witness what a wonderful father my husband is. He loves to laugh with them, tell jokes, give advice (wanted or not) and just spend quality time with them. We dream of having the whole big crew together with their significant others, dogs and cats for the holidays…we know this is a big dream and the reality of it happening slim to none. We prayerfully put this dream in Gods hands and if that is to be it will be. Until then we feel blessed to be together anytime we can. Last year we almost pulled it off with Christgiving, where we combined Thanksgiving and Christmas together. We were blessed to have everyone and their pooches, minus our son in New York, at our home. However, with Facetime we got him and his girlfriend with us! The day was wonderful! We celebrated Christmas with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the background, played games with fun prizes, ate the traditional Thanksgiving meal with all of my parents’ and grandparents’ recipes and opened presents. The holiday cheer and spirit was amazing! My advice to blended families: be flexible, patient and kind when blending a family especially during the holidays when so many pressures and demands for time are high. We truly are blended, blessed and bonded… we pray the bond continues to strengthen in God’s perfect timing and in His perfect way. Wishing our readers a joyous Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas… or Christgiving!!
The authors, Troy and Barb Muilenburg along with athletes from Ellsworth Community College visited elementary schools in Iowa to share the love of reading, writing and drawing! The authors read “Silly Zoo Is All I Can Say” to the children and shared fun facts about zoo animals. The authors created a “Write Your Way” program that the athletes were able to inspire the students with. It was so awesome to have the children draw, write and read THEIR way as worked together to create their own animal story!
We are celebrating the New Year by offering the 2016 Award Winning Children’s book, “Mommy Loves Baby” for FREE thru iBooks. Soothe your little one to sleep with this book.
Just search iBooks on your iPhone or iPad for “Mommy Loves Baby”, and there it is, Free.
This endearing lullaby book will also be complimentary on Kobo and Barnes and Noble for a limited time.
Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Gold Medal winner for children’s books ages 0-3.
Review – Mommy Loves Baby, and baby will LOVE this book! From the sweet animal families on the wipe-clean pages to the simple but charming text, everything about this little book is baby-friendly. Expect dimpled smiles and pudgy hands clapping to hear it read again and again. It’s a winner!
– Lisa Kay Hauser, National Award-Winning Children’s Author and Editor
If you are looking for your very own “Mommy Loves Baby” board book, ask for it in your local book store or check out our website with Free Shipping https://curtischristinepress.com/wp/product/mommy-loves-baby-book/
Another award winning book by Curtis Christine Press is Silly Zoo Is All I Can Say which won Creative Magazines 2016 Book of the Year.
Please share and have a Happy New Year!!
Curtis Christine Press.
Free “Mommy Love Baby” eBook, just in time for the Holidays. Read this book to your little one tonight and by the way if you use your little one’s name while you read, it will be a book changer!!
Books will be free on iBook’s, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble for a limited time, so get yours and share with a friend. Just download to unwrap!
If you are looking for your very own “Mommy Loves Baby” board book, find your local book store or check out or website https://curtischristinepress.com/wp/shop/
Happy Holidays from Curtis Christine Press.
For us, camping is one of the best ways to get in some quality family time (and A LOT of laughter.) With boys who love their video games a little too much, and the older siblings always busy with work or school, camping gives us the opportunity to really connect without the distractions of every day life. Phone service was present, as always, but our batteries gave out pretty quickly (yahooo!)
Now, we are no camping pros, but we have picked up a bunch of tips and tricks that make camping with a large crew more accessible and easy going. We think everyone should be able to enjoy the outdoors with their kiddos so we want to share what we have learned with you!
1.) Find a park with a hiking trail system, especially if your group wants to go on an adventure!
We chose the Mississippi Palisades State Park for our camping excursion. It boasts a 13-mile trail system, with five trails in the north and five in the south. On the park’s website, we found that the north trail system was less hazardous and had wider paths. Considering we had two puppies in tow (more on them later) and it was nearly 100 degrees out, we chose this path first to see how everyone would do, and it was amazing! At the peak of one of the trails was an incredible view from the top of the palisades. A selfie of the whole group was obviously in order! Troy’s arms are so long we call him the “selfie stick”.
The next day was a bit cooler and we all felt great from our previous hike, so we hit the south trail system. It was much more rugged and “off-road,” if you will. Climbing was required much of the time and the trails weren’t as marked so we were really happy to have our trail map with us. It was so fun to explore an area nearly untouched by civilization. We definitely enjoyed the south trails more because of the feeling that you were walking on the same paths that the Native Americans forged so many years ago.
2.) Use a carabiner to make your backpack feel lighter while hiking.
If your backpack already has a chest strap then you’re good to go, but ours didn’t, so we improvised! Just use the carabiner to attach the backpack straps at your chest. This takes so much weight of your shoulders (literally!) and makes carrying a heavy backpack much easier. We packed a bunch of water and sandwiches in ours so we could have a picnic once we found a cool view.
3.) If your dog is afraid of the water, throw him in a kayak!
This is where the newest addition to our Silly Zoo comes in, Bear! No, not an actual bear, just a little puppy the kids named Bear. He is half German Shepard, half black Lab so the name is pretty fitting considering he should grow up to be a big boy.
After our hiking we were all in need of some refreshing water to play in, so we loaded up the kayaks and headed to a nearby lake. Our slightly older puppy, Paisley, loooooves the water so the minute we got out of the car she was off like a flash. On the other hand, this was Bear’s first experience with a large body of water. It was so cute, and a little heart breaking, to watch him tentatively paw the edge of the water. As much as we could see that he wanted to join in on the fun, Bear would not take the plunge. Not wanting him to be left out, we plopped him into a kayak.
4.) Bring a yoga mat to double as a sleeping pad.
Regular camping sleeping pads are great, but you never know when you might want to bust out a downward-facing dog, right?! Plus, not everyone has a plethora of camping supplies in their garage and this way you can shave off some of the supply costs. Camping should be stress-free, not expensive!
5.) Cook corn on the cob with the husk still on.
This will minimize the amount of clean up and cooking supplies needed. Gently peel away the outer layers so that the husk remains attached at the bottom of the ear, remove the silks, then recover the cob with the husk. The removed silks can then be used to help start the fire. Once the corn is prepared you can either throw it directly on the grill over the fire, or place tin foil over the grill first. We put ours directly on the fire and it gave it a great smoky flavor. Don’t be afraid if it starts to look charred on the outside, the inside will still be great! Since cooking time varies depending on the size and heat of the fire, check the corn occasionally and remove once the kernels are tender. If you have reluctant corn huskers, make it a game! We had a competition to see who could husk the most ears of corn. Yes, we are from IOWA!
6.) Use Keebler Fudge Strip cookies (or another chocolaty cookie of your choice) to make s’mores.
This is by far my favorite part about camping. Who doesn’t love a gooey, marshmallowy, chocolaty cookie sandwich of goodness? Needless to say, we scarfed down a few too many of these bad boys. Good thing we went on that super long hike!
Anyways, to make creating this traditional camping dessert simpler, we used Keebler Fudge Stripe cookies in place of the traditional graham cracker and Hershey chocolate combo. The result was really tasty! I might even like it more than the traditional version!
7.) If you don’t like chocolate (like most of our boys), replace the chocolate of the s’more with blueberries.
Don’t ask me how Troy thought of this, but while we were sitting around the fire making s’mores he asked for some blueberries (or BLUEBS as we now prefer to call them), and we curiously watched as he put them on top of the melty marshmallow of his s’more. The result was surprisingly delicious and everyone wanted to try making one. BLUEBS all around! They were definitely a hit with the boys who don’t like chocolate quite as much as the girls (why is that a thing?!), but I’m willing to bet that a combo of chocolate and blueberries would be even more amazing. We’re definitely going to have to give it a try next time! Or, you could try it out for us and let us know what you think!
8.) Last but not least, LOVE each other!
If you don’t do anything else, enjoy your time together. Talk, laugh until your abs hurt, share funny stories, do weird dance moves, whatever makes you happy! Get out into the wild and make some memories!
Have any camping tips or stories to share with us? Leave a comment. We would love to hear from you!
Looking for a fun activity for your children this summer? We have the perfect fit for you! Our summer kits are specially packaged for each age group and are the perfect balance between fun and educational. To top it off, they’re FREE with a purchase of one of our books — but only for a limited time!
Purchase either Mommy Loves Baby or Silly Zoo Is All I Can Say, and enter your email at checkout. For FREE, our printable, electronic packet will arrive shortly and is sure to bring endless fun and learning to your classroom or home.
Packets vary based on age, and include a range of activities from coloring pages to writing activities. Simply tell us in your email what age your child is, and what they’re interested in. The packets could even include portions of our Write Your Way program, encouraging young writers to do what they love.
We are so excited to announce that Mommy Loves Baby WON the Benjamin Franklin Award for best Children’s Picture Book 0-3 years old category!
During a gala awards ceremony held Friday, April 8, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) announced the 2016 Benjamin Franklin Book Awards gold medalists in 54 categories. Mommy Loves Baby was one of them! smile emoticon
A complete list of the categories and their winners, as well as more information about the awards, can be found here: http://ibpabenjaminfranklinawards.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Press-Release-IBPA-Announces-Gold-Medalists-in-the-2016-Benjamin-Franklin-Awards-041216.pdf
We recently added to our Silly Zoo. Meet Paisley Polkadot!
This was a great day for everyone. The Ellsworth Men’s basketball players split up and read the book “Silly Zoo Is All I Can Say” to kindergarten through 3rd grade classes. The players also answered a few questions about the book and Panther Basketball. The Panthers finished with a few assists as they helped some of the students work on their WRITE YOUR WAY activity sheets.
By the time all of the classes were finished, it was time for lunch – and who doesn’t like pizza?!
Looking back, it was an awesome day at Alden Elementary. We’re not sure who had more fun – the students or the basketball players! We are planning on going out again in a few weeks to follow up with the activities that we did together.
Last minute gift ideas
Sometimes better late is sometimes just that, better. I have never really been one to go out and get the Xmas presents months ahead of time. It sounds like a great idea. But still, to find the time and actually know what the kids want at that point is simply impossible. It seems that Christmas lists are ever changing and have a mind of their own. I cannot tell you how many times over the years that I have actually purchased a gift only to find out that it is not on the Christmas list anymore. You think there may some things you can get early that should be a sure thing, but even with shoes, clothes, and games the kids can have a change of heart, and in many cases grow out of them before they get a chance to unwrap them!
More often than not, my procrastination has turned out to be the smart move. I am able to get shoes and clothes that they like and fit right now. Sure, sometimes it is too late to find the more popular gifts like the “Tickle Me Elmo” or this year’s “Pie Face” game, but other things do come along and sometimes are even better because it is a surprise. You do find something that they really like and it is not on the list.
Do you still have a gift or two find?
There is still plenty of time out there for those of us who may have a gift or two to find. So here is a short list of ideas for the kid in all of us: A favorite movie on DVD or online, hats, mittens, gloves, scarves, a daily journal or notebook, nice socks, action figures, a handy flashlight, a nice picture with a frame, a board game, or a water bottle. A favorite for parents and children alike could be new book or in this case an ebook like Mommy Loves Baby or Silly Zoo Is All I Can Say…both now available as an ebook and an Ibook. These are two books that both the child and the parent will enjoy to together.