Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Little "Fall" Project

I joined a ladies' small group at my church that meets once a week for a bit of parenting advice, Bible study, encouragement, and time to chat with other moms while we work on a craft or project.  I love being a part of this group!  Every week I come home with fresh ideas to help me in my parenting role, and I've had a chance to be creative or at least productive.  The crafts are prepared for us ahead of time so we just show up and get to do the fun part of making the project- perfect for tired moms who want some down time.  Recently, we made a set of blocks that say "Fall".  It was not hard to do, but the end result was so cute.  The clever part was using die cut letters; they look so much better than if we'd tried to paint them.  We adhered the letters with  Mod Podge which is a kind of glue that you brush over the entire block.  It dries clear with a bit of a shine.  

The blocks are four and five inches tall.  We roughed them up with sand paper
after we finished painting them, but before we adhered the letters.  

Baby M was hanging out with me while I took pictures of my fall project.

Now she's trying to run off with my blocks so I
switch my focus and photograph her instead.
What a cutie!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Crafty Solution

As I sat in the rocking chair in my daughter's room, I looked at all the stuff I used every day (powder, lotion, creams and pastes, etc...) that needed a home.  This miscellaneous stuff was cluttering up her small room and annoying me since I am a huge fan of neatness.  Her dresser was too far away to store the items there, and the ledge above the wainscotting was within reach of little hands.  I noticed the pegs on her shelf (from The Land of Nod) were high enough up so I started to formulate an idea to make hanging pockets to slip onto the pegs.  However, I am not a skilled seamstress.  I really don't enjoy sewing.  My sister Katie is great at it though, and she's quick to get projects done.  So I asked her if she would create a hanging pocket system for me.  Here's what she made for me... I love it!!  

Lotions, powder, medicines, Q-tips, and more...all have a place of their own.

Close-up view of a large pocket with smaller pocket.

I used the ties as a handy place to clip all of M's hair bows.
 Now that they are on display, I remember to use them.

A closer view of the small middle pockets.

Baby M's room has a garden theme: birdhouses, butterflies and such.  I happened to have an extra fitted sheet from Pottery Barn that I hadn't used yet.  Since her quilt and bedding matches this, I thought it would be fun to incorporate it into the wall hanging.  Then we came up with a couple of matching fabrics and some ribbon & buttons for decoration.  My sister not only sewed it, but she also came up with the layout as well.  I thought she was clever to use some of the characters from the sheet for added interest on the little pockets in the middle.  

My wonderful sister Katie and baby M.  

Friday, October 21, 2011

Author Spotlight: Tricia Goyer

It's fall and I find myself in-doors more often now.  With the days getting shorter and colder, I'm often reaching for a good book, a fuzzy blanket, and a steaming cup of chai tea. (Of course, this is only possible when the kids are asleep!) If you are also in the mood for some good books to read, let me suggest a couple for your reading enjoyment...

I've read four books by Tricia Goyer and enjoyed all of them.  My two favorites are: From Dust and Ashes and Blue Like Play Dough.  In researching a bit for this post, I discovered that Tricia has written over 30 books!  Here's her blog if you want a complete list of titles:

The cover didn't sell me.  I almost
brought it back to the library unread!
Glad I didn't as it was a great read.

The first book, From Dust and Ashes, is a WWII historical fiction, which happens to be my favorite genre when I'm looking for a fun read.  This one focuses on a little town in Austria and the liberation of a prison camp at the end of the war.  I found this book to be so captivating that I read it all in a two days!  That is not normal for me, so I think it must have been a great book.  Of course there's romance, mystery, and adventure, but it was mostly quite believable which is important to me.  It's obvious that Goyer did her homework and was familiar with the historical data that she wrote about.  In her other book I'm recommending, you'll find out why she's so familiar with the happenings of WWII.

I read this one slowly but enjoyed
each chapter and the unique life lessons
shared through her own experiences.

Blue Like Play Dough is a non-fiction book.  It's basically an autobiography about Tricia Goyer and her family.  Being a mom, I like to read true stories about other moms.  Sometimes it's very encouraging to hear that my daily experiences are similar to what other moms are going through.  However, Tricia is anything but a "normal" stay at home mom.  She is an author, homeschool mom, and has various volunteer jobs including working at a crisis pregnancy center.  She has also interviewed lots of WW II vets as part of her research for her writing.  All in all, I found her life story to be fascinating and inspiring.  The book was also a good reminder to enjoy each stage with my kids because they do grow up so quickly.

Happy reading to you, and please feel free to leave me a comment and share your favorite book or author.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Preschool or Homeschool...It's No Longer A Question

Our son turned four recently!  He's learning to read with Hooked on Phonics.
Last year I started teaching my son how to read.  Then we got our referral from China and all formal homeschooling came to a screeching halt as we adjusted to life with a new baby girl.  Almost a year went by (time does fly!) while I debated about what was the best path to take for K's education.  I was contemplating preschool mostly as a way to give him a "social life" and me a break with his little sis for a couple of hours.  Fall was nearing, and K's 4th birthday, so I knew it was time to make some decisions.  My husband was not in favor of sending our son to preschool.  He had a lot of good reasons.  My reasons for opting for preschool I mentioned above.  I looked into a church preschool near our home that had been highly recommended thinking maybe I could persuade my husband to change his mind.  Once I saw the curriculum and the cost it was obvious that preschool was not the right choice for our son.  They charged $120 per month, for four hours of instruction per week, to teach the kids the alphabet and the sounds they make.  Plus some counting, shapes and colors, etc... would be included.  I couldn't justify sending our son off to a school that would teach him what he already knows. That seemed silly to me and a real waste of money.  I looked at Hooked on Phonics and found out with an on-line coupon, it was only $140 for the entire package which includes preschool-2nd grade books, workbooks, dvd, and parent guides!  I'd pay almost that much in one month for him to learn four letters of the alphabet at the local preschool!!  So, I ordered Hooked on Phonics that very day.  We have been working through the program for about a month now. We love it! The preschool level was too easy (I'll use it for little sis eventually), so we jumped in at the kindergarten level.  K & I are both enjoying it a lot.  We do our homeschool lesson while little sis naps.  It has become a special bonding time.  Besides learning to read, he also does one activity sheet (from the H. on P. preschool extras worksheets) of his choosing.  Usually it involves cutting and pasting, which are new skills for him.  He's also practicing drawing and writing letters as well.  I know there are probably tons of programs that teach children to read successfully.  I was too tired to try and research a bunch, so I went with what I'd heard about.  It is working, and K is reading the little books with simple words that they provide as well as some books that I have or have checked out from the library.  What I like best about it is that it's sequential and organized.  It gives me a starting point to work from, and then I can get creative and add to it to fit what my son needs.  For example, he was struggling with certain words and ending sounds.  So I used a variety of methods (flip chart, letter cubes, magna doodle, home made worksheet...) to just review those words until he got them fluently.  Then we moved on with the H. on P. program.  I hope to share more about teaching K to read at home.  For now, I just wanted to share an update and give a plug for homeschooling.  It rocks! I'm so glad that I made the choice I did, and I have to admit that my husband was right about preschool.  It's sad that I took so long to agree with him on it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Craft Idea: Thank You Cards for Brides

 I made thirty of these cards for my sister
to use as wedding shower thank yous.   
After my sister's wedding shower, I realized she had a lot of cards to send out.  Since she was so busy with planning a wedding, working full time, and supporting her fiance as he went through chemo, I wanted to do something to help her.  I love to craft, so making her thank you cards seemed like a fun way to help her out.  I found an adorable card idea on Split Coast Stampers and adjusted it slightly to suit the supplies I had and my sister's wedding colors.  Sorry I don't recall the artist who originally came up with the template, but I love her idea.  Supplies I used from Stampin' Up: Very Vanilla cardstock, paper punch for the flower, grateful stamp, and Rich Razzleberry inkpad and cardstock for both the flower & sentiment.  I also used a Martha Stewart paper punch (for the "lace"), 1/8" ribbon from JoAnn's and a faux pearl to jazz up the flower.  I attached the flower with Zots clear adhesive dots.  The card was actually fairly simple to make.  Hope you give it a try.  The finished card is 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches.