Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Handmade Christmas 2012

So I managed to pull off some handmade stuff this year, despite beginning the first weekend in December. I think I did strike the right balance and I even finished the day before Christmas Eve. Each of the kids got three gifts from us and some stocking stuff (which was really clever items if I do say so myself). For the three gifts I tried to stick to a Gift of Wonder - something they asked for, a Gift of Meaning - something handmade that I thought they would like, a Gift of Purpose - something they needed (clothes, shoes, school stuff).

Cordelia asked for an American Girl doll, which I reluctantly decided to get, for her gift of meaning I made a camping set for her doll. The set included a tent, a sleeping bag & pillow, campfire (that lights up), a working lantern, smore's and all the fix in's, plates & little beverages.

 the colored pencils are made from bamboo skewers and markers and I cut down a small notebook a little smaller.
 I made the plates from canning lids and all the food is made out of clay.
 The lantern is a tea light, medicine cup and a lid to a prescription bottle.
I am going to make a tutorial on how to make the different beverages, they are my favorite.
 The campfire turned out so awesome it is made from a CD, tealight, sand, sticks & rocks.

 And of course a new American Heritage Girls uniform for Cordelia's newest friend.
Cordelia also got a punch of handmade clothes which I will post later.

Trenton got his Avenger Legos, new sneakers and I made him a Lego tray with handles and a Lego mat he can play with his Legos on and store them in when he is done.

This is the state of the tray right now (Trenton and Daddy are building some Avenger thing), but it has base plates on it that he can stick his creations too. 
The mat draws up into a little sack that can be hung up
 And then when he wants to play he spreads it out on the floor, there is even a little clear pocket for him to put his favorite pieces in.

Isabelle got a a few handmade items,  first up was a tire swing painted sunshine yellow for little Miss Hollywood.
 She had this crazy list of stuff which deserves its own post, but in it she asked for a fairy riding a unicorn. Well I found the Schliech Bayala series that had fairies riding pretty horses and unicorns doing their own thing, I decided that would suffice. But really the gift just wasn't complete without a place to play with the fairies. Troy and I built this awesome Fairy Tree House, I had a hay day in the floral section of Jo-ann's getting moss and fungus and bird's nests to complete it.

Piper was fun to make things for, because really she loves everything. She got her Accountable Kids board like the other kids have (she was very excited). She also got another baby doll, this one uses the potty (which we hoped would encourage her) I made her a little diaper bag and filled it with preemie diapers. She also got a little tent to play in and a pretend campfire to roast her pretend marshmallows.

And if you are wondering why I have a astro turf rug, that was on Isabelle's list. I figured I would get some use out of it using it for my pictures.

For their stockings I picked a book for each kid and then filled it with items that tied into the story. Cordelia got Little House on the Prairie, I added cookie mix, old fashioned candies & a jump rope. Trenton got The Adventure's of Robin Hood, a bow and arrow (minus the big foam arrow heads), and chocolate gold coins. Isabelle got a Pinkalicious book that had stuff to do with a lemonade stand and gumballs. Her stocking included pink lemonade mix, gumballs and I added a jump rope.

I really loved how everything turned out this year. I am especially pleased that I stuck to the three things and the kids didn't have any false expectations.  And the stocking book thing is definitely a new tradition.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fall Bucket List

I thought in my quandary of gift giving I would make sure that the kids and I really took time to enjoy the upcoming season. Summer really isn't my thing, it gets really hot and I get really cranky, so in order to draw out the next kind of cooler season I would create a little bucket list of things I don't want to miss.

* Attend at least one Fall Festival!
* Visit the Pumpkin Patch
* Decorate our Pumpkins (we have done glitter & paint in the past that the kids loved!)
* Host Thanksgiving Dinner!
* Decorate for Fall (I never do and my kids have expressed their dislike of this)
* Weekly park days
* Camping
* Hiking
* Beach
* Deleon Springs (Sugar Mill Restaurant)
* Hayride

I also want to participate in this October Photo a Day Challenge
I hope to post here once a week at least with the picks of the day, but don't judge me if I post them at the end of the month.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Something about being called...

So in a few short days I will get what I anticipate is a very official looking package (it could just a be a plain old cardboard box) with very official looking stuff in it. As it would seem this little extracurricular activity I have been working on for months will become a full fledged ministry. I would be lying if I said that I wasn't doing a half excited/ half freak out dance in my head because this is awesome and crazy all wrapped up in one.

In the leadership book they mention that God does not call the equipped, He equips that called! And only in raising  my children have I never felt that statement ring more true. Not only has He worked to equip me (in so many ways) but to bring wonderful women to walk alongside me in this ministry. I am so proud that my girls are able to call themselves American Heritage Girls.

I have so many goals and ideas and dreams for our little group (including to one day be a big group). God is amazing in the way He pushes you to places you normally would not go and provides. And I have learned a fair bit about patience and waiting on Him through this process. I have a board of 4 other women that all bring exactly what I need to this group, a church that is excited and eager to see it take off, and a group of parents who came alongside from the first mention of starting a troop and have stuck through till now when we finally become official! Blessings all of them!

I write this because I really don't want to forget this moment. I want it to propel me forward, I want to literally hit the ground running when that package arrives and not stop. I mean really I have 3 little girls, I am thinking I have about 15 more years doing this till I see my last little one out of the organization, I think I need to remember this moment.

I love scouting, I am doing what I always dreamed I would with my girls, as my mother did for me as a scout leader and in a ministry where God is the foundation on which every thing we do is built, not just an optional part of a promise! I am so excited!!

Friday, August 31, 2012

It is coming

Click here and you will understand what I am talking about. For those you who didn't at the start of this post I only have 115 days 2 hours and 39 minutes till Christmas. For normal people that is plenty of time but for people like me who walk the fine line of insanity and handcraft Christmas I am sooooooo behind. Not really that I am usually starting to make things per se just that I have spent the last few months creating this master vision of my handcrafting and right now I kind of have nothing.

I think after 4 years of doing this I am plum out of ideas. It is also that the older two are well older and finding ideas for them that I can make is hard. One of them is also a boy which takes that hard to a whole different level. My kids don't go to public school, so they don't have the overwhelming influence from peers to have the latest this, that or the other thing and we don't watch TV so they don't see commercials. So when it comes to getting ideas it has gotten really hard because without those specific outside influences they don't know what they want, and when they do I know it is because it is something they really want and not just a fad. But my oldest has been asking for the same American Girl doll all year, which I am considering and the other wants Lego's (and unfortunately I have not figured out how to DIY those ; ) but there is not much handcrafting I can do in these areas. I want to craft stuff but I don't know maybe I should just throw up my hands this year.

And then the Little's, I have also found that some of my designs cannot hold up to the daily wear they put things through (seriously my kids never destroyed toys or at least they didn't till my two littles came along, grrr!). So I worry that I can't make stuff durable enough for such rough kids.

Then I really want to stick to the 3 gifts thing this year, but every year, 3 gifts turns into big sets of things wrapped in the illusion of 3 gifts. I am just stuck wondering what is a crazy lady to do!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A day in our life!

I have participating in the Not-Back-To-School Blog Hop this month. This weeks topic is a day in the life. While it may not be as much eye candy as say the week with homeschool rooms, but it is definitely my favorite week to surf other blogs for ideas. I think my biggest problem comes with my lack of routine and consistency and I love to see how other people do it so I can glean a few tidbits of wisdom from those more organized and/or seasoned than I. But I will share a little about a day in our life first:

I have actually gotten in to a pretty good (for me) routine in the morning, the problem I am having is continuing to build the routine past that point.

5:45 I get up and get myself ready (which includes a few minutes of computer time if I am not super lazy)
6:30 my Littles get woken up, they get dressed and breakfast and Izzy is learning to use her Accountable Kid cards which includes making the bed, brushing teeth and hair and that sort of thing.
7:00 - The Bigs get up rudely and abruptly because they are tired from staying up and reading all night (good problem to have but still). They start to work on their cards, they are left to finish their cards till school starts @ 8:00.
7:30 - I start the Littles circle time and then Izzy gets started on her workboxes.
I admit hers are kind of ghetto right now with their post-it notes and packing tape but I have a slim printing budget and really it works for now because her and her little sister destroy everything.
We have gotten into a regular schedule with her workboxes which helps with keeping her in a nice routine. 
  • Box 1: Calendar Folder
  • Box 2: Game or Activity (I usually pick one that will last a while so I can start with her siblings)
  • Box 3: Language Arts Activities (this is alot of her curriculum work we are using MFW Kindergarten) it includes a worksheet, flash cards, tactile letter activities.
  • Box 4: Sunday School worksheets (this one was her idea, so she can get her prize on Sunday for completing it)
  • Box 5: Book of the Week (from our curriculum)
  • Box 6: Math-U-See Primer
  • Box 7: Art Activity/Lapbook
  • Box 8: Science/Sensory Table
  • Box 9: Handwriting
8:00 - The Bigs get started, we try to knock out a majority of our group time first off, because it becomes a pain to bring everyone back together later. We work on Bible & History and then the start with their workboxes which I modified to a  file folder system. They have numbers that correspond to each folder and then the items that don't involve the file folders like Spanish (on the computer) or our writing and science centers.

Their boxes look something like this:
  • Box 1: Vocabulary
  • Box 2: English
  • Box 3:File Folder Game
  • Box 4: Spanish
  • Box 5: Math-U-See
  • Box 6: Art
  • Box 7: Writing
  • Box 8: Computer (Reading Eggs)
  • Box 9: Baseball/Softball/Dance Conditioning
  • Box 10: Science
  • Box 11: Lapbook/History Pocket Activities
  • Box 12: Reading

This is our science center it has the scientific method, days of creation, periodic table and center rules. I have included these cute lab sheets which the Bigs fill out together when they work on their science experiments. The little plastic box has all the supplies for their experiment. I use these great shelves I got from my Grandpa, they fold up which is nice on the days when we don't have science although they are heavy.

This is the writing center for my oldest I got the idea for here it is helping to get her through a particularly frustrating subject (and please don't mention the error in my board, I know, I know my husband snickers every time he sees it)

We are usually done by 12:00 (except my oldest who seems to be quite skilled at wasting exceptional amounts of time!) And after lunch is when I start trying to pull everything together schedule/routine wise and fail miserably but every new day offers hope right!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Our First Week

Our first week went well, better than years past. We are using our modified file folder version of workboxes with the oldest two. This time I have involved the kids each night to help fill and organize their files. It is really helping keep me in line, I am hoping they keep up the enthusiasm to do it each night. Isabelle is using the regular version of workboxes and really does well with them, I actually look forward to filling hers each day and I hope to soon start including Piper her own little tot boxes.

Here are our week one hightlights:

Trenton playing one of my math pouch games I made.
 Here is my 5th grader (she did her hair for the 1st day of school) after day one I have been fighting to even get them dressed.
Our Moon sensory table with homemade moon sand (we are studying the Moon for Kindergarten week 1).
Piper playing with her color game that I made ain't it cute.

 We put up our rocket-ship tent to take a trip to the moon Isabelle was very disappointed it didn't have controls!
No worries when your mama is a crafting ninja ; ) shoebox, few pegs, dowels, drill & buttons and we were ready for lift off!
 And basically my children swung around like monkeys in a tree!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Yearbook pictures?

One of the things that I just fail to do since my kids came home to school is get those yearly portraits of them, not that I miss them, really, they were always borderline terrible, but still it marked the changes from year to year. This year I was so so blessed that my beautiful and talented should-be-sister Morgan of Robert Morgan Photography took the time to do a photo shoot of my children this summer while she was home from Tennessee! They turned out beautiful and I am so grateful, who needs yearbook pictures!

My little people are 10, 7, 5, & 2 1/2!
 Sometimes I can't help but be amazed that these little people are a part of me!
 My Girls!
My wild child!
My Handsome Boy!

Me and my baby girl!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Our Schoolroom

Our schoolroom hasn't changed a whole lot in the past year and half, that was when we threw our house in to upheaval and shifted 4 rooms around. This is where our schoolroom/dining room ended up, it used to be the living room. And when I get frustrated with not having enough space I remind myself of the string of tiny apartments our family has occupied over the last 10 years and can't help but thank God for this little house that we have called home for longer than any place since high school and where we have more than enough room to call a room our schoolroom!

Off of the schoolroom we changed our small dining room into the playroom, it is nice having a place for the little's to play during school and still be able to keep an eye on them.

Next to the playroom are desks for my Kindergartener & 2nd grader (I got these laptop desks at IKEA). They each have a whiteboard the little supply cups from IKEA, clocks & picture frames I bought that allows them to change out their artwork.

These bookshelves hold all our books and curriculum, I group all my current TM's & workbooks on the top shelf, current curriculum reading books under that (in no particular order), the middles shelf holds the inbox drawers and under that part of our regular library and toys for the littles.

Moving around the room my other bookshelf it holds paper supplies and more books, workbooks & TM's I am not currently using. Next to that is my little dresser of supplies & stuff with my Lazy Susan Art Caddy on top. Another super awesome addition was this sensory table that was headed to the trash because of a broken wheel and a small crack. But she is all fixed up now and has been an awesome addition for my little Kindergartener!

Next to that is my changing table turned teacher station, it is where I keep current week files, all my supplies and lots of little things hidden behind the curtain ; ) I found the shoe organizer on the curtain rod idea on Pinterest.
This past year I gave up my desk to my 5th grader with a new student joining our school time officially this year I knew I needed to shift them.
This is our busy wall if you look back the photos I posted from a 1 1/2 ago it went from this pretty decorative wall to all function with the map and the white board. The bookshelf was given to me just recently it is huge and really nice addition although I kind of miss my dresser when the kids start rummaging through shelves for things but I too use things more when they are out rather than stuffed in a drawer. I used the plastic drawers for storing all of the littles workbox activities.

You can't find out more about our tablecloth timeline here.

I also got two folding shelves from my grandpa, they are great I have been using them to hold my Kindergarteners workboxes and the other is going to be our science center. They are a little heavy but fold flat and can move out of the way when we don't need them.

This is a view of the room from the front door it is really a great space and I feel so blessed to have it.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Our History Timeline

I am very blessed to have a space in our house to call a schoolroom it is our former living room turned dining room/schoolroom! And in case you are confused our dining room became the playroom while the playroom become the family/living room/home office. Everyone clear now, good!
But wall space is at a premium even in such a great room and this year we needed to add a timeline to our room. Now I could just have them keep a timeline in a notebook and call it a day, but my kids love to show off and I like for them to be reminded often to show Daddy what they are learning or have a nice visual to help them remember.

So with wall space scarce I got all creative on that timeline and made one crafty style (when it comes to crafts I am ninja like, I kid you not!) Thus was born the tabletop timeline!

Ain't she perfect! Just a big piece of cotton cloth and some ribbon for the timeline itself. I am hoping (fingers crossed) that I can fit each year of our 4 year history study on each line of the timeline, if not I will make one for each year. So to make this a spectacular heirloom that will be passed down for generations ; ) I am printing the timeline pieces on to printable fabric and then ironing them to the tablecloth.

Here is the start of our timeline
 All that leaves is the matter of keeping it kind of, hopefully clean. Easy that only cost me $2.50 at Wal-mart, a large piece of vinyl!

This project actually only cost me $2.50 (+ tax) because I had the cotton fabric red satin ribbon, printable fabric and fusible web taking up useless space in my house, I love when my hoarding becomes useful although it only reinforces the whole hoarding thing, but I digress! I will post pictures of it in a few weeks when we get some stuff on the timeline.