Sunday, May 31, 2009

Toddler School

It has been awhile since I've posted anything for Tot School. We have been busy around here with end of the year activities (end of the year programs, recitals and co-op stuff). Even though most of our organized activities are ending for the summer, we're actually stepping up our homeschool stuff. I'm in the process of organizing DD#3's activities for this summer, so my next toddler updates might be more interesting :) I've got to say that I've gleaned wonderful ideas from the participants in the Tot School Linky!

In this activity DD#3 was working on clipping the clothespins to the corresponding color circle. She had a difficult time with these clothespins. I'm wondering if the traditional wooden ones will work better. I'll have to let her try those. I ended up putting stickers on the end of the clothes pin where she needed to press because it was hard for her to differentiate between the opening and where she needed to hold the pin.

These are just cardboard circles that my DD#1 covered with cardstock (ok, they were the lids to our Thai food take-out--no food touched them though ;) ) I saw a cute version of this activity using paint strips. I thought I bookmarked it, but now I can't find it. If you know what I'm talking about, I'd love to be able to pass on the link. :) Update: I knew I saw it on Jolanthe's blog, but I couldn't find it. Thanks to Cassie (the internet resource Queen) for finding the link for me :) Paper Clip Color Match

We also pulled out the first box of chalk for the summer. Walmart had them for a decent price so I picked up a couple boxes. One to use now and one to use toward the end of summer.

We had some 4yr. olds come spend the morning with us one day, so I pulled out some of my old AIM teaching materials from when I taught 1st grade. This was a seed sort activity. I really didn't plan for DD#3 to do it, but she jumped right in with the rest of them! If I were to do this activity with toddlers, I would glue one seed in the bottom of each compartment in an egg carton and have them sort the seeds that way.

DD#3 also got to use Crayola Color Wonder Fingerpaints. I really love the fact that I could just let her use them without worrying about her getting paint all over everything. She seemed to like using it. I'm not in love with the product though. It is a clear, gel-like consistancy paint. If you don't look at the lids you don't know what color you are getting. The containers are very small and the product does not go a long way. I think that I'll just go ahead and buy regular finger paints or make some pudding and let her paint with those next time.

Big sister helped her with her artwork.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Finding Clipart for Printables for Personal Use

I am currently working on a big lapbooking project that is taking up some of my blogging time--hence the short updates lately. While working on this project, I'm finding it hard to find clipart! Since my project will be for public use, I must use royalty-free/copywrite free images. But if you are creating a project for your own personal use (always check with the designer's Terms of Use for uses other than personal), digital scrapbooking stores are a great resource.

Digital scrapbooking supplies usually come in several formats:
PSD files --- can only be used with Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements
ABR files --- which are brushes---and to my knowledge can only be used with Adobe Photoshop or Elements.
PNG--can be used in most graphics programs and word processing programs
JPEG --can be used in graphics programs and word processing programs
Here is a better explanation than my little blurb: Digital Products

One of my favorite stores is Designer Digitals. Every Thursday they have "Thrifty Thursday" and today they have 317 items on sale. I've highlighted a couple below that are worth checking out. (Click on the picture for a direct link to the product)

I thought the following products would be great for Nature Journals and notebooking pages. You could even print the butterfly cards out and use them as a matching game or type facts and use as game cards/flashcards.

These are just so stinking adorable! If you want cute clip-art, Mindy has it! She has some cool safari and zoo stickers too. My first thought was that these would be great for toddler/preschool projects. You could use them to create matching games, lapbook pages, counting cards etc.

And of course if you want to learn something new, Cassie Jones has all you need to know in her downloadable lessons. She has several on sale right now.

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Wordless Wednesday

Yes, I'm teething now leave me alone! ~ DD#4

Her first tooth finally broke through at 9mo! I thought she might hit a year with no teeth :)


Saturday, May 23, 2009

All About Me--Page 2

Two pages in a row about ME! Ok, you're right--this page doesn't tell much about me, but it shows that I am alive in May 2009. :) There are very few pictures of me that make it into my photo albums. That's mostly because I'm the one taking all the photos. On this particular afternoon, my oldest DD took my picture for me. After a couple photo actions, I was pleased with the results.

Digital Layout created with supplies found at

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Fix It Fridays Using PSE 4.0

It is Fix It Fridays over at I Faces. Above is the original photo. Below are my fixes using PSE 4.0. See you can still do cool stuff with older versions of Photoshop! (Still crossing my fingers for CS4 someday ;) )

The first thing I did was crop the photo. I tend to like tighter cropped photos, so I wanted to get rid of some of that dead space on the top left of the photo. Next I did a couple of adjustment layers using levels. I wanted to brighten the photo up so and add a little depth. Next I ran Photoblast ContraPop. Did another levels adjustment layer, ran Photoblast Beauty Glow and then sharpened the eyes a little bit.

For the black and white photo I used the color photo adjustments listed previously and then ran Photoblast GoldenRod action.

Thanks Katarina for letting us play with your photo!

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Thursday, May 21, 2009


I have a love/hate relationship with photography. I am totally inspired when I am able to capture a moment well (like finally getting some decent photos of DD#4!). The problem is that I am terribly picky and my photography skills don't live up to my "well" standard--lol (I'm working on relaxing on this a bit though). I have been dabbling with photography for about 6 years now. I have a Canon Digital Rebel XT and use Photoshop PSE 4.0 (yeah, I know a little archaic) to develop my photos. I love that I feel free to experiment more since going digital, but I find I rarely print my photos. A few years ago when I was still shooting film, my local developing place knew me by sight and would be waiting at the counter ready to hand off my photos to me.

Since moving and adding a couple more kids to the family, I put my photography on the back burner. I still took pictures, but I kind of stopped learning and challenging myself. Now I feel like I'm ready to jump back in and try to get my photography to the next level. I have no desire to go pro or anything like that, but I would like my great SOC (straight out of camera) ratio to be higher than it is (umm like I have to take a bunch of photos to get that really good one). Now that I'm ready to learn, I have found a great class by Katrina Kennedy over at Get It Scrapped! Her class is called: Captured Through the Lens and it starts on June 9. I'm looking forward to taking this class and know that I'm going to learn a thing or two. Let me know if you join and I'll keep an eye out for you.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Since rejoining the blogging community a couple months ago, I have come across some wonderful blogs and blog owners. Several wonderful bloggers have presented me with awards and I'd like to give a great big thank you!!

Jennifer B from My Not So Hurried Life , Anissa from Our Chaotic Life , and Stephanie from A Pocket Full of Buttons have presented me with the Lovely Blog Award.

Along with getting this wonderful award there are some rules.

1) Accept the award, post it on your blog with the name of the person who gave you the award with his or her link .

2)pass the award to 15 other newly discovered blogs and contact them.

Now I bet that some of the blogs I'm going to list below have already received this award, but I just want to let them know that I do check in on their blogs and enjoy what I read there.


My Childhood Home

Over at Designer Digitals, the heritage challenge is to scrap your childhood home. I jumped in on the challenge because it forced me to scrap about me---which I don't do often enough. After living in the same house for almost 15 years, we moved (my mom had lived in that house for over 30 years). I found the newspaper ad that was used to sell our house and it brought back a flood of memories which I journaled about. I'm glad I took the time to create the page (though I do kind of resent the fact my childhood home memories are considered "heritage"---I'm not that old!--lol!)

If you are interested in learning more about creating digital layouts, my friend Pattie Knox, has a class open called More Mad Digital Skillz. Here's part of her class description:

In More Mad Digital Skillz, you’ll learn how to create torn edges on your photos and papers, how to insert photos into type, my method for digital dry embossing, and much more including making your own brushes, working with custom shapes, and creating depth and interest with texture. This class is designed for users of all versions of Photoshop Elements from Version 3 up to Version 7, and, when needed, instructions are included for users of the full version of Photoshop from Version CS up to Version CS4. Some familiarity with your software is needed—but not much!

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Nature Walk

Last week I had to get all the kids out of the house for several hours so the ladies who clean my house could clean without kids being there (this was my Christmas gift this year!) Since the weather was finally nice, we headed out to Minnitrista. We have just started studying Botany this spring, and with it we have added nature journaling. My DD#1 really got into the journaling/drawing part on this particular day. I didn't even tell her to bring it--she just did--and did it without me even saying anything. Now that's the kind of work attitude I like to see! :) Here are some of the things we saw on our walk:

Um, yeah, what is this stuff? My DS said, "Mom, come check out the earwax on the bench!" Anyone know? I was afraid to Google "earwax stuff"--lol!

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I ♥ Faces - Week 19 Blub Book Photo Challenge

I can't tell you how excited I am to have good weather. Since the lighting in my house is terrible for photos, I take most of mine outside using natural light. Last week I took the kids to the local garden. There was a log cabin with a covered porch and it was a wonderful backdrop for photos. I have found the perfect spot to take photos of my kids! I let DD#4 crawl on the porch and I started snapping away. It was hard to get her to stay still long enough for a good photo! She wanted to be on the go. She has been one hard baby to photograph. It has been difficult for me to capture her smile on camera, but I finally did it.

For the purposes of this contest, I fall into the professional category. Me a professional? When I see what I consider "professional" I have a long way to go! :)

I am submitting this photo into the Blurb book photo contest. If chosen, I grant I Faces permission to use my photo in a printed version of a book for commercial useand possibly advertising of a photo book on both the Blurb and I Faces web sites.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bible Bee

Tomorrow is the last day to register for the first ever National Bible Bee! We have downloaded and started cutting up our memory verse cards and question cards (there are alot!). Even if you don't join, you can still access the cards here: Scripture Memory Cards

I have set up index card boxes for my two oldest kids using this system:

In addition, I will be using some lapbooking components and scripture memory songs to help us all learn the Word. I'll be posting more on that soon.

I hope to "see" some of you there too!

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ice-Cream in a Bag

We had a jam-packed week last week, so I never got my Toddler School photos up. In fact, I'm still loading and editing them. One of the things that my kids got to do was make ice-cream in a bag. Just so you don't go thinking I'm some creative, super-cool mom who lets her kids do messy things---I didn't plan this. Yep, I got to watch my kids have fun and not have to clean up the mess :) We have a wonderful lady in our lives named Mamaw. She's not our Mamaw, but has adopted all the kids in our small group as her own. She and her daughter have done all our science experiments this year. Whohoo! What that means is that my kids actually got to do science experiments this year--lol.

I couldn't believe how easy this was and thought that we actually might do it again at home this summer. Here's the recipe:

2 Tablespoons of powdered sugar

1/2 cup of whipping cream

1/4 teaspoon of vanilla

6 Tablespoons of rock salt

1 pint-size Ziplock bag

1 gallon-size Ziplock bag


Pour the first three ingredients into the pint-size bag. Seal it tightly.
Fill half of the gallon-size bag with ice and then add the rock salt.
Place the smaller bag inside the bag with the ice. Seal it tightly.
Shake, shake, shake and shake some more!

When it looks like ice-cream, take the smaller bag out from the bag of ice. Wipe the outside with a wet rag, open the bag and eat with a spoon! It was very good!

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Monday, May 11, 2009

I ♥ Faces Week 18 - Laughter

This is my first time joining in this challenge. I've been a little intimidated with all the wonderful photogs posting there, but I figure I need to just do it. :) That's the only way for me to get better. The theme for this week is laughter. If you go to I Heart Faces you can see all the other cool entries on this topic. Or you can just click the logo above. :) Feel free to join in this challenge with me! I'd love some company :)

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Friday, May 8, 2009

I Will Always Adore You

I've had such a busy week with lots of things planned to post but no time to sit down and do it. So here is my version of Wordless Wednesday, except that it is Friday :) DD#3 is such a Daddy's Girl. I love that I was able to capture this photo of them together.

Digitally Pressed Petals 3 by Katie Pertiet
Fasten Its by Pattie Knox

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cloe's Virus Killing Soup

We've had some sniffly noses around the Spell household that just don't seem to want to stop dripping. And since the world seems to be talking about swine, I figured it wouldn't hurt to boost our immune system. You might be thinking, "Oh you're just one of those homeschool, health -food nuts!" I am sooo not there yet, but I find myself slowly creeping in that direction :)

I have to admit that I was out of my comfort-zone making this soup. I have never made homemade soup. I have never bought fresh garlic, rosemary or thyme. I had never seen a leek nor did I know what to do with it once I found one. I have never seen nor heard of a fennel bulb (I used some fennel seeds just in case that was close to the same thing?) I have never bought a head of cabbage, I had no idea what flat-leaf parsley was so I just bought what I could find and the veggies in this soup were more than I have ever eaten at one time. Yes, I live such a sheltered, unhealthy life... ;)

Finally after days of getting all the ingredients ready ---ok I'm exaggerating just a little---the soup was finally done! I have to admit that I felt pretty good about making something healthy for my family. I have been trying to create more things from scratch other than baked-goods---so this was a great accomplishment for me. I was very hesitant to post my photo---so sorry Cloe if this isn't what it is suppose to look like! LOL! (My family likes a thicker soup) And guess what---it was pretty good!

Oh what? You want the recipe? Well here you go: Cloe's Virus Killing Soup

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Random Tidbits About Me

Deb from Life With Birk tagged me the other day and it's taken me forever just to sit down and answer these questions--lol! (Not to mention I always have a hard time answering more than 2 questions---lol)

1. What are your current obsessions? Checking my Google Analytics page and drinking Coke

2. Which item from your wardrobe do you wear most often? My brown slip-on shoes

3. Last dream you had? I woke up to the sound of a doorbell, which I thought was real, but it was just my dream.

4. Last thing you bought? Bunch of containers for organizing homeschool and pantry stuff.

5. What are you listening to? The washing machine

6. What do you want to be when you grow up? Hmmm, I'd be interested in learning more about photography and web design

7. Favourite holiday spots? Can't say we've really done much vacationing

8. Reading right now? The New Square Foot Garden, Grace-Based Parenting, When Children Love to Learn, DK Herb book (can you tell I have a hard time finishing non-fiction books?)

9. Four words to describe yourself. I am pretty nice :)

10. Guilty pleasure? Arby's apple turnover

11. Who or what makes you laugh until you’re weak? ?? haven't done that for a long time

12. Favourite spring thing to do? Go for a walk

13. Planning to travel to next? no plans

14. Best thing you ate or drank lately? . Cloe's Virus-Killing Soup

15. Dream vacation? An Alaskan Cruise

16. Favourite ever film? Hmm, I'm not a big movie fan.

17. Care to share some wisdom?

18. Song you can't get out of your head? Oh Mister Sun, Sun, Mister Golden Sun... (DD#3 is on a big Barney kick right now)

19. Thing you are looking forward to? Swimming this summer

I'd love to know a little more about you too! If you answer these questions, let me know so I can check it out.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Toddler School 4/27 - 5/1

Sunday is recap day at Tot School. Click on the link above to see what others are doing.

This week we had some structured fun. DD loved this activity. I picked up the salad tongs at the Dollar Tree. Thanks to someone's blog from last week's link-up (please let me know if it was you and I"ll link you up), I knew to start this activity with cotton balls.

She had no trouble picking up the cotton balls, but she did have some difficulty opening the tongs and just letting the cotton balls drop. She chose to pull them out instead :)

Next we made a color bag. As you can see we are working on the color red ( and no, I didn't dress her to match--lol!) I poured a little corn syrup into a bag, dropped a couple drops of red food coloring and let her mix it up. This activity requires the parent to pay attention---or it can be a big mess if the little one opens the bag up! I did a similar activity with a group of preschoolers and I used double-sided Super Tape (the red-lined tape you can purchase at any craft store) and taped the bag closed just in case ;)

Then we made a fish craft to go along with the Coin in the Fish miracle we read in her story Bible. You can find the instructions here: Money in a Fish Craft She had so much fun painting!

Finally, we spent some time outside just playing. We didn't have too many dry days this week, so we enjoyed getting out when we could.


Workbox System Update

It's been awhile since I first posted about the Workbox system. We have finally implemented it in our homeschool and I'm loving it! We aren't quite doing it all according to the book due to technical problems with the schedule strips (don't laminate w/ a Xyron 900 if you want the Velcro to stick!), but it is still working out alright. Here's how we're doing it:

This is the toddler's system. I have it right outside the school room. She knows that all the stuff in these boxes are hers, and you better not touch them--lol! The photo at the beginning of this entry shows the older kids' boxes (minus a pink set because they are on the other side of the room. I would have had to climb on a chair to try to get a decent photo and that just wasn't going to happen)

1. We do certain group activities together and I don't put those in the workboxes (history read-alouds, science read-alouds, etc.)

2. Most of the things I place in their workboxes are things I want them to do independently (except for the toddler and the 1st grader--they have some boxes where they work with me). I have 4 kids using this system, and I did opt to get a rack for each of them. Right now the toddler only has 6 boxes and the older kids have 8.

3. Once they are done with a box, they stack it on their shelf and place their finished work in a paper tray. So at the end of the day there is one tall stack of boxes on their shelves and I can easily see who is done and who is not.

Some things we have in our boxes are:
--Bible stuff
--phonics/spelling pages
--jump roping
--any independent science reading/lapbooking assignments
--some sort of flashcard game; either for math or music
--crafts (last week they created a horn book to go along with early American History)
--learning games
--practice the piano card
--other notebooking/lapbooking activities

I've been finding some great things at The Dollar Store. Here are a couple games that I picked up recently. They also had some educational posters that I bought and plan to make a couple of poster activities for the kids to use. The Dollar Store is also a great place to pick up items for toddler activities. Carisa at Tot School has a ton of ideas listed for toddlers.

Oh, and I've finished creating my first toddler/preschool activity for Homeschool Share's Blast contest. I can't tell you how hard it is to not post it---lol! But just know that they are planning on having a workbox section where you can download activities for various age-levels.

Why I Like This System:

I have an infant and a toddler so nothing goes as scheduled! LOL! I was finding that I would get distracted with one of the kids and the rest of the kids would lose focus and not get anything done, even if I wrote out what they were suppose to accomplish for the day. Not only that, I would lose focus and not remember who was doing what. This is a visual and tactile school schedule. Yes, it takes some preparation, but for a school day to run smoothly that is necessary. This system kind of keeps me accountable! :) The kids actually look forward to seeing what is in their boxes. Since I'm deliberately planning out their work, we are actually accomplishing more in the school day now---and usually in less time.

If you need more info. check out these links:

Sue Patrick's Workbox System
Ginger Snap Shots --workbox system
Ginger Snaps -- upclose look
Walking by the Way --- list of activities to include in the boxes


Friday, May 1, 2009

Oh Brother!

My DS has always been good with DD#3. When she was a baby, he would be so proud when he would get her to fall asleep in his arms. Even now, he takes good care of her. Yes, he can get annoyed with her when she goes in his room and messes with his Legos, but for the most part he likes taking care of her. There have even been times when she has fallen or needed help that she called for him to help her, and it better be him or else (Yes, she's in that toddler phase and knows exactly what she wants--lol)

Oh, and you see that pacifier in her mouth? Would you believe that she never used a pacifier until her younger sister was born? We let her use it for awhile because we knew she was adjusting to her new role as big sister. But what once was cute, was starting to turn into a bad habit. She wanted it all.the.time. So a friend suggested pricking a hole in it so it wouldn't work. I did that with one pacifier, but she still used it. So the next day I just cut off the whole end. I was bracing myself for a couple days of fits and tatrums. I placed the "broken" pacifier near her bed. When she found it, the first thing she did was ask Nate to fix it (I have to admit, that was cute!) Then she asked me. I told her that it was broken and that she needed to throw it away. And would you believe that she did just that! No tears, no fits----nothing!! If I knew it was going to be this easy, I would have done it months ago. Here's hoping that potty training goes just as smoothly...

I created this digital page using:

Clustered Layered Template NO. 5 by Katie Pertiet
Naturally Krafty No.7 by Katie Pertiet
Scribble Primary Papers by Lynn Grieveson
Ally-oop Alpha by Lynn Grieveson
Blooming Remnants by Lynn Grieveson
Stitched by Anna Borders
all from Designer Digitals

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