Saturday, October 31, 2009

Making Christmas Meaningful

Making Christmas MeaningfulThis post contains all the links from our 2009 Making Christmas Meaningful series on Spell Outloud.

I have always said that I won't think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving. I like to handle one holiday at a time. Well guess what, I'm talking and thinking about Christmas and it is only November 1st! December is a very busy month for our family. We have multiple birthdays plus many Christmas activities. For the past couple of years the month of December hasn't been much fun for me. I find that I'm always trying to plan something at the last moment to try to make the season special or wishing I would have done this or that. I tend to be a little frazzled and you know what, that's not the memory I want my kids to have of me when they think of Christmas. This year I thought I'd go about it differently. I want to have my December game-plan before December hits. I want to create some intentional, meaningful memories this Christmas Season. I want to pass on to my children what I believe the true meaning of Christmas is---celebrating the Savior's birth. I want to help combat the "gimmees" and "I wants" by instilling the desire to serve others and giving them opportunities to do so.

Making Christmas Meaningful Schedule:
Organization - contains free Family Traditions Notebook Printables
Books/Music - contains free planner page
Nov. 29 Gifts/Acts of Service
Other Christmas-Related Posts:
Nativity Sets
Christmas Photo Cards
Craft & Cookie Party
Christmas Movies
Printable Gift Tags
Homemade Sugar Scrubs
Imagine Christmas -- Free Nativity Cards
Birthday Party for Jesus
Trinity Snowman Celebration

Here are some ideas for each week:

How do you plan your holiday? Do you plan your holiday? Any tips, tricks, helpful hints to make the holiday season go smoothly?

Books and Music:
Do you have any special books or music that have become a part of your Christmas tradition? How do you use them to make the season meaningful? Do you do any special Christmas units?

Any crafts that help teach about the Savior's birth?

Good memories are often made around food. What are some of your best holiday recipes?

Gifts/Acts of Service:
Any creative gift ideas? How do you combat all the commercialism? How do you share the meaning of Christmas with others?

Feel free to add the button to your blog and join me in brainstorming and sharing ways to focus on the Savior during this Christmas season.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Fix-It Fridays Photo-Editing #34

I haven't done Fix It Fridays for awhile and thought I'd give it a try again. Since I've upgraded from PSE 4.0 to PSE 6.0, I can't figure out how to get my photo actions to work in PSE 6.0. So this picture fix was a bit of an experimentation.

Here is the original photo.

Here's my fix. All I can say is that I used a lot of adjustment layers. Like I said, it was a big experiment since I couldn't rely on my go-to photo actions. I adjusted the levels and shadows, added some warmth, did a little blur, did a little color-pop using soft light layers...little cloning and used the self-healing brush.

For more Fix-It Friday examples see:


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: I'll Love You Forever

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tot School

This week I made an I Spy bottle with an ocean theme, since we've been reading ocean books in our little co-op. DD enjoyed this immensely. For this bottle I colored rice blue and found some mini-ocean life erasers plus some real sea shells to place in it.


I went ahead and worked on several with a Christmas theme too. I wrote how to create an I Spy bottle and other I Spy ideas as a lens. I hope you check it out! If you make a bottle and post on your blog, send me an email and I'd love to link it to the article.

This week we also took a wonderful fall nature walk. All my older kids had backpacks with clipboards. When we were packing our lunch and supplies, DD#3 asked where her backpack was. Thankfully I had this cheap fish backpack I got at the Dollar Tree. It was good enough for her. She even did a little "nature drawing" too. We all enjoyed being outdoors and seeing all the signs of fall.

I got this Discovery Toys puzzle at a garage sale this past summer. It is in perfect condition. I pulled them out this week. We talked about colors, names of the objects and then I let her trace them (though she didn't enjoy that at all). All week long she kept asking for these puzzles (there are 3- animals, transportation and dinosaurs). They were a hit for her!

One other activity that we did that I wish I would have taken a picture of was pull out the game Twister. My oldest daughter would spin the spinner and tell my DD#3 to "hop to a blue circle" or "crawl to a yellow circle". Little DD loved this. It was a great way to work on the primary colors.

For more Toddler Activities be sure to check out:
Tot School


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fall Nature Walk

Yesterday we packed a lunch, our clipboards and colored pencils and headed out for a nature walk at a local public garden. It was such a beautiful day, and where we live, the weather could switch in a moment. I wanted to be able to see fall before it was gone. (I can't be the only one who still can't believe it's fall---wasn't just yesterday summer?) I love the idea of nature walks, but this year we haven't done as many as I would like. We are working on incorporating more nature study times in our week. Most of the time all it takes is walking out your door, not necessarily having to go somewhere. My friend Jimmie has written what nature study is about if you'd like more information.

Each of my kids (even the 2yr. old) has a clipboard that holds paper and pencils. Periodically during the walk we would stop and they would sketch. On our walk I had them look for signs of fall and document that on their page.

My son couldn't keep his hands out of the water. He spied something at the bottom of the pond and wanted to show me what it was.

It was a big snail, still in the shell. He was facinated that the foot closed up the opening as a way to protect the snail. Yes, he did put it back ---eventhough he did ask to bring it home :)

From the path you can look down on the river, and the kids were thrilled to see all the turtles sunning themselves on logs.
I have so many pictures that I broke it up into 2 posts, so be sure to see part 2.

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Fall Nature Walk Continued

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Look Who's Talking: 10/21/09

I missed adding a featured blogger last week due to all the kids being sick. This week's featured blogger is Ginger from Gingersnap Shots! Click the pic. above to see what she shares about workboxes.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Butterfly Tea Party


Monday, October 19, 2009

Random Postings

Well this post is going to be pretty random (now you can see how I think--lol!) I was going to try to be witty and tie everything together, but that just required too much brain power and time. I'm reserving all my brain power to help revamp our homeschool routine and schedule. :) So sorry in advance for the disjointed writing.
Wow, I just went and check out the Homeschool Blog nominations page and the sponsor list is huge! If you want to encourage any of the homeschool blog writers, take a little time to send in a nomination.

Here are some cute printable ways to dress up your candy for trick or treaters this year.


My friend Sarah has created a great list of ideas for fall. Click the picture above to check them out.


I thought Jimmie's post on using picture books with middle schoolers was great. It makes me want to go to the library right now---except that I'm suppose to be revamping/organizing/rescheduling our homeschool....

I hope you all are having a great start to your week!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tot School

Tot School
Well this week was up and down for us. Monday was the only day that someone was not sick. On that day we went to our local animal shelter for a field trip. DD#3 loved seeing the dogs and cats. She especially enjoying hanging out with the cats. She let everyone know that she did not want to go home. :)

Toddler activities The rest of the week we had someone sick at our home, so we kind of winged-it. I'm so glad that I have toddler activities organized already, so it was easy to just pull out some things for her to work on. She has a couple favorite activities that she asks to do on a regular basis:

- Color. Oh she loves to color! In fact, I've had to make a special box of paper just for her to use so that she won't find other things to write on (like our school books).

- Glue. She really enjoys glueing punchies and cut-outs onto cardstock. I have a big pile of punchies already punched. I give her a small pile and she glues away.

- Cut. Usually after she's done glueing, she'll take scissors and cut her project up. That's ok. Building her fine motor skills. :)

- Drawing on a chalkboard. We have a portable chalkboard that she puts on the floor and draws on.

- Melissa and Doug Ballerina puzzle. This was her puzzle of the week.

- Spooning objects into an ice-cube tray. Lately she's enjoyed using the glass rocks. We've used mini-erasers, pom-poms and large beads too.

For more ideas be sure to check out:

Tot School

Digital Scrapbooking Supplies:
Template No. 5 by Cathy Zielske --coming soon
It's Elementary by Lynn Grieveson
SpiralBoundNo.1 by Katie Pertiet
Pencil It In by Katie Pertiet
Krafty Ledger by Katie Pertiet
Vintage FlashAlpha No. 2 by Katie Pertiet
Splatters No. 2 by Katie Pertiet


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wilbur Wright Birthplace Museum

Wilbur Wright Last week we went to the Wilbur Wright Birthplace Museum in Millville, IN. They held their first homeschooling days event--and I think they were pretty shocked at the turn-out. There were so many homeschoolers from IN and OH who attended. Too bad the weather didn't cooperate though---it rained all day. The bad weather didn't stop the event and the museum did a good job at planning many stations around the campus.

The Wright Brothers
Wilbur Wright Birthplace Museum During the even they had 16 stations around the campus. At this station younger children could ride in a plane that moved up and down with water pressure. We also got to tour the house--which even had the Wright Brother's parents and grandmother leading the tour, see the barn and view a couple of demonstrations there, view the museum and so much more.

The Wright Brothers At one station in the museum, kids could make their own propellers. My son was thrilled to be able to use tools. He stayed at this station for a very long time. I think that this might make a good Christmas gift...scrap wood and tools.

There were also rope making demonstrations, blacksmith, loom weaving and so many instructors willing to share what they knew. I would highly recommend stopping in and seeing this museum. It's a jewel in the middle of corn (fields that is---lol).

Here are some resources on the Wright Brothers:

Wright Brother's Notebooking Page from Homeschool Share.

More Wright Brother's Notebooking Pagesfrom Homeschool Share.

Wright Bro. Notebooking from Currclick

Facts About the Wright Brothers from Enchanted Learning.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Scrapbook Layout: Play

Digital Scrapbooking

Supplies Used:
Sprinkles Kit by Mindy Terasaw
Classified Clippings by Pattie Knox
Play WordArt No.1 by Anna Aspnes
Brown Stitching by Anna Aspnes
Avalanche Paperie 5 by Anna Aspnes
Designer Digitals

It has been awhile since I've scrapped a layout from scratch. I've done a few pages here and there using quick pages and templates, but I haven't just done my own thing. Now it isn't bad to just use quick pages and templates--they are a wonderful resource for scrapping! In fact, if I didn't mix it up occasionally, I'd probably never get anything done. :) It's just that I haven't felt very creative lately when it comes to scrapping. Usually that is my thing---my medium to get my creative juices flowing. I miss being in the scrapping zone. So when I opened my window to start a new page, I was stuck(I'm digital scrapping so I'm talking about my computer window--lol). I've gone through this cycle many times through the years. Here are some things I've learned about getting your grove back:

1. Start simple. If you've hit a creative block, don't put pressure on yourself to create a masterpiece.

-Use a template or sketch as a starting point, but switch it up a bit. Twist it, shrink it, or alter it.
-Use one kit to create a layout. In my layout above, I decided to have all my pattern papers come from the same kit (that's rare for me--I'm usually an eclectic scrapper). That way I didn't have to make so many choices--like decide if the papers went together or not. When papers come in a kit, they usually go together.

2. Focus on either the photos or the journaling. I know that when I'm breaking out of a rut, it is hard to pull both the journaling and the photos together. I have found that if I focus on just one, then the layout comes together quicker. For instance, when I looked at the pictures I wanted to scrap, I could not think of anything intelligent, though-provoking, or insightful to write. I knew then that I would focus on the photos instead. Try a photo-treatment, extraction, blending, cool grouping etc. when focusing on photos.

Othertimes when looking at the photos a story or funny tid-bit comes to mind, so I focus on the story with the photo being secondary (the photo is still included, it's just that I don't spend alot of time being artsy or creative with it. I use my brain-power to work the words). Then when you get in the groove, you'll find that the words w/ the photos seem to flow.

3. Ummm, I had a 3rd point but now I can't remember... late night blogger brain.

Anyway, I hope my two points were helpful! :) Getting back in the groove...

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tot School

For more Tot School ideas visit:

Tot School


Friday, October 9, 2009

How to Digital Scrapbook

For those interested in digital scrapbooking, Pattie Knox is offering one of her Mad Digital Skillz classes starting next week Tuesday. So who is Pattie? Well she's a riot that's for sure! I had the chance to meet her in person a couple years ago and she was so much fun. She also knows what she's talking about. Pattie currently is a digital scrapbook designer and was a contributing editor to CK Media's Digital Scrapbooking magazine. Her class consists of 6 lessons which are detailed PDFs plus a private forum and 6 digital scrapbooking kits. You can find the details at Get It Scrapped!


It's Raining

It has been raining here for the past couple of days---kind of dreary and cold. The weather seems to represent what I've been feeling lately, and I've found myself facing a major creative block with my blogging, scrapping and homeschool projects. So if things have kind of been quiet here lately, that's why. I feel like I need a little time to rest and regroup--but I have so many ideas swirling around in my head that I can't--lol! I will be slowing down on the number of posts in the next couple of weeks though just so I can get caught up in other areas.

My files are still down, but hopefully everything will be up by next week. Once again I'm sorry for the inconvenience.

I did get a page done last week. Cute layout of my niece.

All items from

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Little of This and a Little of That

A Little of This...

Aren't these pictures wonderful? I would love to claim them as my own, but I can't. :) These photos were taken by my friend Katrina Kennedy. I met Katrina through digital scrapbooking. One of the hallmarks of a Katrina layout is her wonderful photography. Several months ago I took one of her online photography classes. She provided great instructions, critiques and feedback. It was so much fun plus I feel like I improved as a photographer. Starting next week she will be teaching a new class called "Your Kids: Captured Through the Lens". I'm looking forward to taking the class because I am in a rut! All my kid portraits are close-ups and they are starting to look the same. I know Katrina will challenge and inspire. I plan on taking this class and hope to see some of you there too!
A Little Of That...

The Homeschool Post is going to be hosting its annual homeschool blog awards. Starting on Oct. 19 blog nominations will be accepted. Click on the link above to see the categories. This is my first year in the homeschooling blogging community, so I'm looking forward to nominating some blogs. :)

We've enjoyed using various copywork from Westvon publishers. They have downloadable copywork pages on so many different subjects that we can usually find something that will interest each child. This month at the Homeschool Shop, you can download a free Happy Scribe copywork packet.

I've noticed that the site I was using for my free downloads is not up right now. Hopefully all will be well and my files will be available tomorrow. If not, I'll be moving the files in the next day or two. Sorry for the inconvenience.

I've also added the featured blogger for Look Who's Talking About Workboxes. Click on the picture to read more.

workbox system


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Raising Rock Stars

Raising Rock Stars

We're jumping on board the Rock Star train over at 1+1+1=1. Recently Carisa posted about an idea she had about being intentional about laying a solid Biblical foundation in the lives of her children so that they can " Shine like stars". So each week people will share what they have been doing at home to lay a biblical foundation in the lives of their children. I"m looking forward to gleaning ideas!

Each day we read our Bibles together. We read the passage we are working on memorizing (John 15:1-12) and then a couple key verses. This week we talked about pruning and how the Lord disciplines those he loves. That led into a great conversation on how it can be loving for a parent to discipline a child.

John 15:1

I am the vine

The older kids once again illustrated a couple of the verses. The two-year old glued leaves onto a vine picture.

t-shirt painting

My pre-teen had to decorate a t-shirt that glows in the dark for an upcoming youth event under blacklights. I figured this would be a fun activity for all the kids to do. We decided to decorate "Rock Star" t-shirts.

Bible t-shirts

And they really glow in the dark! (Please excuse the blurry picture---I didn't have a tripod handy and there is no way any of my kids sit that still for what the shutter needed)

glow in the dark shirt

They also wrote in their Faith Journals (here's an elementary version I made for our co-op: Faith Journal)

Click on the Rock Star link above to see what others are doing.

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