Friday, January 29, 2010

Missing Supplies, Oh My!

Last night I actually had a couple of great Valentine project ideas and was looking forward to creating and sharing today. When I went to get started I couldn't find any of my supplies!

white cardstock
tape runner
pencils (where oh where do these all go?!)

I hate it when I finally have inspiration, I can't get anything done! Where oh, where have all my supplies gone (sung to the tune of "Oh where oh where has my little dog gone") :)

So instead of crafting I worked with some of my photos instead.
 Youngest dd loves wearing this princess hat. I originally was only going to pull it out for birthdays, but I thought the hat would get more use if I left it in the toy box.

I also decided to open a Zazzle store featuring some of my favorite photos. I don't have much there yet, but will in the upcoming months.(If there is a big blank spot in your reader, it is where a flash panel showcasing my stuff is located. Click on the Zazzle link to see)

I know things have been slow on my end here in the blogosphere. The dreary January days are not helping me be creative and I have terrible lighting in my house which doesn't allow for good pictures. Being a perfectionist of sorts, I don't bother when I know it won't be good. --lol. I'm so looking forward to spring!!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Quit Teasing Me!

This weekend made me long for spring to be here. The weather was nice enough for the kids to ride their bikes and be outside longer. The younger two were eager to try out their new Strider bikes that they received for Christmas (you can read more about what a balance bike is by clicking the link above).

DD#3 got a pink Strider and a pink bunny Giro Me2 Bike Helmet to match.


DD#4 got an orange Strider with an orange Duckie Giro helmet to match. I love that for as short as she is, this bike fits her. It is also extremely light-weight which is another plus.

Doesn't she look cute in her Duckie helmet? She did very well for her first time riding a bike. She still has a little difficulty steering, but that will change with practice.

After playing outside for awhile, I went in and checked the weather report. It said that it was supposed to be an even nicer day out the next day. I told the kids that we'd go to the park and ride bikes there. When we got up in the morning and looked out the window-- small snowflakes greeted us. Ummm, I think someone got the forecast wrong! It's been 2 days of cold weather---winter is back. Those two nice days this weekend were teasing me---making me think that just maybe we'd have a mild winter. I'm ready to be outside and work in my garden. I'm longing for some sunshine instead of these dreary, overcast days. Oh spring, come quickly! :)


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Help for Haiti Collaborative Kit

Haiti has been on my mind, in my heart and in my prayers. When the news of the earthquake started hitting the airways, my team members from Designer Digitals all flocked to the forum to hear news of our team member, Christina, who lives in Port-au-Prince. Thankfully, she and her family escaped harm but her world is changed forever.

The Designers at Designer Digitals created a collaborative kit with 100% of the proceeds going to MercyCorp. This is a downloadable digital kit. Even if you don't do digital scrapbooking, you could use the kit to print out papers and elements to use on traditional scrapbooking layouts or crafts. Please pass the link on to let other crafters know about this offer.

Here's a layout that I created using the Help Haiti Collaborative kit. I'm having a hard time scrapping about the event so I went with a quote paired w/ a pic. from my youngest dd. My heart is so heavy, especially for the children of Haiti. I can't watch the news anymore. Instead I have been following several ministries via Twitter and their blogs. Mixed in with all the reports of devastation and despair, there is still a message of hope. Here are the organizations and people I've been following:

That's Church - the BRESMA orphanage (what a miracle!)
Hands & Feet Project

Right now there seems to be little I can do, but the little I can do I will do.

And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday. And the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. Isaiah 58:10-11

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Getting Crafty

I've actually accomplished a couple of crafty things this past week. Before I turned to digital scrapbooking, I used to do lots of altered arts projects along with traditional scrapbooking. I haven't done much with that hobby in the last 4 years. I've been missing doing some hands-on art projects and thought I'd ease back into things with an easy project.

I had picked up a bunch of composition books on sale earlier this year and I thought I'd create some altered composition books. I went ahead and made a tutorial on how to make the books. I can't wait to make more and use more of my collage-y stuff with it.

I actually have one layout scrapped of Christmas. ;) I don't know why, but I always have a hard time scrapping the holidays. This is my bro. and my youngest dd.  All supplies from Designer Digitals.

I know I mentioned this before, but if you're looking for some crafty Valentine ideas check out the Valentine Candy Holders article I wrote for Squidoo.

Thanks for all the ideas you've been sending my way re: getting time for school planning and math. I appreciate the emails! :)


Sunday, January 17, 2010

I Hate Math

I really hate math. I know it is because when I was in school, that was the one subejct area I struggled with greatly. I remember in 8th grade I switched schools and I was so lost in math. What my classmates were learning was the opposite schedule from my old school. I missed a lot of foundational information that year and never caught up. Thus I began to think that I was just stupid in math. Now that I'm older, I realize that was not the case, but I still have math mental blocks. It is not the subject area that I feel confident teaching my children. I'm more likely to second-guess myself when it comes to math. I don't want my kids to feel this way. So I'm working to change it.

Jimmie, from Jimmie's Collage has been posting many very informative articles about living math and math notebooking.  Her article Transitioning to Living Math tells how she ditched the workbooks (well kind of) and moved toward the Living Math approach.

I have been incorporating one of the transition steps Jimmie mentions in her article-- adding more math games to our school day. I want my kids to see math as fun, not as a dreaded subject. I figured the best way to do that is to play with them. For my older two kids, we have started playing with ThinkFun Math Dice. ThinkFun has a free manual that you can download. I printed mine and had it bound w/ a plastic comb at the local printing shop. There are a lot of different games in the book to use with the Math Dice. There is even tournament competition if you wanted to set that up with a co-op or math club.

So for now we're trying to infuse some fun into our math program. That's the first step. I plan to start adding in living books and math notebooking. So hopefully you'll see a few more math-related posts from me in the upcoming months. Who knows, maybe you'll even see a post about how much I love math. :)


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Snowflake Bentley

picture by Michael

I had been contemplating purchasing several Download N Go curriculum sets by Amanda Bennett for my 2nd grader. My 6th grader and 4th grader are currently doing Sonlight Core3, which we are enjoying immensely, but even though my 2nd grader tags along, many things are not at her level. Since I know that I cannot do two Cores at one time, I was wondering if these mini-units would be helpful. After reading Carisa's post on 1+1+1=1 regarding the Download N Go, I decided to purchase a couple and see how it goes.

We started the Winter Wonders unit this week. Each unit is designed to last one week, but we are going to cover it in 2. I set up my dd's notebook similar to Carisa, except I have the materials divided out by day so that we know where to stop (each day in the unit is spread out over 2 days in my notebook).  I also typed out a vocabulary/book/craft list for each day so that my daughter knows which vocab. words to do for the day, which library book to read and if there are any other project to do.

All this to say, we love it so far! My dd is loving working one-on-one with me right now. She's enjoying doing her own special work. Today we read and learned about Snowflake Bentley. He was the first person to photograph snowflakes. We were amazed at the beauty of each ice crystal. My dd was totally fascinated with all the photos. I was learning right along with her. I'd never heard of Snowflake Bentley before. We watched videos, looked at pictures on-line and read a book about him. Then we spent sometime making our own virtual snowflakes---this was a little addicting. :)

Here are some other resources that we've added to the unit for today and tomorrow:
Creating a Real Crystal Snowflake --see photo above
Snowflakes-Early Reader Printable Book from Enchanted Learning
Dave's Snowflake Patterns
Snowflake Match by Confessions of a Homeschooler

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Monday, January 11, 2010

School Planning Time

I was wondering for those of you who homeschool, do you have a set time in your week (or day) for school planning/grading? No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to get it all done. There is really no time without interruptions in my house until after 10:00pm, and by that time I'm pretty worn out to be able to think coherently. I'm having the hardest time planning out our week. And when the school week isn't planned well, the day just doesn't go as smoothly.

This is what happened yesterday while I was trying to get DD#2's Winter Unit set-up. Yep, DD#4 was messing with the flour again. If it's not one big mess it's 1,000 interruptions or questions from everyone else. I find that I'm easily side-tracked by all the other issues and can't get my job done. I'd love to hear some ideas on how families w/ young children are able to get some thinking time/school planning time in their week.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Scrapbooking, Valentine's projects and More

I can't tell you how good it felt to scrap again! I haven't really had time to sit and work on a project during the holidays. This layout was done as part of a 30 Minute Masterpiece Challenge that Cassie Jones hosts at Designer Digitals. For this challenge we had to scrap a photo of someone not in our nuclear family, have elements hang off the edge of the paper, use stamps, recolor an item, use at least 2 items in a kit and complete it in 30min. Whew! That sounds like a lot doesn't it? Well we are allowed 15 minutes of planning time and then set the timer for 30min. (I'll admit that it usually takes me 45min---which is still better than my usual 1-2hrs or more per layout). The layout is of my brother and nephew. Click the photo for supply credits.


Another project that I finished up this week was a new lens on Squidoo. I actually started this before the holidays but for some reason it just didn't click until this week, and now I'm happy with the results. Since Valentine's Day is coming up, I wanted to feature some fun, easy crafts to share candy with special friends and family. I was thinking along the lines of making something special to give to your kids or kids sharing with their classmates. Check out the sweet ideas: Valentine Candy Holders

Search & Win

I know that Swagbucks has been mentioned on many blogs lately. I just wanted to chime in with my experience using this service so far. I joined in November because I was looking for a way to help finance Christmas presents. I knew that it was too close to Christmas to make a significant contribution so my goal was to earn at least one Amazon gift card. I was able to earn 2 gift cards which totalled $10.00.  That might not seem like alot, but all I had to do for that $10 was use the Swagbucks search bar. Now my goal is to earn enough gift cards to take care of the majority of my gift-giving expenses for this upcoming year. Many other people have the same goal, which is why they are blogging about it in January. It takes time to rack up those bucks.:) You can sign up at the site, or you can sign up using my Swagbucks affiliate link which gives me an opportunity to earn some extra bucks. Once you join, if you have a friend join under you, you'll be able to reach the first gift-card milestone faster. :)

Well that's all the loose ends for now :)


Keeping My Toddlers Occupied


Well I think that we are slowly starting to get back into the school groove again. After the holidays I feel like we have a lot of ground to catch up. We've started to do some Toddler School activities during the day with both the 3yr. old and the 1yr. old. They love having their own activities to do with either me or one of their older siblings.

This week I thought I'd be a good mom and let the little ones make a mess. Oh wait, they do that every day! :) I purchased some finger painting paper but forgot the paint. I decided to use pudding instead and when I looked in my pantry I found that the only instant pudding I had on hand was pistachio. So that's what we used!

This was DD#4's first time finger painting. She was also the first one to figure out that the finger paint tasted good :)

Yummy! This was fun!

DD#3 had a blast. Every day this week she asked to paint. Oh and as a side-note---pistachio pudding does not make good finger paint--those nut pieces kind of look gross on the paintings :)

 I pulled out an older activity for DD#3 to do this week. It involved transferring cotton balls from one bowl to another using the salad tongs.  When I see this picture I can hear the screaming. See that hand with the purple shirt? I failed to realize that I should have had two of these set up. DD#4 was not happy to wait for her turn and she let everyone know. :)

With DD#3 I pulled out the Unifix cubes and pattern cards. She enjoyed matching the colors on the cubes, but when it came to extending the pattern--she didn't care. I don't think she's quite ready for doing patterns this way at the moment. We did have fun making towers and using the blocks as pretend doll food though. :)

We also had a nice snow blanket the area this week. DD#3 had a blast trying to catch snowflakes in her mouth. She also was a good helper and shoveled snow with me.

For Christmas the girls got a Read 'N' See DVD Bible. We've been trying to do a story a day. We have been enjoying sitting together to read the book and then watching the DVD.

Here's a listing of Toddler Activities that I've compiled. I find it helpful in planning activities for my two toddlers.

For even more toddler ideas be sure to check out the Tot School links at 1+1+1=1.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Unifix Cubes

Unifix cubes are used for ...

    * patterning
    * grouping
    * sorting
    * counting
    * numbers
    * addition
    * subtraction
    * multiplication
    * division
    * measurement
    * building towers
    * pretend food for dolls
    * pain-tolerance test for when stepped on

The last two uses on the list is how my family likes to use these math manipulatives.  :)


Monday, January 4, 2010

Project 365

Well I'm trying to get back to our regular routine---as if we really had one anyway. :) The holidays were enjoyable but I'm glad to pack up the decorations, clean up the house and start fresh. January is a month full of intentions. As I posted the other day, my theme for this year is "healthy". My goal is to go beyond intention and get to action, which will result in good routines and habits.

One good intention that I've had over the years is to complete Project 365--which I never have finished. Basically it is a challenge to take a photo a day to document the year.  Last year I got all the way through February before I dropped out. For me, a photo a day is not realistic. My goal this year is to not stress about it and try to get at least a photo a week. :)  I think that is a healthy goal for me :) I'm also not going to worry about trying to get the photos scrapped but rather will probably just post them here on my blog. I know that in the past I would actually take the pictures but the thought of scrapbooking all of them overwhelmed me. In order to help all those who would like to embark on this photography challenge,  Katrina Kennedy put out a wonderful free tutorial that helps get you thinking and planning for Project 365.  So if you take a photo a day, a photo a week or even a photo a month, capture some memories this year and share with others.