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The Kind of Gift that Gives Twice

Hand made presents were hands down the treat at our house.  The day before christmas each of the girls seperately mentioned how they felt about making and giving their presents.

Jellybean said, “I love to see people smile when they open presents I’ve made, it’s better than getting presents.”

Mookie said, “I’m more excited about giving presents than what I’m getting.”

I can’t take any credit for these sweet sentiments.  Too busy this month to make presents for each of them, I stayed up half the night on Christmas Eve making each of them gifts because I knew how hard they had worked on mine. THEIR hearts inspired mine.

Mookie made me a beautiful set of handmade christmas cards and Jellybean wrote me a book of poems.  You can bet I was glad that I’d stayed up until almost 4 that morning putting together their gifts, it was worth it to see the smile on their faces.

As a Christmas Day gift, I now present to you two selections from my new poetry book.

I can’t take any credit for how awesome her poems are either, even though I’m the teacher.  Her rhythm and imagination are all her own, they always has been.

Moms, OR Mine
by Jellybean, age 8

Moms are prity neat
but mine’s really hard to beat.
She baked six batches of cookies
in less than a month.
Moms(or atleast mine)
think we’re as noisy as a rock n roll band!
Their REALLY cool!
(If she ever goes away,
She will come back real soon.)

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Animal Speech,
from an animal’s point of view
by Jelllybean, Age 8

People are big
I think they wear wigs.
They are very scary
(O and my name’s Larry)
They shoot the big things
and when they hit you your dead
and the bullits are made
of stuff called lead.
So run or else your done,
really RUN!
Boom!

May you have a joyful celebration, and be filled with hope this day.

us

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Our Family Travels to Narnia

I thought if I ever visited Narnia, I would be on the lookout for Aslan, having tea with Mr Tumnus, and taking sewing lessons from Mrs. Beaver.  But when I finally got there, I had to turn my back on Aslan and follow the White Witch.  What else is a mom to do when her daughter is an ogre in the witch’s army?  Become a fan!

This week Mookie went to drama camp.  This girl has been directing plays and making props since she was two(okay maybe younger), but I have to say it was exciting to see that after spending time doing improv games and acting out scenes, she still loves it.  At the end of the week, she had her first ever stage performance in The Lion, the Witch, and Wardrobe.

So we got a little excited for her.  And donned some appropriate clothing for the big night.

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We made these shirts the night before the show, at around 11pm .  Mr. Darcy was sick with a cold and sounded like Darth Vader, and still he not only came up with a slogan about ogre underpants, but actually put it on his shirt to wear out in public. It was hands down the family favorite.  Now that’s a father’s true love.

The next day some friends came over to help micah transform into her ogre-ness. She’s never had anyone take the time to work out a hairstyle, paint her nails, and do her make-up.  What a day.

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Even mom and sister got a tattoo.

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A defeated night for the witch’s army, a victory for Mookie-she’ll always remember her first play.

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The Bookworm is now open

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It’s saturday morning at our house and the children are busy.

“Mookie, get the abacus,” Jellybean calls across the house.

I’ve already got it.  Shh, I’m adding my minutes.”

How many do you have?”

Shh, I don’t know yet.  When’s browsing time?”

Daddy says it’s in ten minutes.  Are you adding The Boy’s too?”

He has two hours, which means a dollar and 20 cents, but maybe he has some more in his envelope.”

I wonder if they’re going to raise the prices this week,” wonders Jellyfish while she waits for the abacus.

I read 7 hours this week which means I have  four dollars and twenty cents.  If I read a little longer after browsing time, I can get two chapter books.

Okay, give me the abacus, please, so I can do mine.”

A few minutes later The Bookworm bookstore, conveniently located in the family schoolroom, is open for browsing.

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Mookie, Jellyfish, and The Boy practically hop into the room, anxious to see what new books have arrived.  A few minutes of studied silence, broken by a squeal or two and finally a shout.

“I’m getting this one!” they yell at the same time, though thankfully each holding a different book.

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Mr. Darcy announces the end of browsing time,”Okay, figure out how much more time you need to read this afternoon before the bookstore opens for business. Browsing time is over.”

After chores they  happily head off to read away the minutes they need to have enough money to buy their new books. Well, the 4 year old doesn’t actually do that, since his reading time is led by mom and dad.  Really, he gets out some cars.

A few hours later 3 contented children leave The Bookworm, looking forward to the week ahead, brand new books in hand.

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This is a little peek into Saturdays at our house this summer.  Last year we started an incentive to build upon the library’s summer reading program, and this year we’ve tweaked it to a rousing success.

Here’s a summary:

What: Our family summer reading program

When: throughout the summer months off from school

Who: our three older children (though Mr. Darcy and I wish someone would do this for us)

Why: This is our family’s answer to the question “How do we keep our kids engaged in reading and learning even during our time off school.”  Last year we did a similiar incentive except that they earned real money and we took them to Borders Books at the end of the summer.  Though full of excitement, this part of the incentive was miserable for all of us. After an hour of searching through huge bookshelves, they didn’t know what book they wanted and we had to say no to a lot of choices for either poor quality or poor content.  This summer we know they are choosing great books and the selection is displayed in a much easier format for them.

How: Each week the children record how many minutes they’ve read per day. At the end of the week they add up their minutes and for every minute they earn one Bookworm penny (play money). After browsing time, they can decide if they want to read a little more during the day to make sure they have enough for the desired books. Later in the afternoon they make their purchases and save any leftover change for next week’s store. Minutes start again at zero after the afternoon bookstore.

Where: We purchased a large number of chapter books, smaller chapter books, readers, and picture books and set them out for display in the schoolroom.

From my point of view this is a win-win situation. The children read willingly, their skills improve, they are rewarded with books (not candy or movies). They read those books, their skills grow further, and in turn they get more books. A pretty terrific cycle. And if it wouldn’t take us to the poorhouse, we’d continue the bookstore through the school year.

Note: The summer bookstore has also worked their math skills: figuring out the amount of minutes each day, adding the minutes for the week, and converting the minutes into dollars and cents.

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Welcome to the family, Eve!

Clara Eve Guest
Born February 24 at 3:28pm
8 pounds, 3 ounces
19 1/2 inches 
Welcome to the family, Baby girl!

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Small Space with a Big Purpose

We live in a 3 bedroom house.  We are expecting baby #4.  And we have a whole room for homeschooling.  You do the math and it doesn’t seem to add up to just the right amount of space for our growing family.

But I’m just not convinced that bigger(and more for me to clean and maintain) is better.  Our culture certainly says that every child needs their own room, not to mention that great media room, a guest room, etc.

But after a mad rush to re-arrange and accommodate the coming arrival of our sweet baby girl, I’m amazed at how satisfied I am with our space.  

Over the next few days(if I’m not too tired or busy having a baby) I’m going to post pictures of what we’ve been doing to make every space functional!  

Since it’s 6am and I am tired, here’s just a small idea of something that helped in our school room.

I struggled with the question that all moms with kids in school(home or public) battles with-what to do with all of their artwork!

First we hang in their gallery here:(this isn’t my favorite idea, but convenient for now-I’d like them each to have their own attractive gallery on the walls with frames)

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Then as they put up more artwork, they would transfer their older works to these shelves.  Well, the shelves we always overflowing and messy(since their math and copywork went here too).

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So we took an idea from this great book 

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http://www.amazon.com/Familyfun-Home-Creative-Practical-Family-Friendly/dp/0786853999/ref=sr_11_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1234438841&sr=11-1

and made art portfolios for this year.

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Simply take two large posterboards and attach 3 sides with duct tape or packaging tape.  Let your child decorate his portfolio.  And voila, now you have a compact storage space, marked with the year.  At the end of the year I plan on going through each portfolio with the child and selecting their favorite works to hold onto for the long run.

Now their artwork moves from a display on the wall to their portfolio.

Note: With our 3 year old, who doesn’t produce quite as much art work, we made a smaller version with smaller sized sheets of posterboard.

Check back for ideas on closet and toy organization.

Next on the list, sleep!

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February Craft Ideas

Here are a few ideas we’ll be trying at our house for the month of February:

This Cute Heart Garland, I think the girls will be able to put it together on their own…
(found thanks to mommysecrets)

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and this Fun Heart Wreath, I think we’ll take one to decorate my Dad’s door at his assisted living facility. (found thanks to theclarkchronicles)

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and this Candy Necklace, I don’t know if I’ll have the girls make these, or if I’ll make them for their treat on Valentine’s Day.

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Share your ideas!

Hope you have a lovin’ time at your house this month!

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Handmade Christmas 3!

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We just put these cute play-doh kits together for the cousins.

We used the recipe below to make 4 batches of homemade play-doh.  

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The kids rolled each color into balls and then put them into sandwich bags.  I found these cute art caddies for 3 dollars a piece at the craft store.  I painted the names with acrylics and then the kids dipped pencil erasers into paint to make the polka dots.

I found a large container of animal cookie cutters and we split them up amongst the caddies.

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And there you have a very cute, personalized, made from the home, gift!

Recipe for Dough

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 3 tbs oil
  • 2 tbs cream of tarter
  • 1tbs peppermint oil(optional)
  • Several drops of food coloring
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  1. Bring all ingredients except for the flour just to a boil.
  2. Stir in flour.
  3. Dump play-doh mixture onto clean surface and knead dough until smooth.

Aimee’s notes: I couldn’t find peppermint oil, so I used peppermint extract instead. It took up to 10 or 12 drops of food coloring to produce a bright color.  The dough mixture will be  very hot when you dump in out of the pot, as soon as you can handle the dough, go ahead and starting kneading.  We let the kids play with the dough after it was kneaded and it made the day even more smooth before making it into balls for gifts.

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Handmade Christmas Part 2

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas.

I couldn’t post this idea prior to christmas, or the recipients would have seen their gifts!

The girls made slipper socks for their grandmothers and aunts.  They turned out great and they had an awesome time doing it.  

The only materials needed for the project are puffy paints and socks.

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How to do it

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  • Wash and dry socks.
  • Take a pair of shoes(the size that fit with the socks) and trace the shoes onto cardboard.  Cut out cardboard feet.
  • Stuff cardboard feet in socks to create a flat surface for painting.
  • Lay out wax paper, plastic bag, or other protective material on table.
  • All participants should wear smocks or paint shirts.
  • Using puffy paints, paint your design onto the socks.
  • Allow to dry for overnight.
  • Wait 3-4 days to wash and dry, inside out.

 

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Other ideas for how to use this project

  • Let your children make them for friends birthdays
  • Have a birthday party and use it as a craft
  • Give it as a kit for a present-the socks, the paint, and the instructions.

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Handmade Christmas

I was leafing through “The Creative Family” by Amanda Blake Soule found the inspiration for this simple present the girls could work on for their little brother.

I showed them the picture from the book and they both loved the idea and didn’t need any more guidance.

They drew and colored the pictures on cardstock.

I helped cut them out(to make sure we preserved the edges).

And then for extra-endurance(since this is a 3 year old boy we’re talking about) we laminated each card as well.

Add some hole punches and some yarn and voila’, a fun, handmade present.

For more great creative family ideas, check out The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule

or visit her website Soule Mama

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