Saturday, August 25, 2012

Crayola Back-to-School Giveaway

To help celebrate Back-To-School, Crayola sent us a package of goodies!  (and is giving one away to one of you)  My girls love art supplies, school supplies, and anything creative.

Lucy enjoyed using the Dry Erase board and crayons to write out her spelling words one day this week.  She worked very carefully and planned it out so that each crayon was used to write two words.

The next day Julia used window markers to practice writing lowercase letters.  Lucy got to write out her spelling words on the window.

Another day, we used the Wild Notes journal and special pen for a spelling test.  The pen was not as fluid or as colorful as we thought it might be.  The marks mostly ended up looking dark pink, but we could see hints of color in places.

Our favorite was probably the dry erase board; I can see using that often for handwriting and spelling practice.  We also have yet to use the fabric markers, but I'm sure those will make a great craft.  Thanks Crayola, for making spelling words fun this week!

Would you like to win a Crayola Back-to-School gift pack?  One person will receive a kit containing:

-Crayola Bright Fabric Markers
-Crayola Window Mega Markers
-Crystal Effects Window Markers
-Wild Notes Index Cards
-Wild Notes Sticky Notes
-Wild Notes 1 Subject Notebook

To enter, leave a comment and let me know: What Crayola item are you most excited to try out?  I will close the giveaway and pick a winner on Thursday, August 30th at 9pm EST.  :)  Check out the Crayola website for lots of fun ideas and products. *Now Closed.  Congrats, Kimberly!*

Disclosure: The information, products, and the additional Crayola Back-to-School gift pack was provided by Crayola through MyBlogSpark.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bedtime Charts

Speaking of things that I say over and over and over again, bedtime has its own set of phrases:

"Have you brushed your teeth yet?"
"What are you supposed to be doing?"
"Why are you dancing around the living room right now?"
"Did you put your dirty clothes in the laundry?"
"No, you can't have a snack now, you just brushed your teeth."
"What could you do next?"

repeated over and over multiple times to multiple children.  Sometimes it can be pure chaos figuring out who has done what, what they are supposed to be doing, and how on earth to get them all to bed in a timely manner.  My husband has been calling it "herding cats" because its that easy.  ;)

For some reason, even though we have a fairly set routine, my children often forget what they need to do.  They seemed to be under the impression that I should personally come to each of them and tell them what to do, every step along the way.  If they had pajamas on, it certainly wouldn't cross their mind to go potty, because I hadn't told them to do that yet.

Enter, the bedtime chart:

I listed out the steps that we go through to get ready for bed: pick up toys, put on pajamas, snack, go potty, brush teeth, story time, goodnight.  Each of the three girls has a laminated chart with a clip.  The clip has their initial on it, and is moved down the list as they complete each task.

When I first created the charts they were very excited to use them.  I saw a huge improvement in their staying on task.  We do not currently remember to use them every night, but the effects have lasted.  They have a better idea of what needs to be done before bed and still enjoy running to find their charts when I suggest it.  Two thumbs up for a good idea!

Monday, August 20, 2012

August Stork Stack

Stork Stack delivered their August box to me promptly on the first day of August.  :)  With the first week of school here and the ending of summer, I've not had time to post about it.

This month brought even more than the typical five items.  The theme was "Splish Splash and Sleep Tight".  For details on each of the products, see the Stork Stack website and click on "Want Details?" under the August stack.

To be quite honest, this wasn't my favorite Stack, for various reasons.  I do not plan on using the stretch mark cream; the ingredients just are not something I would choose.  Burt's Bees is a little iffy on their ingredients as well, in my opinion anyway.  (They include fragrance and some preservatives that I do not like.)  The Under the Nile products were fun, Isaac already has this baby doll though.  Tooth Tissues look interesting.  I will probably wait until Isaac is older and eating plenty of solid foods before I use them though, just because of the ingredients in them.

I'm still looking forward to next month's Stork Stack!  They announced on Facebook that the theme will be Lil' Learners.  There is also a discount code on their Facebook page good through Thursday... :)  Sign up now to receive the September Stack.

First Day of School - Fall 2012

I have a third grader and a kindergartener this year!



Monday of last week was our first official day of school for the year.  The girls were getting antsy and asking when we could start.  They do better with some structure and busyness to their day, so I decided to go ahead.  Public schools here begin after labor day, putting us a bit ahead of everyone else's schedule.  However, starting now gives me room to take breaks as needed.  Shorter breaks, spaced throughout the year seem to work well for us.  My mom is coming for a visit in October and we'll take a week off then.  That being said, we've hardly done any schooling over the summer!  We had swimming lessons, a week at a cottage, and a "stay-cation" with Daddy home from work.

Lucy and Julia were excited to dive into their new books, asking to do more pages.  It felt good to be productive and learning again.  I'm still figuring out all of the new books and certainly don't have things running smoothly yet, but its fun.  Today we made an art project helping the girls learn the difference between continent, country, state, city, and so on.

I'll post a more specific list of our curriculum soon.  We got our Compassion Children information in the mail and the girls can't stop talking about their new friends.  I'm also working on putting together our continent boxes.  I'm excited about all that we are going to learn together this year!  Now I have to go check on these guys and make sure they aren't crawling all over the table... (because at one point they were and it involved me screaming, the girls running away, and then me trying to convince them to come back and watch and that I had it all under control, which I didn't...)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Call of a Coward by Marcia Moston

Call of a Coward by Marcia Moston is an interesting true story of the author's time as a missionary in Guatemala.  I read through the book in a day, as it was an easy read and kept my attention.  The book is  written in a story format from the author's point of view.  I appreciated that it was not preachy.

I enjoyed the book.  At some points I felt like there was depth or emotion missing, but I can imagine it was hard for the author to summarize an entire year in the book.  More about what the authors were actually doing in Guatemala would have added clarity as well.  I feel like I kept waiting for some details that just never came.  Overall though I appreciate the author's candid account and willingness to share her experience.  This was an enjoyable book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through BookSneeze.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Goddess Garden Sunscreen and UV Bracelets Review

I recently attended a virtual kid and baby trade show online.  I enjoyed learning about all kinds of new products and chatting with company reps.  Nova from Goddess Garden was particularly sweet and helpful.  I had never heard of Goddess Garden, and was impressed with their organic sunscreen.  We got to try out a bottle of it, and some super cool kids UV bracelets.

My girls loved that as soon as they stepped outside, the bracelets turned bright purple!  Here we are just at the door heading out:

And then a split second later, out in the sun it is changing.  It actually got much darker than this, but for some reason I didn't snap a photo.  The bracelets are a fun visual of the sun's UV rays to remind the girls to put their sunscreen on.  It was funny, they kept running inside to tell me their bracelet was dark purple, but as soon as they came in, it went back to white.

Goddess Garden sunscreen worked wonderfully as well.  It contains organic ingredients, no nano-particles, and is vegan and gluten-free.  Lucy said that she liked the smell of this sunscreen (it is very light and pleasant, not perfumey at all).  It was easy enough to rub in and covered nicely.

All sunscreened and ready to play in the sprinklers:

We enjoyed learning about Goddess Garden and will be sure to look for their products again.  Check out their FAQ section for lots of great information.  You can also sign up for their email list to receive 15% off of your first order.  Thanks, Goddess Garden!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gluten-Free Birthday Cake

Julia turned five this month!  She chose a Hello Kitty theme and cake.  At first I wasn't sure how to pull off a gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free cake, but it ended up great.  I used this Bob's Red Mill mix, and this prepared frosting.  For the details, we used a cut up fruit leather.  I baked the cake in two round pans and only cut one into the kitty shape.

The cake was delicious and baked evenly.  The frosting... meh, I could have made my own.  I bought it because I expected it to be fluffy and easy to spread.  It ended up being a bit gooey and runny.  Overall, Julia was happy and everyone decided to have seconds of the cake, so I think it was a hit.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Easy Sausage Quinoa Toss

Why is this called "toss"?  Well because you make the quinoa and cook the sausage and squash and toss it all together of course.  And because I couldn't come up with a better name.  Feel free to suggest one.  lol  We've been enjoying this gluten-free, dairy-free lunch lately.  It is simple to make and filling.

Why do I always remember to snap a photo after the bowl is half eaten? 

This is the sausage we use.  Its from Costco, but Meijer also sells a similar kind.

Easy Sausage Quinoa Toss
Makes 2-3 bowls full. 

1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken broth

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until water is absorbed.

1 small onion, diced
2 small summer squash, diced
2 chicken sausage, sliced

Stir fry onion in oil.  After a few minutes, add the sausage and squash.  Cook until squash is tender and sausage is starting to brown.  Simple and tasty!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Shopping and Record Keeping

Saturday morning I left the big girls at home with Ross and took Isaac to Target.  He napped in the Ergo and I wandered around finding fun school supplies.

The $1 bins had flashcards: flags of the world, animals, landmarks (these will all go in our continent boxes), US states, presidents, and US facts.  I couldn't resist picking up stick-on wiggly eyes, pipe cleaners, and pocket charts.  There was also a little book of Australian animals that will be great for our continent boxes.

At Office Max I picked out my pretty purple planner, and got some free pencils.  I use the planner, not really to plan, but more for record keeping.  I write in it what we do each day.  The entries look something like this:

math - 2 pages
spelling test - all correct!
art project - painting fall trees

I try to scribble down things like field trips, library days, and other educational type things we might do as a family.  Thankfully we live in a state that doesn't require extensive records, so this works for us.