Tuesday, July 30, 2013

American Girl Doll T-shirts

Today we decorated t-shirts for our American Girl dolls.  Lucy and Julia can sew skirts for their dolls, but shirts are too challenging right now.  I spent some time searching online for doll shirts, and finally decided to try Gerber newborn size onesies.  It worked!  (Actually, Carter's preemie size works better but they are harder to find.)

I simply cut the bottom off the onesies and then let the girls decorate them with fabric markers.

Esther made a onesie for her Bitty Baby, but it ended up being too long on her.  (We have some Carter's preemie clothes and they are long as well, but better.)

I'm already thinking up more ways we can decorate shirts: matching 4th of July shirts, matching Christmas shirts, sew something on the shirt, paint on the shirt, etc.

We'd love to hear what ideas you come up with!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Humble Heart: A Book of Virtues

We've been enjoying Humble Heart: A Book of Virtues.  This little book is a collection of nine stories, each dealing with a different virtue.  The Humble Bumbles all have names like Lydia Lamb, Percy Pig, Humble Honeybee, and so on.  Each chapter deals with a topic such as humility, thoughtfulness, mercy, courage, and more.  The characters face situations that help them to learn the virtues.

The girls and I read a chapter every morning for a few weeks.  They really enjoyed the book and looked forward to reading it.  The bright pictures are fun to look at, and the stories gave us food for some great discussions.  At the end of each chapter is a verse and a discussion question.  All of the girls (age 7, 5, 3) participated in talking with me about the virtue.  The stories were short enough to hold even Esther's attention (3).  This is a great little book to use for a short family devotional time or just for fun!

Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a free copy of this book to review.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Princess Tea Party

Lucy and Julia recently celebrated their birthdays with a princess tea party!

We had the guests arrive dressed as princesses.  As part of their birthday gift from us, my girls had chosen ahead of time and ordered a special dress from Little Dress Up Shop.  I also got them the matching doll dresses for their American Girl dolls.  We were really happy with the quality, shipping, and customer service from this store!

Some of the fun party events included a princess coloring page, having a photo shoot, making a necklace, and of course drinking tea lemonade and eating cupcakes.

We went to a few different thrift stores in town and found a special tea pot for $4.  Grandma found all the glassware at a yard sale, so each girl got to take home her tea cup and plate.  I also saw plenty of glass punch cups at thrift stores for 25 cents; that would have worked also.  These cupcake wrappers and pics worked perfectly for our theme.  Wilton Princess Cupcake Wraps' n Pix, 12 Count

Our menu included lemonade, gluten and dairy free cupcakes, and fruit salad.

Along with her teacup and plate, each girl got to take home a wand, crown, and the necklace she made.  We used this box of beads and divided them up into individual plastic bags before hand:

I purchased this game thinking it might work for the party.  It is really best with 2-3 players, so we didn't use it for the party, but the girls have been having a blast with it!  They've even been making up their own versions of the game.  The cupcakes are doll sized, so I'm sure they'll be used for pretend parties also.

My girls thoroughly enjoyed their princess party!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Dilly Beans

Dilly Beans are probably our all time favorite summer snack!  It started out as an accident.  I ran out of cucumbers for making sun pickles and threw in some green beans.  The girls LOVED them and we've been making dilly beans ever since.

Grab a bag full of fresh green beans at your local farmer's market or CSA and get started.  If you have a little helper like this, even better:

 Snap the tops off of your fresh beans and wash them.  In a large sun tea glass jar, layer:

green beans
3-4 large sprigs of dill
5-6 cloves of garlic
more green beans to fill the jar

In a pitcher, stir together:

2 cups vinegar
1/4 cup pickling salt
enough water to fill the pitcher

Stir until the salt is dissolved and pour over beans.  Add enough water to cover the beans and fill the jar.  (After the lid is on tightly I shake the jar a bit just to be sure the vinegar/ salt solution is well mixed with any water I added.)  Place outside in the sun and wait 2 days.  After this point I leave them outside for a few more days, just because the kids love snacking on them while they play.  Any leftovers can be refrigerated for longer storage.

Enjoy!  If you make these, let us know how it goes.  :)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

PVC Pipe Ball Drop

I recently saw this idea on Pinterest and went a little crazy with it.

The idea is simple.  Pick out some PVC pipe pieces, drill holes in them and insert suction cups.  These can be used on a window or glass door to make a fantastic ball drop, or in the bath tub to pour water through.

Lucy and I had fun picking out lots of different shaped pipes.  They ranged in price from 63 cents to several dollars for the bigger pieces.

We found suction cups and bouncy balls at Hobby Lobby.  Just be sure the suction cups have an indented part, you will need that to keep them wedged into the pipes.  The bouncy balls were by the party supplies.

Ross used a clamp to hold the pieces in place while drilling through them.  We popped the suction cups in, and have been enjoying our new toy ever since!  It really is great for all ages; the big kids make the configurations and the little ones have a blast dropping the balls through.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

More on Keeping the Toddler Busy...

Isaac still likes the other homemade toy I posted about recently.  I'm always on the lookout for things that might keep him busy for a few minutes while I work on a school lesson with the girls.  This one is another hit!  Big sister even enjoys playing with it.

I took a peanut can from Costco and covered it with construction paper.  We bought some brightly colored pom poms, and cut holes in the lid to fit.

Isaac had fun pushing the pom poms through the hole, dumping them all out, and then clapping for himself.

Such a cutie!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pretty Pens!

This is probably one of my favorite Pinterest finds ever.  You know those clear pens that unscrew?  Roll up pretty paper and put it inside!  Mind. blown.  Every homeschool mama needs pretty pens!  My girls are excited to make a few of their own as well.

I will have to remember these for teacher gifts, shower favors, etc.  So easy and pretty.  :)

If you are looking for pens, Amazon has a good price on them.  I paid $4 for 5 at Office Max.  These are about $7 for 12.  Have fun!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Shopping from Home

With four young children at home, I've become quite the online shopper!  I actually prefer shopping online, or at least doing some online research before I pick something up in the store.  I like being able to compare prices and read reviews, not to mention the whole not-shopping-with-all-the-kids thing.  Shopping online frees up my time; I shop online in the evenings while I nurse Isaac to sleep, freeing up our weekends for family time together.

So where do I shop?

Amazon  I'm a total Amazon addict.  I always have a running wishlist there.  I read reviews, check out other related products, and really feel like I am able to make good decisions with the amount of information they give me.  Just as often as I purchase things, I talk myself out of them by reading reviews.  Sometimes this leads me to a better version of the product, sometimes I convince myself its a waste of money.  I don't have Amazon prime, but its easy enough to wait until I have enough in my cart to hit free shipping.  With homeschooling, there are always books and resources I need to buy.  :)

thredUP  This is a new site to me.  I just made my first purchase the other day and am very pleased.  ThredUP is like a big online resale shop for kids and womens clothing.  I found it super easy to search by size, color, type of clothing, etc.  They even have a few nursing tops and lots of  maternity things.  I ordered a Boob brand nursing top and a Gap jean skirt.  I guess they are super picky with what they take in, so items are in really good condition or even new with tags.  You can also send in clothing for them to sell.  If you'd like to try it out, click through this link for $10 off!  :)  Totally beats going clothes shopping with kids in tow!

Vitacost is like a health food store online.  Their prices are good, and they carry much of what I would buy at our local health food store, only cheaper.  (brown rice pasta, spices, beauty products, gluten free flours, toothpaste, etc)  Whenever I add anything to my shopping list, I check Vitacost first.  Its usually cheaper and makes my shopping trip that much shorter when I actually do leave the house.  Use my link for $10 off your first purchase.

Diapers.com ships really fast, two days to my door usually.  I use them if I need something quickly, or from time to time they have coupon codes that are worth using.  Their family of sites now includes yoyo.com (a toy store), bookworm.com (books) and several more.  If you're new to their site use ONEWORD for 20% off an order.  Their sites all ship together and uses one cart so you can get to free shipping pretty easily.  Items I recently purchased here include Julia's new car seat, a nice picnic blanket, and Legos on sale.  They have a great return policy (they pay return shipping, Amazon does not), and great customer service.

Price Checking:

Before I make a purchase I usually check around for the best price.  I do a search for the item and check several stores for their current price.  Take into consideration whether or not this store is going to charge you shipping on the item, and whether or not they have active coupon codes.  Sometimes checking the company's web page will help you find a discount.

Always check retailmenot.com for coupon codes before ordering from a website!

If I am curious as to the price history of an item, camelcamelcamel.com will tell me what an item has been priced at on Amazon for the last year or so.  Sometimes a good deal is actually always that price, so it doesn't need to be snatched up right away.  I've seen deal blogs post that something is an amazing deal right now, only to search this site and find out that the item is usually this price or even lower at times.

We have a Discover card.  If I shop through the Discover website, sometimes retailers offer a certain discount or percent back.  I don't remember to use this as often as I should, but its been helpful when I do.  I also can use cashback money for gift cards.  Sometimes the stores offer more than the rewards money.  For example, it costs me $20 of my cashback money to get a $25 gift card to Old Navy.  I charge quite a bit on my Discover card each month and always pay it off, earning free cashback gift cards.  I just got a Kindle with Staples gift cards (free!!!).  We've had our Discover card for over twelve years now and have always had good customer service.  If you're interested in signing up, email me and I can get you a $50 cashback bonus.  christy.vw AT gmail DOT com  :)

Always check shipping costs and see if you can get free shipping at a certain amount.  Also check the return policy.  I recently bought 4 different pairs of shorts from Old Navy, tried them on at home, and then returned all but one pair.  I also did that with Maurices.  Since I purchased enough to get free shipping to me, all I had to do was run into the store and make a quick return once I knew what I wanted to keep.  While I don't advise doing this all the time, it certainly solved my I-need-to-buy-shorts-but-don't-want-to-take-four-kids-into-the-dressing-room-with-me problem.

This post contains a few referral links, mainly because I like giving links to things that I'm talking about so you can find them easier.  Believe me, none of them pay very much, but if you click through and use my referrals it encourages me to keep posting and sharing with you all!  :)

Do you shop online much or is my mail lady the only one bringing package after package to my front door?  I really should bake her cookies or something...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Curriculum Fall 2013

I've been busy obsessing about homeschool curriculum for the fall!  I always enjoy seeing what other people use and how it all fits together.  So, after lots of thought and researching and overthinking...  here are my plans:

Lucy will be in third grade, 8 years old in the fall.  Julia will be in first grade, 6 years old.  Esther will be 3 1/2 and Isaac 1 1/2.

Together, Lucy and Julia will do:

History - History Odyssey Ancients Year 1 (This is chock full of resources.  Some books we will get from the library, several I've purchased.  You definitely have to check out the website and view the sample pages to see all that is included here.  I also found these games to go along with it.)

ETA: The Homeschool Buyers Co-op has this Highlights Adventures Kit for Ancient Civilizations.  Looks like a great add on for our studies!

Science - REAL Science Odyssey Earth and Space

Bible - I am going to choose from a variety of things that I've wanted to do: the Put On Chart, this Names of God book, or things pulled from For Instruction in Righteousness and Polished Cornerstones.  I still need to sit down and plan this out.

Handwriting - A Reason for Handwriting C (Lucy) and A (Julia)

Spanish - Little Pim, this workbook, and Teach Me Tapes

English/ Spelling/ Phonics -
     Julia - ABeka Letters and Sounds 1, Language 1
     Lucy - ABeka Spelling and Poetry 3, Language 3
     both girls - Bravewriter (I have The Writers Jungle and Jot it Down for me to read through this summer and will be using ideas and lessons from these.)

Reading -
     Julia - is working through The Reading Lesson and Bob books
     Lucy - Sonlight 4/5 readers and comprehension questions (link)
                one or two Progeny Press study guides

Math - Math Mammoth (1A Julia, 2A Lucy)

Music - We are starting piano lessons this summer!  Lucy and Julia also take ballet during the school year.  I have a classical music CD from My Father's World with some activity ideas to do along with it.

Art - I haven't decided how to do this yet.  I bought Enjoying Art Together, we have Artistic Pursuits, I Can Do All Things, and the art program here looks good.  What to do??

Read Alouds - I have so many choices, just need to make a list and start working through them.  Daddy is reading The Chronicles of Narnia to the girls currently.

For the little ones - I will put this in another post.  I've gathered a few things to hopefully keep Esther learning and Isaac entertained for a bit.  :)

Hm... am I missing anything?  What are your fall plans?

For other curriculum plans, see this linky.