Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tot School - Ff is for Flowers Week 2

We jumped right back into Tot School this week. 

The girls LOVE this!  They'll sit and play at my feet while I cook meals.  It does take some time to clean up  all the rice that we track through the house, but I love watching them play and learn.  I'm thinking that getting one of those plastic baby pools to put inside to play in might help contain the mess.

We played this game again this week along with singing the song, "What Do Plants Need" from Homeschool Creations Garden Preschool Packs.

What a wonderful toy/learning resource.  "M" practiced copying some of the patterns and also made some flowers of her own!

CRAFT: Painting Flowers with Plastic Bottles, Toilet Paper Rolls, and Pipe Cleaners

Here was my example for the girls:

Making their own creations:

CRAFT: "Sun-Catcher" Vase
Directions: Glue pieces of tissue paper to a glass jar (we used an old jelly jar).  Add flowers and water, place in windowsill, and enjoy the sun shining through!


Monday, August 29, 2011

Make-It-Monday: Take-Along Car/Transportation Play Mat

Looking for something you can toss in the diaper bag and pull out in waiting rooms or restaurants to entertain your toddler?  I saw a neat idea for a Kids Car Game on Pinterest, and put my own little spin on it.  Here is what I came up with (I made 2 different sizes):

All rolled up and ready to go!

Ready to play.  There are 6 pockets on the larger mat and 5 pockets on the smaller mat.  I plan on putting cars in most of the pockets, and maybe some small yield, stop, or other traffic signs in a pocket.

Sorry, there are no pictures, but it is a pretty easy project so hopefully you'll be able to figure it out.  You can use whatever dimensions you'd like, but I'll share with you the dimensions for the larger playmat just to give you an idea.  I will probably make a few more of these and will try to remember to take pictures to update this with.
Material you need:
* 15"x20" piece of material with cars and roads on it (I found this at Walmart).  You could sew on your own roads/landmarks using scraps or felt.
*15" x 20" piece of coordinating fabric
*15" x 20" felt or filler material
*15" x 5" piece of coordinating fabric for the pocket
*4 - 15" x 3" strips of coordinating fabric for the ties (this was probably a little long.... 11"x3" should be fine)

*Fold each of the four strips in half lengthwise (right sides together).  Pin or iron and sew a 1/4" seam allowance around one short side and the long side (leaving the one short side open for turning).  Turn and press.  Repeat for all four strips.  You know have your four ties.
*Place cars fabric on top of felt (right side facing up).  Place the pocket material (wrong side down, right side facing up) on top of the cars fabric (lining it up at the bottom).  Pin everything in place.
*Mark vertical lines along the pocket material at even intervals (or as even as you can get it, accounting for seam allowances.  I used 2 3/4", 5 1/4", 7 3/4", 10 1/4", 12 3/4").  Sew along the vertical lines (going  through all three layers).
*Pin the ties where you want them along the top (open side towards the top, and the rest should hang down towards the pocket... it's the opposite of how you think it should go, but remember you are going to flip the material).  Baste the ties in place.
*Place the coordinating piece of fabric on top of the cars fabric (right sides together).
*Sew around outside, leaving room to turn.
*Turn and stitch (whip stitch, blind stitch, or even machine stitch if you wish) opening closed
*Stuff pockets with cars and trucks and enjoy!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Weekends are for Walks in the Park (and stopping to rest along the way!)

Praise God for the sunshine here and a cool breeze.  What a perfect day to go to the park! 

"M" was very afraid of a little ant crossing the path.
Love the felt egg sticking out of "M's" pocket... she wanted to bring along a snack!

All along the way "M" kept asking to stop for a rest.  It made me think of my walk with Christ.  In the craziness and busyness of life, am I stopping for a rest?  Am I stopping to seek to make sure I am heading in the right direction?  Am I taking moments to wait for HIM to fill me and strengthen me?  Just like "M" was able to complete the walk today by resting along the way (and not wearing herself out), I need to remember that life will be much less tiresome if I stop for some quiet moments with my Heavenly Father along the way.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Frugal Fridays - Stay-cation

We definitely could not afford to go away for the entire two weeks that Hubby had R&R (plus it is sometimes nice to relax at home), so we planned a stay-cation for the second part of his leave.  We found cheap (or free!) things to do around town.  We did treat ourselves to some extra meals out, but were also able to save money by cooking some meals at home.  Here are a couple of the highlights:

This is a very nice (and free) park in downtown Little Rock with water fountains for the children to play in and a very intricate playground with tunnels, slides, boulders, and ladders.

We buy and annual pass each year and for us it has definitely been worth it!  Hubby was away when the zoo opened the new penguin exhibit, so this was his first time seeing them.  They are always fun to watch!

"M" is roaring like a lion.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Date Nights

I absolutely LOVE our children.  I find it extremely difficult to leave them with anyone at all and really feel as though part of me is missing when they are not around.  But, I LOVE my husband, too.  The hardest part for me as a new mommy was to find the balance between my duty as wife and mom (and I'm certainly not perfect at it yet).  I am thankful that my husband still takes me on dates.  Those quiet moments that we steal away together have done wonders for our marriage.  It is a time for us to reconnect and to focus on us as husband and wife - to share our dreams, vision, and heart with one another. 
So, what did he have planned for our date?  It started with a bike ride on the newly finished bike trail (along the riverfront), was followed by a lovely dinner (we had to stop home for me to feed Bekkah, so we changed clothes and cleaned up), and ended with coffee at our local bookstore :o)  For us, it was the perfect evening!

Some dear we saw along the trail.  So peaceful and beautiful!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Field Trip - Branson, MO

Really it was a vacation to Branson, MO, but for any fellow homeschoolers there are some excellent places there for field trips.  Here are two highlights from the trip:

This was my first time there (my husband grew up going there almost yearly) and it only took me about 30 seconds to know that I was going to love it.  At Homestead Ridge you can attend a Hymn sing-a-long at Wilderness Church, pet animals at the homestead barn, and attend a history class in a one-room-school house.  As you walk throughout the park you can watch demonstrations from homesteaders and tradesmen (blacksmith, carpentry, soap-making, glass-blowing, pottery, candle-making, etc.), and even try a few of these out for yourself.  And then of course there are lots of attractions and rides.  "Boo" loved the Carousel and Happy Frogs.  "M" enjoyed the Lil' Swings and perhaps her favorite was American Plunge (which is a log flume ride with a "BIG slide and splash" as she says).  My favorite attraction was the Silver Dollar Train (expect a little surprise and a whole lot of laughing about half way through!).  There are some water attractions, so be sure to bring a change of clothes.  The park is a little pricey, but there are lots of opportunities for learning.  Military can get a 2-day pass for the price of 1-day, which is very nice!

I thought that this was pricey for what it is (almost $20/adult, however they do offer a military discount of $2 off), but if you go after 3pm you can come back the next day for free.  We went one morning and came back after nap time, which seemed to work well.  "M" actually was scared of the butterflies in the morning and would scream every time one flew by her, but after nap when we returned she was laughing and excited about them.  The Butterfly Palace is very toddler friendly.  They have little bug carts for the kids to ride through the butterfly room on, as well as hats, binoculars, and magnifying glasses.  There is an awesome mirror maze which both of our girls had so much fun in (we went through many, many times).  They also have a new rainforest exhibit and a small science center.