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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Owen’s music class

We have been doing classes a the Champaign School of Music for awhile off and on.  Their Music Together classes are fun for little ones. We’ve decided to let the kids do ONE activity per season for right now. I don’t think there’s reason for them to do more than that, especially as I know it’s going to just get more crazy as they get older. For this spring/summer, we threw out all kinds of sports option to Owen – tball, soccer, swimming lessons, martial arts, etc. Nothing. Refused every one. So I started looking into other things for him and we found the Music Explorers class at CSM. It’s a 45 minute class where they learn the very basics beginning skills on piano (keyboards) and ukulele. He got to pick out a ukulele (red was his choice) and got all his books on the first night of class. He was in love.IMG_5370They spend the first 5-10 minutes singing a welcome song and things like that.  Then they practice the ukulele with Mr. Luke. This includes things like learning the string names, how to hold the ukulele, how to pluck the right string, etc.IMG_5225Then, they get to do piano with Ms. Danielle.  Basic key recognition, learning soft and quiet, very simple songs, etc.IMG_5223 IMG_5222I will say that I’m not sure the instructors have had a ton of experience teaching small children and there’s been at least one child with some behavior issues in both of his sessions.  And the price is a little steep.  Buuuuttt the child loves it and refuses to try anything else. So we’re going to keep going for awhile. Now if I could just get him to practice. ;)


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

DIY Circus Marquee Sign

I cannot wait to give you a full rundown of the amazing party we threw to celebrate my 5,3,1 kiddos. But before the full show of pictures, I have to share a few of my favorite projects from the party. Has anyone noticed that these circus marquee letters are everywhere in decor these days? I’ve seen them in so many stores, from Hobby Lobby to Target.
I knew I HAD to have these but when I started hunting around, the lowest price I was seeing was still upwards of $15 for EACH letter. Yeah, not going to happen. So I did what any good crafter would do and started scouring Pinterest for good ways to make them on the cheap. I found a few blogs out there (here and here) but the costs were still a bit high using the paper mache letters or wood. Then I started finding a few that used cardboard. (here) Bingo. My kind of price.
So here’s what you need:
  1. 2-3 sheets of posterboard in the color you want
  2. 2 sheets of foam board (walmart even carries it).  Great if it’s in the color you need, but just paint it if it’s not.
  3. acrylic paint (see above)
  4. hot glue gun
  5. something sharp like a pencil to create the holes
  6. 1 string of Christmas lights (I used a 150 light strand I think)
Step 1
Some people can freehand letters. Not this girl. I used my Silhouette software to print out large letters over 4 sheets of paper. You can also do this in excel or photoshop. I used the free font Budmo found here and used text size 1500. Print the parts of the large letter, cut them out and tape them together.  Then trace them onto your foam board and cut those out. I needed to use an exacto knife to cut through the foam board.
11134147_802940633094040_2304935427416357110_n Step 2
If your foam board is not the color you want it to be, paint it.  Mine was yellow on one side and white on the other and I needed it to be red. So a little thing of acrylic paint and 2 coats later, and it was red. You don’t need to worry about painting the sides of the boards, just the top. A word of warning, I bought 2 kinds of foam board, one from Walmart and one from the Dollar Tree. The Dollar Tree one was much thinner and actually curled a little bit after the paint dried. I didn’t really care as I wasn’t going for perfect, but you might be happier with the thicker foam board from Wally World or your local craft store.
Step 3
Poke the holes for the lights. Now there are tons of cool strands of lights out there that look much more like marquee lights. And if I was using these letters for room decor or something for the long haul, I would have splurged. A friend even offered to loan me the lights hanging above their patio (thanks Laura). But 2 hour party folks. A free strand of Christmas lights from the basement tub worked just fine.  I started the lights at the top of one letter and poked a hole just a little shorter than the distance between the 2 bulbs on the string. You’re not leaving the lights in the holes yet, just poking the holes.
Step 4
Cut your posterboard into 2” long strips. I used almost 2 full sheets of posterboard for my 6 marquee letters.
Step 5
Heat up your trusty glue gun. Then slowly, very slowly, put a line of hot glue on the edge of the foam board in 1-2” increments.  Line up a strip of posterboard with the bottom the foam board and press to attach.  Does that make sense?  IMG_5388Continue around the edge of the letter and around the inside. It will take a bit of finagling on the small inside spaces of some of the letters, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be. I found that on the large curved letters, it helped to use 2 smaller strips instead of one long one to get a best fit and without it getting weird and bendy.IMG_5389 IMG_5390 Step 6
Now that you have all your letters done, all you have to do it insert your string of lights in the back.  They fit pretty snug in the holes, but I did add some painter’s tape along to secure it. Sorry I didn’t take any pictures of this step.  When I was done, all the letters were strung together and now had to be moved as a group. Here’s a picture with the lights in focus, not the letters.
Step 7
Then you just need to have someone else hang it for you. haha. I simply put some command strips on the back and hung them from the overhang on our patio.

I was pretty impressed that they even survived an hour of good rain. We took them down so they could live in our basement now! Definitely added just the amount of pop I wanted for the party. And not bad for under $5!
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Monday, June 15, 2015

knock knock

Anybody there?

Is it weird I almost started crying as I sat down to write? It’s like seeing an old friend who you haven’t seen in years. So much has happened. Where do you start? And yet, it feels like no time has passed and the friendship just carries on. Or at least I hope that’s how you feel about my little place in the blog land. I’m hoping you won’t mind that I took some time off.

I thought I’d be ok just closing down the blogging chapter of my life. It’s easier just LIVING with 3 kids instead of always writing about how we’re living.

But I cannot even count the number of times in my head I’ve said “wow, I should blog about this.” I’ve missed the outlet this little site has given me to share what God’s doing in our lives, how awesome I think my little family is, and the ways that I’ve been using the creative bent that God’s given me.

I’ve missed you my dear friend. So glad to be back.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

speech evaluation

For a year or so, I’ve been listening to my firstborn and wondering, just wondering, about a few of the sounds he makes.  Now being an early childhood educator, I knew I was probably being a little over-curious.  But this past spring, I called Unit 4 and requested a speech evaluation.  Finally, a few months later I got a call saying his eval would be August 12. 

I took Ellie to a friend’s house because I knew they’d get nothing accomplished with her there. ;)  We headed to the Early Childhood Center where we met Maureen, a very sweet speech pathologist.  She explained they would do the whole early childhood evaluation, as many times they get parents worried about “speech” but there are many other issues that are revealed in the screening. 

Owen didn’t want to go in alone, so I sat outside the open door which was nice because I wanted to see what she did anyways.  She asked Owen to do a series of things like stack 9 blocks, draw lines and shapes, and describe objects she laid out on the table.  He had fun doing most of them, as witnessed by his hands in the air here:photo-001She said (later) that she won’t ever forget Owen because of what he did during one portion of the “test.”  He was asked to look at 2 pictures and then she turned them over.  Then she held up a matching picture and he was to tell her where to lay it down so it would be on top of it’s matching card.  Does that make sense?  Well, he did the 2 cards just fine.  But then she did it with 3 cards, a house, a duck, and cup.  He placed the first one fine, but looked confused about the second.  He pointed at where to lay it down and then looked at the cards (which were turned over).  He said “that one is wrong.”  She asked him how he knew that since they hadn’t turned them over yet and he said “the numbers don’t match on the back.”  We both laughed!  She said she’d never had a kid pick up on the fact that they were labeled with numbers (for her benefit) on the back before.  But of course, she still had to dock him that point even though he showed a higher level thinking skill.  (boo to standardized tests)

Overall, he passed with flying colors and she said he an absolute joy to work with.  She did hear the 3 sounds I was worried about, so I wasn’t a complete nutcase for requesting a screening.  He replaces his /th/ sound with a /y/ sound.  For example, instead of this, it sounds like yis.  He also has trouble with a /r/ sound when it’s in a blend.  For example, in crayons, it sounds more like cwayons.  And lastly he struggles a bit with the /l/ sound.  It sounds more like a /w/ or /y/.  For example glasses sounds likes gwasses and leaf sounds like yeaf.

She said she never does speech therapy for the /th/sound because it almost always corrects itself.  And for the /r/ and /l/, she said it is totally normal at his age.  I’m supposed to just model over and over and she even suggested using a mirror so he can see what it looks like to make those sounds.  So we’ll just work a little on those sounds extra hard as we start preschool here in a few weeks!  It was an interesting experience to be on the other side of the teacher table for the first time.  :) Glad to know that on paper, he’s right where he needs to be! 

Freezer Cooking (with friends!)

Awhile back, I hosted a Prep.Freeze.Cook party with some friends.  It was super fun, but at about $12 a meal, not something my budget could do every month.  Enter: my friend Amy.  She decided to take the concept and adapt it for a smaller group of friends and do the shopping/prep ourselves.  This month I invited myself to her house for the “party.” :)  William held down the fort and Miles and I headed over on Saturday 1-001 photo 1 (2)-001How it worked was a week before the party, Amy sent us an email with different shopping lists divided up.  We each picked a list to buy.  It also had a few items that needed to be prepped ahead of the cooking day.  Here’s what my list looked like:
  • PREP ITEM - 32 medium sliced green peppers
  • 64 oz white vinegar
  • 4 bottles (16 oz each) zesty Italian dressing
  • 8 limes
  • 7 jars (4.5 oz each) or 28 oz of minced garlic
  • 1 bottle (12 oz) of ketchup
  • 64 freezer bags
  • 8 cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 8 cans black beans, drained
  • I also decided to pre-label all the bags to save us some time on the morning of
Every arrived and unloaded all their 5-001These 2 guys were adorable together and were so great throughout the morning.
photo 3-001 Again, each group of ladies tackled one meal at a time.  We simply found the indreitent on the massive table of food and dumped it into a gallon freezer bag.  Once all the bags for that meal were done, we sealed them and put one meal in each lady's laundry basket.

Here was our list of the 10 meals that we prepped (can you tell we're big chicken fans?):
Taco Chili
Black Bean Chicken 
Coconut Lime Chicken
White Chicken Chili
Chicken cacciatore
Creamy Italian Chicken
Italian Buffalo Chicken
Crock Pot Aloha Chicken
Crock Pot Philly Cheese Chicken
photo 4-001photo 5 (2)All in all, it took us only about an hour and half for everything.  And even better, the total was $89.52 for all of it!  Definitely worth doing a little of our own prep work to get our cost down.Amy has a full run down of the meals with links to the recipes.  I can’t wait to make this a monthly (or bi-monthly) tradition!

Friday, August 8, 2014

meet Weston!

We would like to introduce you to a new name you’ll be seeing pop up on my blog in the next year, Weston!
Our favorite little childcare kid, Sam, is having a blast with his mom and new brother Jack. We were so sad our time with him ended and I really thought there was no way I’d ever find another single kid who only needed care for a few days a week.  And then God landed 2 potential jobs in my lap.

Someone posted on Chambana moms that they were looking for part-time care and people were posting suggestions for lots of centers.  I put my info out there saying if they were looking for in-home care, I’d love to chat.  Rachel emailed me quickly as did another family who saw the post.  We met with the other family who needed care for a 1 year old, 3 days a week.  While he was adorable and the mom and I had very similar styles of parenting, I was pretty nervous about his age.  And I really would prefer the majority of the school week be with my kids (3 days vs 2).  So I was thrilled that Rachel and her husband, Dane wanted to 4They came over and Weston played with the kids and we all chatted about every issue under the sun.  Then on Thursday, Weston came over for a “trial run” while his mom worked in her classroom.  It couldn’t have gone better.  He played so well with Owen and Ellison and is such a sweetie. photo 4-003 He loves a good art project like my 2 (1) photo 3 (1) And who doesn’t love some outside play time?photo 4 (1) And the kid sleeps. 5All in all, it was a great first day.  We’ll be getting to hang out with this sweet little guy on Tuesdays and Fridays.  I’m so thankful I’ll be able to help add to our budget while still just hanging at home with my kiddos.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Casey’s Birthday Weekend

This past weekend, we packed up and headed to Peoria to help celebrate my brother Casey’s birthday!  He flew in from Colorado and we were excited to see him, Philip and Kara, and my folks.  We got there mid-morning and just had a fun time hanging out. Picture 1961 Picture 1962 Picture 1963The kids had a blast playing in the basement, running naked in the hose outside and feeding the cows. Oh and just being crazy.Picture 1943Picture 1965The parental units made an amazing dinner for Casey us.Picture 1966Then we finally got to the part Owen was waiting for, Cake and presents. 
Owen was pretty concerned that Casey didn’t get any presents to open, just cards.  Welcome to adult life 2-002 We made the mistake of thinking Owen and Ellie could possibly sleep in the same room together.  Parent FAIL.  I guess we should have known that putting 2 terrible sleepers together is just going to result in more terrible sleep.  So somewhere in the middle of the night, we divided and conquered.  Ellie came and slept with me (and Miles) and William slept with Owen.Picture 1950-001Sunday morning we finally got a picture of my parents and the kids.  That’s been a long time coming.  I took about 40 and this was the best. :)Picture 1931Picture 1944 We had a great time at their church, the Vineyard Church Peoria and after a quick lunch, got on the road.  The kiddos were asleep before we got on the highway.Picture 1953-001When we got home, we finally got around to something we’ve been talking about doing. . .making Ellie’s crib into a toddler bed.  As you can tell, she was thrilled!Picture 1973Picture 1970It really hasn’t done much to make sleep better or worse this week which I guess I should be thankful for.  Of course we’ve had a few more things to clean up as she now loves to pull books off her bookshelf and take shoes out of drawers.  And one night, she did walk downstairs in the middle of the night looking for me.  But other than that, we’re on our way to true toddler-hood.  Next up: paci only at night and maybe potty training?  Lord help us.

Friday, August 1, 2014

B&N Frozen Event

Today we decided to have an outing after naps (rare for us) and we headed to Barnes and Noble for their Frozen event.  It was billed as super fun thing for kids and I thought there would be a few more characters present.  It wasn’t a glamorous event by any means, but the kids did awesome and it’s always fun to get out and about.Picture 1951-002At the first table, they poured what looked like salt into a cup.  Owen got to dump in water and it turned into “snow.”  They go to play with it in pans and bury animals and such.  Then, we build snowman (Olafs) with glitter playdoh.Picture 1950We cut out some snowflakes and hung them up on the little stage area.  Of course, we had to belt out some Frozen tunes while on the stage!Picture 1954-001Picture 1952-001 They were so awesome that when Owen asked for a treat while we were leaving, I had to oblige. :)Picture 1959Picture 1955 Picture 1956 Picture 1957 Picture 1958It was a fun way to ruin our dinner. :)
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