Thursday, September 27, 2012

The One Where I Explain Why I’m Taking a Step Back…

As you may have noticed, my posts have been a little sparse as of late. I have decided to take a step back from blogging for a little while. I don’t think it will be permanent, but I don’t want to put a specific time limit on my hiatus.

You might be asking, but why? (Or you might not care at all) Well I’ll try to explain the best I can.

When I first began blogging I really enjoyed it. I looked forward to writing every post and I loved seeing my numbers grow. It brought a lot of fulfillment to my life. I’ve always loved teaching (I was one before I became a stay-at-home mom) and I loved that through my tutorials I was teaching people. Plus I had always loved writing lesson plans and I felt like I was still continuing that through both my tutorials and my Mommy School.

However, lately, I have not felt that way. Instead my blog has almost become a chore to me. And I think my readers deserve better than a blogger who is doing it simply because she feels obligated. I started falling behind on posts and it was stressing me out, but I still couldn’t quite find the motivation to write. Not a good combination.

Now, my life has gotten a little busier lately, and I’m sure that’s contributed. I started taking care of a little baby boy, so having a 3 year old, 8 month old, and 8 week old takes a lot more time. I felt like I wasn’t being the type of mom and caregiver I wanted to be. I was always focused in what I needed to get done on the computer or what project needed to be photographed, finished, edited and blogged about. These past few days I’ve hardly thought about blogging at all. I knew I needed to write this post, but I wasn’t stressing about it. Instead I’ve been a lot more focused on my kids. I’ve noticed a huge difference in the way I treat my daughters and I think that there is all the explanation I should have to give as to why I’m taking a step back.

When I was discussing taking a step back with my ever-supportive husband he asked me what the drawbacks were. I explained that the biggest downside to me was that I felt like I was letting you, my readers, down. I mean, I haven’t even finished the Mommy School series. And my absolute favorite comments and emails I get are the ones telling me that I helped them. And that’s why I can’t say I’m giving up for good. However, when I do resume, it will be because I want to and I’m excited to, not because I feel like I have to.

I do want y’all to know that I have updated my tutorials page to include pictures. Hopefully this will make navigating past tutorials a little easier. I will eventually be doing this with my recipe page as well.

Thanks so much for understanding. I may check in here and there on my Facebook page. Also, thank you for being such fabulous readers, and I hope to see you all again!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Memory Quilt {tutorial}

A little over a year ago my brother got married in Florida. And this past week I finally finished his wedding present. Cause I’m that awesome. It’s also possibly because I got pregnant the week after his wedding, but whatever. At any rate, I had wanted to make something really personal to my brother and his bride. So I decided to make a memory quilt. It’s super easy, even if you know nothing about quilting (which I don’t). Plus it makes a great keepsake for any special occasion.

Supplies Needed:

  • White cotton fabric cut into squares (mine were 1” but you could go smaller. Totally your preference)
  • Batting
  • Fabric for the back (I pieced together some plain purple. I chose not to go patterned so the focus would be on the squares)
  • Fabric markers and crayons

Step 1: First you need to get all your squares filled out. I set out the squares with the markers and crayons at both my sister-in-law’s bridal shower and their actual wedding. They had a small wedding so if I had just done it then I might not have had enough squares! The guests had lots of fun writing notes, coloring pictures, etc. Just make sure they know to leave a 1/4-1/2” space around the edges.

Step 2: Decide how you want to piece it together. I laid out all the squares and then rearranged them to how I thought would look best.  And yes my white fabric actually had polka dots. I like the extra oomph it added.

personalized memory quilt

Step 3: After laying out my fabric I decided that I needed to break up the squares a bit. So I grabbed some of the purple fabric and cut strips the width of my yardstick. Starting with the first horizontal row I put a strip of purple to the right side of the farthest left square. Pin, sew, press. Then I repeated until I had the entire row connected with purple strips, creating one nice long row. Repeat for all the rows.

personalized memory quilt

Step 4: Now cut some nice long strips the same width. Connect the horizontal rows with these strips. Pin, sew, press. Here’s what the front looked like with all the pieces sewn together:

personalized memory quilt

Step 5: Cut your batting to be about an inch larger than the front on all sides. Now cut your backing fabric to be about an inch and half larger than that (I had to sew a couple pieces together to get the size I wanted. I just sewed right sides together then press open. Place the backing fabric down first, right side down. Next place the batting. Finally the front, right side up. Now for the edging. I tried to make this really easy on myself because I am not a quilter. I simply folded the backing in about a half inch, then folded in again a little over an inch, making for it overlapped the front of the quilt. I pressed the folds in place and pinned all the layers together. Then I sewed. Make sure you get all four layers in when you sew (folded back piece, front, batting, back). For the edges I simply sewed the bottoms first, then folded the sides and sewed, as seen in the picture.

personalized memory quilt

I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out and what’s more important is that the bride and groom are too!

personalized memory quilt

Now the (somewhat) newlyweds can snuggle together with memories of their wedding.

So what are some of your favorite personalized gifts to make?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mommy School {G is for Germs}

The spread of germs is still a pretty foreign concept for my daughter so I wanted to take some time to teach her about germs, the prevention of them, and the letter G. I found some great activities as well as came up with a few of my own that I really think your child would enjoy!

Materials Needed:

Hook: Using the magnifying glass, have your child search for all the letter G’s in the letter search. You can have them circle them. Ask them if it was difficult to find them. Why? (because they were small). Explain that there is something so small we can’t even see it that begins with the letter G. They are germs. Explain what a germ is.

Step 1: Ask your child if they know how germs spread from one person to another and make them sick. Place a little bit of the glitter in your hand and a dash of sanitizer (you can mix the two together in the bottle completely if you’re using this for a larger group). Rub them on your hands and pretend to cough into your hands. Then give your child a high five. See if they notice the glitter that has been transferred to their hands. Touch a few surfaces (ones you don’t mind cleaning glitter off of). Explain to your child that the glitter (G word!) is like the germs. Even though we can’t see germs they spread to everything we touch just like the glitter is. That’s why it’s important to cover our coughs and wash our hands. You could even inspect all your “germs” using your magnifying glass. Note: This idea isn’t mine! It came from the fabulous Little Miss Kindergarten.

Step 2: Conceal the baby powder in your hand. Pretend to cough without covering your mouth. As you do squeeze the bottle so it shoots out. Explain that the powder is also like germs. Repeat with a spray bottle and sneezing. Make sure your child understands the concept of germs spreading and why it’s important to wash our hands and cover our mouths with our elbows. Note: These fabulous ideas came from Heidi Songs.

Step 3: Pull out the hand washing coloring page. Let your child color it as you explain the proper steps.

Step 4: Time for a little science experiment! Pull out your bar of Ivory soap. Explain to your child that soap is very important for washing our hands because it helps to kill and wash away all the germs. Then tell your child that you think that bar of soap is just too small and you think that you’ll need more. Follow the directions here for putting the soap in the microwave. When it’s done it will have erupted. Explain that the soap is now full of air. Ask your child is they still think it will work to wash their hands. Break off a piece (let them mold it if they want to) and test whether or not it still works (it will) using the steps from their coloring page.

fluffy-white-soap

Source

Step 5: Finish off the lesson by having your child trace the letter G. You can also talk about other words that begin with the letter G.

TREAT: Oranges! Yummy Vitamin C

 

Need to catch up?

A is for Art

B is for Bugs

C is for Clothes

D is for Dinosaurs

E is for Exercise

F is for Food

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mommy School {F is for Food}

Hi everyone! How are y’all enjoying Mommy School so far? My daughter is loving all the fun things we’ve been doing. And today has been one of her favorites. My daughter absolutely LOVES to help cook so it was fun to learn about food and cooking while learning the letter F.

Materials Needed:

  • ChooseMyPlate coloring page and food coloring page(you can find a great one here, though it’s attached to a kit you can buy)
  • F tracing page
  • Pictures of different foods (both healthy and unhealthy)
  • A recipe of your choice to make with your child
  • Rice sensory bucket with hidden Fs

Hook: Set some rice in a 13x9 (or equivalent) dish as a sensory exercise. Hide some construction paper Fs in the rice. Let your child play and explore and find the Fs. Explain that today you will be learning the letter F. Teach them the sounds and ask if they know any words that start with F.

Step 1: Explain that the word food starts with F. Ask them what their favorite food is. Explain to your child that some foods help make us strong and healthy. And some foods we need to eat more of. Bring out the blank ChooseMyPlate coloring page. Explain what each portion means and give examples of the foods that fit in the different categories. Next bring out the different foods. Let them color them in. Assist them in cutting out the different pieces and gluing them to the plate where they belong.

myplate_magenta

Photo Source

Step 2: Bring out the pictures of the different foods. Referring to their plate have them identify the pictures as a sometimes (junk food) or an anytime (most everything that’s on their plate) food. Explain that junk food tastes really good but it’s not very good for us so we don’t eat it very often and that’s why it’s not on our plate.

Step 3: Choose a recipe the two of you can make together. It can be a new or old one. You can choose to make cookies, but keep in mind the sometimes v. anytime foods. You could choose to mix a fruit salad together or something similar. It really can be anything. As you go along explain to your child what you are doing. Let them assist you as much as possible.

Step 4: If your food has to bake or cook, take this time to practice tracing the letter F. If not, then just enjoy your treat and then practice! You can also take time to review the MyPlate.

 

FIELD TRIP: Find a local bakery or other factory that gives tours (I have the Bluebell Ice Cream factory close to my house!!!!)

TREAT: Whatever you decide to make!

 

Missed a lesson?

A is for Art

B is for Bugs

C is for Clothes

D is for Dinosaurs

E is for Exercise

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Show Off Saturday {Baby Food Jars}

Ok, so my baby is now 7 months old. And she loves to eat. I mean LOVES it. Last night my husband fed her almost 3 jars of food while I was gone. Seriously. Which means that I have A LOT of empty baby food jars in my house. I can never bring myself to throw them out because they can be so dang useful! So I’ve rounded up some of my favorite ideas for using empty baby food jars.

1. I know Christmas is a few months away but it’s never too early to start getting your advent calendar ready! I love this one from Craftaholics Anonymous.

things to do with empty baby food jars

2. Inspire Me Crafts has a great tutorial on turning all those jars into candles! What a fun project to do with some girlfriends or give as gifts or party favors.

things to do with empty baby food jars

3. I love the idea of these photo snowglobes from Design Mom. She actually put PVC pipe shavings in hers! You could also do glitter. But I love the idea of photos. So fun!

things to do with empty baby food jars

4. Throwing a party anytime soon for your girlfriends? How about you give each of them some peppermint sugar scrub in a baby food jar? Domestic Charm has some great ideas plus a great recipe!

things to do with empty baby food jars

5. These pin cushions and sewing kits from The Life of Jennifer Dawn would make great gifts and are handy to have around the house for yourself.

things to do with empty baby food jars

6. Have you ever made your own butter? You can with some simple ingredients and a baby food jar! Just check out Oishii Eats for the ingredients. Hint: Use a marble in the jar and it goes a little faster!

things to do with empty baby food jars

7. Tired of having spices piling up in your pantry? Dav.I.Son put magnets on her baby food jars and created the most adorable spice “rack” ever!

things to do with empty baby food jars

8. Craftaholics Anonymous sure knows how to use her baby food containers! Here she’s created adorable matchboxes! There are a ton of great uses for them too!

things to do with empty baby food jars

So many great ideas! Plus there are TONS more to be found on Pinterest (they just don’t necessarily go to the original source so be careful!).

What are your favorite uses for empty baby food jars?

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Get Stuff Done With To Do Lists {Printable}

OK I’m going to tell y’all something. I never (I mean NEVER) get anything done unless I make a to do list. Seriously. I mean I might pick up a few things here and do a couple dishes there, but most everything of what I need or want to get done doesn’t get done. I’m not really sure where my time goes, but it’s generally gone and at the end of the day I’m like, crap. I didn’t get anything done.

So I make To Do lists. Like everyday. Even of small little things. And then it feels so great to cross them off.

But I tell ya, it was getting a little annoying to always have to find a piece of paper in the morning. I mean, I didn’t necessarily want to use my notebook because that is mainly used for project ideas and such. Plus it felt like such a waste of paper to make a new list every single day. So I came up with a super cute one that I laminated (did I mention I got a laminator for my birthday? Yeah it completely rocks my socks) and I reuse everyday. And if I happen to…ahem…not get everything done the day before it’s still there! I just erase what I get done and it’s amazing!

creating a to do list

As you can see I already erased one thing from my cleaning list! Woohoo!

So would you like this super awesome To Do List for yourself? Well you’re in luck! Here is the link to the Google Doc. And since it’s a Google Doc you can change the topics to fit your needs (like if you don’t have a blog, you can change it to something else).

Just remember that this printable is property of My Decoupaged Life and is for personal use only, so don’t try to, you know, sell it or claim it as your own or something like that. Cause that’s not cool.

So how do you get things done during the day? Do you have to make a list or do you have another method? Or are you super awesome and remember to do everything?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Mommy School {E is for Exercise}

I think we all know how important exercise is for kids (ok and adults). So what better way to encourage our kids to exercise than by also teaching them the letter E!

Materials Needed:

  • Materials for an obstacle course
  • E Tracing Page
  • Lots of space!
  • 4 Construction paper “E”s
  • Cheap blank water bottles
  • Paint pens

Hook: Have a little obstacle course set up for your child. You could just do this inside with some pillows and furniture, or you could go all out and set up a nice big outside. Throughout the obstacle course place some letter “E”s. Have your child go through the obstacle course gathering all the letters as fast as they can.

Step 1: Ask your child how they feel (out of breath, tired, happy, sweaty). Explain what exercise is and that it starts with the letter E. Have your child place the letters they gathered in four different parts of the house (you can pick these out ahead of time). Tape them somewhere prominently that they will easily see.

Step 2: Sit down with your child and practice writing the letter E. This will give them some cool off time before starting more exercises.

Step 3: Explain to your child that one of the purposes of exercise is to get your heart beating hard. If you have a stethoscope on hand you can have them listen to their own heart. Otherwise have them place their hand on their chest or feel their pulse on their neck or wrist. Have them notice that since they aren’t running around and are resting their heart is beating slower.

Step 4: Have them find one of the letter E’s they put in the house.  At this letter teach them how to do jumping jacks. Have them do a couple. Move to the next letter. Teach them how to run in place. Have them master this skill. At the next letter teach them push ups. They may not be able to do real ones but you can teach them with their knees on the ground. Don’t be harsh, though! This is supposed to be fun! At the last letter teach them crunches.

Step 5: After they have mastered (in a loose meaning of the word) the 4 exercises go back to the first E. When you say go both of you (you can exercise too!!) do 10 jumping jacks. Run as fast as you can to the next letter and do 10 seconds of running. Continue to the last two letters doing 10 of each. You can make it a little race of who can do their exercises first.

Step 6: When you are done have your child listen or feel their heartbeat again. Have them notice how much faster their heart is racing now. Explain to your child that you don’t just have to do those exercises to get your heart racing. Have them come up with some other activities that can be exercise (trampoline, swimming, wrestling, etc.).

Step 7: Cool down by tracing the letter E again.

Step 8: Explain that drinking water is very important when you exercise (make sure you’ve been drinking water!). Let your child decorate a blank water bottle with paint pens or permanent markers that can be their water bottle for when they are exercising.

teaching kids about exercise

We seem to have a plethora of water bottles at our house so we just used an extra instead of buying a new one.

 

FIELD TRIP IDEA: Take them to a gym. Let them see the different machines people use to exercise. You can also take them to a park.

TREAT: Some sort of energy food, like healthy granola bars

 

Missed a lesson? Catch up here:

A is for Art

B is for Bugs

C is for Clothes

D is for Dinosaurs

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Show Off Saturday {Preschool Learning Crafts and Games}

My daughter will be starting her first day of co-op preschool this week. I’m so incredibly excited for her, though I think she’s even more excited. And since it’s a co-op us moms have the responsibility every six weeks to take a turn teaching. So I’ve found some fun preschool crafts and games that are great for teaching.

1. This dice matching game from The Scrapbooking Housewife would be great for either a busy bag or a game to be played during preschool.

preschool learning crafts and games

2. I think all kids LOVE the idea of getting paint on their hands and feet. And handprint and footprint artwork is super popular right now. Cowboys and Cocktails has some great ideas of things you can make.

preschool learning crafts and games

3. Gluesticks always has such fun kids ideas. These die teach kids not only about animals but emotions as well!

preschool learning crafts and games

4. My daughter loves mermaids and I’m sure she would love these mix and match mermaids from Reading Confetti. You can even use it to match patterns or colors, depending on your child’s abilities.

clothespin mermaids 2

5. Kids love playing with playdough. And I’m sure they would love it even more if they could make it themselves first using this awesome recipe for cotton candy playdough from Mama Miss. Just don’t eat it!

cottoncandyplaydough4

I am so excited for preschool to start!

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