Crafting Cheats

I have a confession to make.  I think we over do it on the “craft projects” in the 2-5 (maybe even older) realm.  I remember when getting to make a craft project was a special treat in school or maybe during a holiday and now EVERYTHING has a craft project.  I love doing crafts with my son, but really don’t like to do them all the time, I like them to be special occasion things.  We probably get out our crafts supplies about once a month right now and usually it’s for a holiday related theme.  Granted my son is just more interested in building ramps and roads that using crayons and paints; it’s just who he is.

(We also keep craft supplies on hand if he ever gets interested in just exploring or making art on his own, but that’s not a “project”.)

These are the items I keep on hand for “projects”.  I love these because I can whip up a project in a small amount of prep time (usually), and they’re typically fast to complete which is perfect for my not so crafty son. An additional plus is that I can “finish” these projects to end up with a nice finished project, but because they’re easily replicated I don’t feel bad throwing them out after they’ve served their purpose.

1.  Tissue Paper – I buy mine in a big stack from the gift wrap section and it takes a while to get through.

2.  Colored Construction Paper – Once again a big stack can last a while.

3.  Black Construction Paper – What I use for many of our window projects.

 4.  Con-Tact Paper –  use this for almost everything.

 5.  Watercolor Paper and Watercolor paints – We have acycrlics, but watercolor is so much easier to control and clean up.  I got my paper and set in the Clearance section of Hobby Lobby, it was a great score.

Additional Cheats – 
  • Exact-O knife blade; perfect for cutting out fun shapes without folding up the paper.
  • Cookie Cutters – what I use to cut out a lot of my shapes
  • Pinterest – where I get most of my ideas

Using just these items I’ve created some pretty fun, nice craft projects with my 2-3 year old.

Talk to Me…. About Preschool!

Four to six days a month we send off our three year old to daycare.  Because he doesn’t attend very often my expectations are low – care, play, food, nap pretty much covers it.  In our area though it is normal to start “preschool” at the age of three and while I love our early childhood teachers, whenever I see them trying to do school all I can think of is this:

There’s a part of me that loves early learning and I don’t think children’s days should be without any time of learning environment, but the other part wonders about what was wrong with the days when Kindergarten was enough to prepare you for school.  Currently, I do know that we don’t feel it necessary to seek out a preschool for three year old’s program, but next year we’ll be feeling the pressure so I wanted to open up my comments to hear from you!
What worked for you in the pre-school days.  Did your kid love three and four year old preschool?  Was it the last thing on your to-do list?  Did you let your three and four year old run wild and naked in the backyard and they still managed to learn their letters and numbers?  Share with me, write blog posts and come back to share!  Enlighten me.  =D

Rainy Days and Herding Cats

Ichiban Eggplants; such beautiful flowers!
Cucumbers coming back to life.
First Broccoli of the season is almost here.
Guardian at the Gate
Mortgage Lifter

Watermelon among the hostas.
Raspberries, coming soon.

Rainy day.

A storm moved in today and kept us from our first soccer game of the year.  If you can call letting a bunch of three and four year old’s let loose on an open field with a ball “soccer”; I call it herding cats.

The garden is doing well, but I still have so much to learn about gardening.  We enjoyed big spinach salads the other day and any day we can harvest the chard and the first broccoli.  The potatoes and cauliflower are out of control and anything in the legume family is still getting chomped by a nighttime visitor.

I’m counting down to the weekend – a short trip out of town and then maybe some new traditions for Solstice/St. John’s Eve.  I’m thinking a bonfire, or at least grilling, fresh food and maybe a special night up late to take advantage of the longest day of the year.

What are your plans?

The One About the Relic and the Goodwill Store

Yesterday I had a few minutes to myself so I stopped at our local Goodwill to look for some “crazy” shoes for the Edel conference.  Like any good thrift store run you always leave with a little more than you were look for.   This day was no different, I came home with

 and books
 and more books….
okay this find was enough to make my day originally

And then I went home.

Boring story right?  Except that when I got home I jumped online and jokingly mentioned to some friends that I had found an interesting book at the store, but had not bought it.  I was expecting a laugh or two, but instead I was suddenly inundated with replies “Go back and get it!”  “Buy it!  If you don’t want it I’ll take it!” and at least one claim of hyperventilation.

Caught up in the excitement I climbed back in the car and drove back to the store where this book was still sitting on the shelf where I had left it.

But, what was so special about this book you ask that caused mass Facebook hysteria and hyperventilation you ask?

It has something to do with what was written in the cover.

June 19, 2002  Blessed and touched by Padre Pio’s glove at Our Lady of Grace Church at San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
Sitting on the shelves of the Goodwill was a third class relic.
Pretty amazing to beginning with, but then I dug a little deeper.
Padre Pio was declared a Saint on June 16th, 2002.  This was blessed and made a relic three days later at the church which houses his shrine.
The day of my fortuitous Goodwill trip?
June 16th.

*I know there’s issues over the buying of relics.  For now I’ll maintain that I was not “shopping” for a relic, and that the Goodwill did not understand that it was selling something other than a normal book.  If nothing else I was “rescuing” the item after discovering what it was, but will be looking into any further steps I need to take to make legitimate and correct.  Any advice as to what to do with it is appreciated.”

The Double Edged Knife: Guilt and the Small Family

One of the strongest emotions I’ve dealt with since officially realizing that we’re on an “infertility” journey is guilt.  There have been plenty of other emotions – the sadness, the anger, the loneliness and so many more, but the guilt is what lingers the longest.

I feel guilty for not being able to fulfill one of the bigger goals of my marriage.  My husband and I got married, among other reasons, to have a family.  We still muse about having “a brood” and cast longing looks at each other when we see siblings playing on the playground or that mother with a shopping cart overflowing with kids at the grocery store.  Now six years in we’ve had a respectable number of children, except that life doesn’t reflect that,  my grocery cart looks sparse and our trips to the playground are a little quieter than they should be.  And I feel guilty for all of that.  I feel guilty for having a body that, while the doctors claim it’s most likely perfectly healthy, doesn’t function and fulfill these hopes and dreams.

Then there is the other side of the knife, the guilt that comes from not being able to relate to other mother’s, from having it easier in terms of the demands of my time, energy and resources.  I will be the first to admit that I think I have this parenting thing “easy” – I have one independent, healthy and reasonable three old.  Of course he’s still a three year old and we have our ups and downs, but it’s different and I’m painfully aware of that.  The reminders are everywhere.  They come from the closest and most well meaning of friends and family and I feel guilty for it.  I feel guilty for the clothes that have only been worn once, the toys the don’t need to be shared and the time that doesn’t have to be divided.

It’s a digging sensation that tells you that you don’t stack up next to the rest – the ones who make multiple PB&J’s for lunch while you make one, the ones who deal with fight and meltdowns constantly while you’re able to focus just the one in front of you, the ones who have to divide their dollars and stretch a penny further than you do,and the ones who have multiple unique personalities and preferences to consider while you’re able to make faster, easier decision.  It all ends up as guilt; the guilt that tells the mother of one or few that she’s not good enough, that she’s not doing enough, that she has no place at the table.  

It’s cyclical; we feel guilty about being infertile, being infertile changes how we have to parent and run our households, which we feel guilty about, which reminds us that we’re infertile.  I’d like to say this pattern is rare, and only comes up on occasions few and far between, but it’s an almost daily cycle for someone in the middle of it all.  We’re reminded by our cycles, our grocery lists, our calendars, the number of bedtime stories or clothes in the closets.  It’s the little voice that tells us that when we mess up our budgets or loose our cool that we are failing that much worse because somewhere out there someone is doing more with less and being better with more.

I wish I could wrap this up in a pretty bow, with a lovely admonition about how I triumph over these feelings and tips and tools for those going through the same, but I don’t.  This is a daily struggle.  It is the reality of the journey I’ve been given.

5 Favorite Boredom Busters {Usborne}

Hey friends!  I’m still doing the book selling thing on the side and wanted to take one post to share some of my favorite boredom busters.

Growing up summer and books went together like peanut butter and jelly (or bananas or pickles, whatever your taste may be).  I love doing my summer readings programs at the library and spending long afternoons with coloring and activity books.  I wanted to share some of my favorites that Usborne Books & More are selling right now.

1.  Activity Cards – perfect for quizzing on long card trips or just flipping through on hot summer days.  My personal favorite right now has to be “100 Things to Spot in the Night Sky”

Discover the treasures of the night sky and learn to recognize its sparkling constellations with these fact-filled cards. See the constellations, find out where and when to spot them, and how they got their names. Find fascinating information about planets, meteors and other starry sights.”
2.  Coloring Books – Who doesn’t love a good coloring book?  I love them as an adult.  This Collected Volume (read: more bang for your buck!) is perfect for the little kids in your life, but don’t worry we’ve have coloring books perfect for all ages.
“Little children will enjoy bringing each picture to life in this delightful book. There are fun things to color, stickers to add, and a yellow duck to spot on every page.”

3. Art and Craft Books – Perfect for long car trips, books like our Big Doodling Book can offer hours of entertainment.

This fun and stylish book is full of exciting things to doodle. Add beaks and hats to penguins, dials and lights to robots, patterns and tongues to snakes, and lot’s lot’s more.

4.  Things to Spot – Anyone else spend hours with “Where’s Waldo?” as a kid, these remind me of those fun books.  I’m a fan of this Collected Volume that comes with 4 of our “Things to Spot” books in one.

Crammed with thousands of things to find, count and talk about, this bright and busy picture book provides hours of puzzle-solving fun, and also helps develop pre-reading and number skills. There are rainforest animals to search for, a bustling market town to explore, a castle feast to enjoy, and much, much more. This volume includes 1001 Animals to Spot, 1001 Things to Spot on the Farm, 1001 Things to Spot in the Town, & 1001 Things to Spot Long Ago.

5.  Encyclopedias – I know some of you are rolling your eyes, but summers are the perfect time to endulge your interests without teachers or homework.  If you want to spend hours reading about Ancient Rome or the Vikings you can and a good encyclopedia is a very useful tool.

This newly updated book will introduce you to world history, from prehistoric times to the start of the 21st century. Find out about dinosaurs, the first humans, Ancient Egypt, the Aztec Empire, Medieval Europe, the First World War and many more fascinating subjects. This combined volume includes: Ancient World, Medieval World, Prehistoric World, and The Last 500 Years.
Thanks for reading everyone!  And if you’d like to host a Facebook Party during June or July and get DOUBLE FREE books just drop me a line —>