Sunday, November 25, 2012

DIY Children's Bookshelf - Book Covers Showing!

The day has come!  I've had the supplies for months , but I finally finished this bookshelf that displays the book covers!  My kids initiate reading tons more now, so I think it's worth every penny and all the effort!!  Here's how it's done...

Materials Needed:
Back Square Piece (34.5" x 36")
1 x 4 x 6' Wood boards (4 boards 34.5" for the perimeter, 2 boards 33" for shelves) 
6 Dowels (this time I tried the square ends rather than the circular ends)
Wood Filler or Wall Spackle
White Primer
Paint color

Tools Needed:
Power drill
Hand saw (to cut dowels to correct size)
Sand paper
Screws (1 5/8 in.)
Countersink tool (to embed your screws so you can cover with filler for smooth finish)

1. Decide what size bookshelf you want.  If you can get a back piece for cheap (like at Home Depot's "Cull Lumber" - which are their discounted scraps usually from 50 cents - $4) that may decide what size you can do.  For my previous bookshelf, I used Lowe's bead board so I had to do 2' x 3'.

I choose to have 4 pieces - 34.5" long.

2. Begin to screw all sides together.  I used my countersink tool to pre-drill holes for the screws.  After the screws were all in, I used wood filler to cover up the holes.  After it dries, you sand those spots.  
3. Screw the backing on.  I had trouble getting my square back to perfectly fit just fyi.  So mine doesn't match up just right.  I ended up having to do a lot of sanding and it wasn't at all perfect - but oh well!  I did about 4 screws along each side.

4. Put in your 2 middle shelves and screw them in along the sides and back.

 6. Sand the whole project.  First coarse and then fine.  Maybe it's because I bought the cheapest electric sander, but I think I prefer just using my hand.  My project could have used a ton more sanding but I just didn't have the time!  At one point I had Penny in my carrier and the kids swarming around me on their bikes in our community laundry room while I tried to bust out the electric sander!  It must have been a funny sight to see.

7. Prime and Paint.  You want to prime the new wood so your wood doesn't completely soak up all your final paint.  I used a roller brush and regular paint brush just for the edges.

8. Cut the dowels (which keep the books in) to just the right size.It's better to cut a little big at first since it's easy to quickly saw to make it a perfect fit.

9. Pre-drill pilot holes through the sides and dowels to prevent breaking the wood.  After screwing each dowel into place on both sides, cover holes with filler/spackle.  I also spackled each corner for a smoother finish.  When dry, sand those spots and touch up paint.

10. And  you have your awesome bookshelf!  I used these corner brackets (directly under the middle shelves, screwed into the wall studs) to make it extra sturdy.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Traditions IDEAS

I did this post last Thanksgiving and thought it may be helpful to inspire maybe ONE new tradition to try this year...

 Here are some of my dreams and also some ideas I've researched for Thanksgiving Traditions:

Thanksgiving Tablecloth.  I really want to get a washable tablecloth that I can pull out only for Thanksgiving Day each year!  I want to buy some permanent Sharpies (Rub-a-Dub kind won't wear off in the wash) and let my family year after year draw or write some things they are grateful for.  Each Thanksgiving we can laugh and enjoy looking back at what everyone wrote!

Gratitude Rolls.  Have everybody write on a small pieces of paper things they are grateful for.  Wrap these papers inside homemade roll dough or store-bought crescent rolls and bake them!  Your children will have so much fun unrolling the surprises. ... You could also do this on their birthdays by having others write something they love about the birthday person! 

Tree of Thanks.  I know many families who do this throughout the month of November.  Family members can write things they are grateful for and glue these papers (which are in the shape of their handprint or leaves) onto a tree.  Some people do a big paper turkey and write things on the paper feathers. 

Christmas Celebration!  On the day after Thanksgiving, I loved as a little girl putting up all the Christmas decorations while pumping out the Christmas music!!

Learn about the Pilgrim Story as a family.  
 CLICK HERE for an awesome website that explains the First Thanksgiving.  Under "Voyage on the Mayflower" you can "Take the Journey" or "Tour the Ship."  Under the "Daily Life" tab, you can learn about the Pilgrims and Wampanoag's housing, clothes, food, chores, school, and games!  Under "The Thanksgiving Feast" tab, you can view the "slideshow" to learn about what they really ate or how this time of thanksgiving was a week long!

Thankful List on Cash Register Tape.  On the awesome website, I read Saren Eyre Loosli's (daughter of Richard & Linda Eyre - who founded Joy School) article about how each Thanksgiving morning her dad would pull out a roll of cash register tape.  "He'd write down everything that he and anyone else who walked into the room was thankful for.  He'd number each item and by the time dinner was ready, we'd have hundreds and hundreds of 'thankful things' on that list.  Dad would drape the list like crepe paper around the dining room and it helped us ponder our blessings as we enjoyed our feast."

Thank You Notes.  Pull out Thank You cards (or even create your own) and have each family member write some notes to send off to others.
Plan some service projects - maybe racking leaves for a widow or baking some pies for a new neighbor or give some of your old toys to a child who needs them.  Nothing teaches us more about our gratitude than serving others!!

Playing Sports Together.  Often the men go out and go manly things together like playing football.  But wouldn't it be fun to also go to the church gym and play sports together as a family?!  Once my family rented out an indoor soccer place for an hour so we all could play soccer (the grownups, kids, even toddlers had a blast passing the ball and running around together).

Gratitude Prayers.  Every year you could have the tradition of expressing only a prayer of gratitude for your family prayer Thanksgiving night.  Encourage each family member to also do the same that night in the their personal prayers.

The Birdie of Gratitude. says: "Have someone toss the birdie of gratitude to someone else; as each person catches it, he names something he's thankful for, then tosses it to another player."  I've seen this idea done in lots of different ways - have some pieces of dry rice under each plate for the amount of thankful things each person has to say.... or candy corn or corn kernels.

Culinary Cornucopia Night.  Every member of the family gets to choose their favorite food and they buy it and prepare it.  One day in November, you enjoy this conglomeration of all the foods you are most grateful for!

For a True/False about the First Thanksgiving CLICK HERE
Thanksgiving coloring pages to print out CLICK HERE
Teach your kids how to talk like a Pilgrim! CLICK HERE or HERE
Some fun CRAFTS:
Turkey Handprint

Turkey out of fall leaves
Fun treats:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Grocery Shopping with 3 Kidlets...

What do you do when you have three little kids but you need groceries?!  Typically one or two or even all three are screaming by the end and everyone is staring.  I try to go when it's just me and the babe because 2 kids squished in those enormous car carts only lasts for so long.  But this was a new adventure ... let the kids each have their own mini carts and items to get!  Good thing I took Steve with me.  It's amazing how they just love being "grown up" and doing anything that Mommy and Daddy do... putting produce of all shapes and sizes in bags, weighing them, scanning and bagging items through the self-check out...  I've got to remember to include them more in what I am doing.  Yep, that's right, we have Oreos in our cart as always.  Oreos are part of our food pyramid.  I think we ended up home with a random can and piece of fruit and almost knocking an old lady over, but it was so cute!  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Snow is Here!

Hot Chocolate and snow and cuddling up with these two kids make me so happy!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Potty Train in 3 Days... It worked!!!!

We finally did it.  My oldest child is fully potty trained.  I secretly worried and wondered if the day would ever come :).  I made my first attempt when my little boy was just 2 and it seemed like he wasn't at all physiologically or verbally ready for it.  Then at 2 1/2, I tried again but it was an utter failure and a totally frustrating experience for all of us!  We tried the method of pumping him with lots of fluids, trying to keep him on the potty practically all day, and making him go to the potty like every 20 minutes.  Then we had a baby, and life was just too crazy.  We ended up back and forth in pull-ups for sleep and running errands and such.  It was NO GOOD.  So we took a break and put him back in diapers.

A friend whole-heartedly recommended "3 Day Potty Training" by Lora Jensen.  It's an ebook that you buy online and then you get the PDF electronic copy and a lifetime of one-on-one mentoring with Lora.  She doesn't just email one to two sentences.  She'll email you full paragraphs to help you with your specific questions.  This lady is brilliant and her method worked amazingly!!!  So here's basically what we did:

For Preparation:
-She recommends potty training as early as 22 months if they are showing the signs of readiness... basically that they have a way to communicate to you the need to go potty.  It worked for us at age 3.  She explains more signs in her ebook.

-Since we had previously started a different method that didn't work, we put him back in diapers completely for at least 30 days before starting this new method.

-we went to the store to let him pick out his own underwear.

-We made it a PARTY!  The night before, I taped balloons, some underwear, and  pictures of him on the bathroom door.

-We Decided on rewards we wanted to do.  For example, putting fuzz balls in a jar and opening up a dollar store gift when it's full.  Or M&Ms or fun stickers, etc.  We chose a special reward for #2 - go-gurts!   

-I stocked my fridge with a fun variety of exciting drinks.  We let him help pick these out too ... I put them all in a big container in the fridge a couple days before we began just to build up the excitement and suspense.

For Day 1:

-He woke up, and we marched to the bathroom to get super excited about our POTTY PARTY!  I over-emphasized how now he was a "BIG BOY" and how PROUD I was of him!  

-The KEY was to STAY POSITIVE and PRAISE continually for 3 days straight.  For 3 days, I needed to believe in him and not get frustrated.  

-We TOOK OFF his very LAST DIAPER and I had him THROW AWAY EVERY DIAPER/pull-up left.  This part is more for the parent than the child.  She says you MUST GET RID of every last one so you won't be tempted to revert back to them.

-Then, he got to pick out HIS FIRST UNDERWEAR to wear!

-We excitedly ran back to the potty, and I explained 2 things:
1. Keep your underwear DRY and
2. TELL MOMMY when you have to go

Absolutely NO more asking him if he needs to go.  You only say over and over again... "Tell Mommy when you need to go."  You now are fully trusting him that by the end of the 3 days, he will learn to tell you.  It may take the full 3 days and lots of accidents, but stick with it, and it will click.   

Tips for Days 1-3:

*For 3 full days, STAY RIGHT BY HIS SIDE!!  The key is to never leave his side so you can catch him "in the act," scoop him up, and run him to the potty to hopefully "FINISH" in the toilet.  Even if he only ends up going one drop into the toilet - PRAISE HIM!!  Stay positive and encouraging even in the midst of accidents.  Keep reminding him throughout the day to tell you when he needs to go, and be super excited every time he does tell you!!
*All throughout the day, praise him for staying dry.  You can ask him if he's dry, have him feel to check, and praise again.  
*NEVER force him to go.  No more making him "try" or requiring that he stay on the potty longer.  
* Since #2 is hard, make sure you pick a special reward that will mean a lot to your child.  To get this part totally down with no accidents, it took actually a little longer than 3 days for us.  
*We never reverted back to diapers/pull ups - even for naps and nights.  We did go through accidents and changing sheets and washing lots of underwear those first few days.  But he learned by following the steps Lora recommends for nap/sleep time...  We didn't give him liquids 2 hours before bedtime (which was a total change for us).  Check out the ebook for more suggestions and tips.  She has great ideas that totally helped us.  I honestly was suspicious that it wouldn't work, but he did it!!!!!  

There are so many potty training methods out there, but I'm so grateful that this finally worked for us.  THERE IS HOPE for us mothers!  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I Love My Little People!

I love how care free little kids are.  They find pure delight in even the smallest things!  I'd like to be more like them when I grow up.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fun Indoor Activities

Here's some ideas for INDOOR fun:

We love doing colored shaving cream in the bathtub.  I put the food coloring drops in an old muffin tin and fill each hole with the cream.  Then the kids love to watch as I mix up each color.  The clean up is super easy as you just start the bath water and do a quick wash down... on the tub and the kids!

Get  huge boxes to explore and create! This is every little kid’s dream. I went toLowe’s and a furniture/appliance store for our boxes. We cut in half large refrigerator boxes that they were going to recycle anyways! The kids decided where they wanted me to cut the doors and windows and we even painted them. 

Maybe do a little "preschool" at home. THIS WEBSITE has lots of fun themed ideas for a "mommy school"!   She has "T is for Thanksgiving" for the month of November. 

Puffy Paint 
Combine the following in a bowl:
1 part self-raising flour
drops of food colouring
1 part salt
Then add some water to make a nice smooth paste.  

**I ended up doing 2 c. flour + 2 c. salt and enough water to make somewhat thick consistency.
Paint away on a nice thick sheet of cardboard (we used plastic spoons to spread on cardboard, could try cotton balls or paint brushes).  Microwave the design on high for 15 - 30 seconds (depending on how big and thick the painting is) until the paint puffs and it's all nice and dry.

Build a Fort and read books with flashlights inside.  Or even put up your camping tent!  We even draped Christmas lights around.

Cook & Bake.  Follow a recipe together! Have your child wear an apron and “help” you with every step. Sure it will make a mess - but they will have so much fun!!

I have sweet memories of playing restaurant with my grandma.  We would type out - yes with a typewriter :) - the menus and even create menus.  Grandma would be our "waitress." Maybe you could even teach good manners.

Fun with BOOKS:  Act out a book you are reading – for example do some of the actions as you read the “If you give a mouse a cookie” book.  

At our local library's website, I can request ALL the children's books I want.  Then the next day I go and the librarian has all those books on the same shelf with my name on it!!  It's absolutely brilliant!

Send a letter/package or draw a picture for a friend. Maybe create a package with goodies or gifts for a family member.  Teach them about envelopes and how to put on the stamps.  I bet a trip to the Post Office would even be fun.

What do you do to survive the winters with kids?!