My 3 yr old daughter took this pic of me

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Busy Bags

This is going to be my first year homeschooling more than one child. J is starting kindergarten/grade 1 and L is going into grade 7. Plus I have a 2 yr old and 2 babies, so I REALLY needed something to keep my younger ones occupied (and learning) while I am working with my oldest.

My friend, Sharla, just happened to bless me with some busy bags she had made since she had extras...and we LOVE them!

A busy bag is an activity that is stored in a large ziplock bag and has everything in that bag that the child will need for that activity. I store all my bags in a box and pull one out when I need one. You give the bag to your child and THEY DON'T HAVE TO ASK YOU FOR ANYTHING in order to do that activity. They are learning and having fun and staying out of trouble! And when they are done, everything goes back in the bag for next time. Sounds great to me :) Most of these are multiple time use, and a few are one time use. So I am going to share the ones that I've made so far along with a brief description and which ones we like best. (I'm in the process of making more, so I'll do another post on this soon!

Bug Catcher Kit - 2 clear plastic cups (Dollarama pack of 8 was $1), screen door mesh (had some on hand), rubber bands to hold on the mesh, a magnifying glass (had that on hand, too), notebook for documenting or drawing what you catch, and a pen.

Pom Pom Sorting - ice cube tray, plastic tweezers (you might be able to get these at Michaels), 
assorted size and color pom poms. Child can size sort, color sort, etc. Great fine motor activity. Daisy LOVES this one!

Snowflake Patterns - Any color felt or foam for the background, snowflake cards, and snowflake shapes cut out of foam or felt. (Felt is more fun to cut) Then see if you can make a snowflake to match the one on the card or just make your own. Click Here for the printable cards and shapes.

Water Painting. This one is super easy. Plastic cup, different sizes of paint brushes. Just add water and let them paint the deck or the sidewalk or rocks or whatever!

Geoboard Pictures. Geoboard ($5.99 at Education Station) and elastics (we got a large bag of them at Dollarama for $1). You can make shapes or designs or pictures....use your imagination!

Alphabet Sound Matchup - this one is my favorite. What you need: the alphabet (we used foam letters from the dollar store, but you could use letter magnets or just print off the letters of the alphabet on cardstock and cut and protect them with clear contact paper), and an object from around the house that begins with each letter of the alphabet. Then pick a letter and find the object that starts with that letter and match them up!

Bead Sorting - 2 bowls, a plastic spoon, and some beads (or other small objects). Color sort or just spoon the beads back and forth. I suggest using a tray under this activity (or a cake pan) so that the beads don't go everywhere if they are spilled. 

Counting Tiles - I had these foam letters left over from the alphabet set I bought and I had a bamboo placemat (also from Dollarama) that I cut up. I put the numbers 0-9 in the bag and 45 tiles.

Painting - small canvas (set of 2 Dollarama $1), brushes, paints, and an art palette (dollarama $1)
 I need to add a plastic cup for water to this bag. 

Sponge painting - Sponges from the Dollarama (pk of 6 for $1), tempera paints in containers (got these at the dollarstore, too), I still need to add the smock, paper, and plastic table cloth ($1 - Dollarama) to this one, but it wouldn't fit in the bag so I need to use an extra large ziplock bag instead of the large. 

Color Matching  - this one is so fun! All you need are paint chips and clothes pins and glue. You can either grab 2 of each paintchip (to have the extras to make the hearts out of) or you can cut your paint chips in half to make the hearts. 

The kids love this one. Beads and Pipe Cleaners. They love that the beads are stars and that they don't fall off the pipe cleaners.

Necklace Making - Plastic string, Buttons, straws, whatever you have on hand. 

Plate Sewing - plastic needles, yarn or string, foam plate. (I'm not sure where to get the needles, because my friend put this one together but I think maybe Michaels would have them)

Hang up Your Clothes! Clothing shapes cut out of different colors of felt or cloth, string, and clothes pins. Tie the string between to chairs and hang up your clothes :)

 Not sure what this is called, but it's tiny foam balls - the kids like it, so I decided to make it a busy bag.

 Paint chips and Paperclips - learn to put the paper clips on the paint chips or link the paper clips or whatever.

Lacing Shapes - Foam to make the shapes, a hole punch, and some plastic lace (or a shoelace). You could add numbers or letters and make this a dot to dot, too.

Popsicle Stick Puppets - Popsicle sticks and foam animal stickers.

Notebook and Stickers. I have a ton of extra stickers (REALLY cheap at the dollar store) to put in the bag when these run out. 

Wide Popsicle Stick Puzzle - popsicle sticks, picture and glue/or draw a picture on the sticks. 

There are many more to come, but these are what we have so far. I am so excited about our schoolyear! I'm gonna go play now, bye!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Summer 2012 Updates

Hey, so I haven't been around for a long time and I'm going to just give you a quick update before I dive back into "regular" blogging (hey, I'm trying!)

Homemade Baby Formula - so I tried this for a couple-3 weeks and it was ok. K ended up getting some pretty good diarrhea and I found out from a friend that it was because I didn't water down the goats milk half and half  before mixing it up. She wasn't used to the milk, so needed to be eased into it. So I didn't end up trying it again, but I may try it again in the future (with another child seeing as K is now over a year old and on 3% milk and having a lot less colds).

Homemade Deodorant - still love it.

My Office. Ugh. Well, it's not that bad, but it doesn't look a heck of a lot better than it did. My organization in there is greatly improved and the floor is usually kept clutter free - but it's still a bit of a dumping ground and I'm still working on getting rid of as much as possible and figuring out systems that will work for me. Improvement is progress.

No Shampoo - I went "poo free" for about 3 months and enjoyed it. I liked my hair and it was pretty good. A little itchy that first week or two but then pretty good. I ended up having a dandruff problem, which I'm not sure was related, and so went back to regular shampoo and am still using it. Interesting, though, my head is quite itchy quite often. Like every 3 days or so it gets annoying, so I may try some shampoos from the Health Food store in town and let you know what I think of that.

Another Baby! So I have 5 kids now and the addition was quite unexpected and I got, well, half an hour's notice of the change! It was a whirlwind and exciting and crazy and the babies are the same size and the same weight and very near the same place developmentally which makes it "feel" like having twins (although not exactly like twins, one is 5 months and one is 13 months). I still carry, feed, rock, nurture, love, change, dress 2 babies. I have crashed a little once already and now have a cold (and so do all the children, except 1) and I suspect it's because of the new set of germs in the house. :)

The kids are all a little more irritable -

L is tired more easily and a little on edge and overwhelmed, but LOVES the babies and realizes that good stress is still stress. He helps a lot.

 J is as up and down as ever (pray for her) but I'm working super hard at building relationship with her and lavishing her with all the love I can muster. She, too, loves the new addition :)

D loves the baby the most. She ADORES her and mothers her and nurtures her. She is full swing into the "getting into EVERYTHING" stage (cutting up the playpen mesh, eating a tube of flouride free toothpaste, trying to eat deodorant, putting thick diaper rash cream all through her hair and on her hands and feet, brushing her teeth with anybody's toothbrush she can get her hands on, etc etc etc). She is a rollercoaster and a complete joy.

K hated the new baby for the first little while. Not sure why, cuz K is the sweetest baby on earth. It took her a few weeks, but she is warming up to baby P very nicely :) I wouldn't say she loves her yet, but she is definitely ok with her being around now. We love K more every day and she is finally progressing! Crawling (aka crab walk), saying a few words, signing more, responding, sitting up on her own, trying to stand.

 And little baby P is delightfully patient and calm and sweet and chubby and lovely. Her cry is horrible and odd, but it's tolerable since she's such a joy :) 

I'm doing really well, but had to make a few changes and am still making changes.

1. Packing diaper bags and visit bags the night before.
2. Making Matthew's lunch the night before.
3. Working way harder and going on the computer/watching tv way less.
4. Doing housework in the evening instead of winding down and watching tv which means I go to bed a little later and wake up a little tireder and have to nap in the afternoon a bit more often.
5. NOT FEELING THE LEAST BIT GUILTY ABOUT NAPPING. I need my rest. When I don't get it I'm grumpy or get sick.
6. Spending more one on one with the kids.
7. Make batches of bottles the night before so they're ready the next day.
8. Getting out for regular dates with Matthew and regular breaks when I'm overwhelmed. (thanks to the respite fund!)
9. Making 2-4 meals at once and cooking way less often.
10. Getting more and more organized in all areas of my life because I have to. (and I want to)
11. I finally quit teaching Sunday school and so won't be continuing in the fall (unless I change my mind)
12. Lots more paperwork and emails (foster related)
13. Dr's appointments coming out my ears lol

I'll stop there, but I could go on.

What I'm loving right now:

cuddling babies
reading stories
going for walks with my triple stroller
visiting with friends
a clean and organized home
home cooked meals
 taking naps
dates with Matthew
 teaching the kids
 prepping for the school year
 time alone with God
going to church
watching the kids dance to crazy music
 Matthew coming home at the end of the day and the children running to hug him,
encouragement and help from family and friends
 Bible study at my house on Tuesday mornings
coffee (how did that end up so far down the list??? lol)
listening to all my clocks ticking late at night when all are sleeping
watching my babies sleep
having 5 children - Love that.
Summer weather and storms and our borrowed air conditioner
helping friends/family

........I'm so grateful. <3