Monday, May 28, 2012

Fun activities I made for the boys!

A friend of mine showed me a folder she put together for her daughter that had some activities and fun things for her to do to keep her busy.  I really liked that everything was protected with lamination.  I asked her where she went to get everything laminated and I was SHOCKED to hear that they have personal laminating machines now.  Now, I'm sure personal laminating machines are not a new thing, but I often don't catch the obvious.  Anyway, not only did I find out that there are such things as personal lamination machines, but also that they are CHEAP!!  I bought one (immediately) at Walmart for under $30 and it came with 20 laminating sheets.  I bought 50 extra sheets for about $15 with tax.  I wanted to put together a felt board for the boys for an Easter present, but after reading about how to make one myself I realized that felt boards are almost obsolete and magnet boards are the new "thing".  I just bought 2 metal cookie sheets at Walmart for about $10 and found a lot of cute ideas online for the new magnet board.  Here are all my creations that I've made recently with my fancy-shmancy personal laminating machine for our magnet board.

Decorate a Butterfly- I found this activity here.  I made this one for Austin mostly, but Jackson likes it too.  It's good for fine motor skills and you can play over and over again.  I just cut out the butterflies (there's several colors) and stuck pom-poms on to magnets, and let the fun begin!  PS I found all of these pom-poms at Dollar Tree.  I LOVE the Dollar Tree for craft pieces!

5 Little Pumpkins-  You can find this activity here.  I bought this book for Jackson during his first Halloween and he LOVES this book.  We read it ALL the time, especially around Halloween.  I just printed off the pictures, cut them out, laminated them, re-cut them, and stuck magnets on the back.  And voila!

5 Little Monkeys- You can find this activity here.  This is a rendition with an alligator that I hadn't heard before, but it's fun.  The kids will love the SNAP part.  The words were with the pictures.

5 Little Apples- You can find this activity here.  I hadn't heard this little poem either, but the words are included on the website.

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly-  You can find the pictures here, but I had to google to find the poem.  I LOVED this book when I was little and I found this pinned on Pinterest.

I See a Dinosaur Looking At Me-  You can find this activity here.  This is the same format as Eric Carle's Brown Bear Brown Bear except using dinosaurs.  I fun way to learn/review colors!

Beginning Math Skills-  You can find this activity here.  This is found on the same webpage as the dinosaur activity.  This lady has some super great activities for toddlers and preschoolers.  It's a really great resource for moms!  Anyway, I printed this activity for Jackson because he's ready for basic math skills.  I ran out of magnets, but you get the jist.  She supplied all the numbers and the equation bars for learning basic math squares.  She also provides circles to use as manipulatives until they get the idea of using their fingers.  Jackson loves to mix colors to see what they make, so I'm going to put the colors in the equation lines.  For example:  yellow + blue = ?.  Anyway, just another use/idea.

Tangrams Folder-  You can find the Tangram shapes here and the puzzles here.  Tangrams is an ancient Chinese puzzle that my mom introduced to Jackson.  We ALL have a Tangrams app on our phones (this includes not only Jim and me, but also Grandma Marlow and Great Grandpa Marlow per Jackson's request) so that Jackson can play them on our phones.  Anyway, I found these puzzles of different animals and letters for Jackson to play with and I put them together in a folder.  I made to seperate Tangram puzzle pieces, on set for each boy, and I stuck the puzzles in clear paper protectors.  Warning:  I laminated the Tangram puzzle pieces to help protect them during use, but this makes them easily slide on the page protector, so Jackson gets frustrated.  I need to find a way to help them stick and not slide so much.  Here's the folder and an example of one of the animals and one of the letters.

Dice Game- You can find this activity here.  This is simple and fun!  You have cards numbered 2-12 and you roll the dice and add up what's rolled and then flip over the corresponding number.  The first person to turn over the last number wins.  I found these foam dice at Dollar Tree.  They're quiet so they won't wake up Austin if he's napping.  And big dice are fun!

This is all I've done so far, but I hope I've sparked some ideas for any moms reading this.  Have fun playing with your kids!

Homemade laundry soap

After about a dozen of my friends started making their own laundry soap I decided maybe it's time I give it a try too.  After talking to a friend that I KNOW is a neat freak like me and she has 4 kids with double the dirty, sticky, crayon-laced clothes that I have, and she raved about homemade detergent I was sure I wanted to make my own laundry soap too.  You can find my recipe here.  I was able to get spaghetti stains off of a white shirt and make Jim's dingy work shorts really clean and bright again.  All of this with just one little tablespoon of homemade detergent.  I did pre-treat the dried spaghetti sauce with a bar of the Fels-Naptha soap (found in the detergent) because someone told me it's a great stain remover and pre-treat agent, and it is!

So here's how I made mine...

Step 1:  Gather all the ingredients.  I found ALL of the ingredients in the detergent isle at Walmart.  I did buy the generic Oxy-clean, and it's more than enough for 2 batches of detergent.  The total cost was $17 plus tax, and if you consider that the Oxy-clean will work for 2 batches than the cost of one batch is only about $15.  Nice!

Step 2:  Combine all the ingredients.  I lined a 5 gallon bucket with a trash bag and poured everything in and stirred.  Jim ran the bar soap though the food processor to grate it into small pieces.  I ended up lining another 5 gallon bucket just to make sure that the grated bar soap was distributed evenly throughout the detergent.  NOTE:  There will be a lot of dust so one of those painters masks would be really helpful during the mixing and pouring process.  And stirring is difficult.  I used a very large metal spoon, but a wooden spoon should work just as well.

Here's a close up of the detergent.

Step 3:  Storing the detergent.  In the recipe the woman used a big glass container that she had.  I don't have a big glass container with a lid, so I needed to use something else.  I always head straight to the Dollar Tree when I need some storage bins.  I found these 3 plastic containers with lids and they worked great!  I evenly distributed the detergent into each.  I'm guessing one of these containers of detergent will last 2 or 3 months and I do a lot of laundry.  I'll update after I've used a whole container to tell you how long it lasted.

Step 4:  Me, being me, couldn't just leave these containers as they were.  I had to make them pretty.  I Googled and Pinterested some laundry labels, but I didn't like any of them.  So, I made my own and used clear contact paper to adhere the labels.  It took a few minutes, but this is the final product.  I bought an extra bar of Fels-Naptha to use a stain remover.

SIDENOTES:  I really do LOVE this detergent!  But don't expect the tablespoon of soap to make the water sudsy, it's not going to happen.  If you look in the washer during the agitation process then you'll see the water is a little opaque, but that's about all you're going to see.  Also, you can use the scent crystals (also found in the detergent isle at Walmart) to make the detergent smell like the big name brand detergents, but I still use fabric softner and a dryer sheets with each load, so with those scents there was no need to use the scent crystals.  The detergent has a very mild clean scent to it without scent crystals.  Seriously, this stuff is AMAZING!  Happy Laundering!  

Organizing my bags of ribbon...

I really really need to be organized.  I can't just throw a bag of "stuff" in a closet and call it a day because that bag of "stuff" will start calling me getting louder and louder until it's saying, "FIX ME, I'M UGLY, AND JUNKING UP YOUR HOUSE!!".  You can imagine how annoying this is.  Anyway, I found this super easy fix for $6 plus tax.  I found some paper towel holders at the Dollar Tree and I had some empty paper towel rolls lying around the house (I keep all sorts of crazy things for the boys to make stuff with), and this is what I created in my craft closet (well, Jim put them up for me).  It's perfect!!

Quick Nuffer Catch-up

So I've been totally ignoring the blog this month.  I don't know if I've been too lazy or too buzy- probably a combination of both.  Anyway, here's a quick catch up.
  1. The boys have been sick A LOT!  Austin has been to the doctor more since he turned 1 than Jackson had in his first 3 years of life.  We were going to the doctor a few times a week for awhile.  This is difficult for a couple reasons:  First, I'm a mom and it's hard to see my babies sick.  And second, because I am a germ-a-phobe with OCD (I don't think it gets much worse than that) and I just see germs creeping and crawling ALL OVER MY HOUSE!  The boys never passed around the same virus, thank goodness, but they kept picking up new viruses.  I'm not sure which is worse.  Anyway, as of Saturday night Austin has yet another ear infection.  I'm going to start looking into some more natural ways of keeping in the ear infections at bay like oils, vitamins, and probiotics.  So if any of you have any knowledge of these things or books that I can read about them please share all your knowledge with me.  ;)
  2. My littlest buddy still isn't walking, but he's already showing letter recognition and he'll repeat certain words randomly.  He'll take 2-3 steps then realize he's walking unassisted and fall.  It's all a mental game now.  He's not talking really, but he's great with sign language.  Next Saturday a very good friend of mine who is a sign language interpreter is starting a sign language class for kids and their parents, so Jim and I will be taking the boys to her house every Saturday.  The boys will love it, especially Big Poppa.
  3. Jackson is a very healthy 3 year old, and I know this because he is testing every last nerve I have!  I was a nanny during my undergrad and I learned that the "terrible 2's" has nothing on the "That's it!  I'm selling you on EBay 3's".  I think he just needs to be challenged more mentally, so I'm working on that.  Good news!  We finally found a pre-school that we love that's not full-time.  He'll start St Luke's Pre-school in the fall.  He's super excited and so are we!  In our house we share a car to cut on expenses, so the boys and I will be taking Jim to work M/W/F bright and early at 6am so that I have the car to take Jackson to school, but Jim and I really think it's worth it.  Plus, since I'll have the car I can sign Austin up for some Mommy and Me classes.  He'll have a blast and he'll get some one on one time with mom!
  4. Jim still really likes his job and he's doing well in school.  He made a 3.0 last semester.  I'm very proud of him.  I'm still in graduate school and I'm currently taking the hardest class I've ever had.  I can't wait till I can say this class is OVER!  Too bad I've only finished week 1 or 11.
Anyway, that's us in a nutshell, a really big nutshell, but you get the jist.

George Albert Smith Challenge- April

 "I would seek out the erring one and try to win him back to a righteous and happy life."

So this was April's challenge.  I was very intimidated by this challenge.  Who am I to call someone to repentance when I'm so busy not following all the commandments.  I'm far to busy committing adultery and killing my neighbors to call someone else to repentance.  Well, ok, obviously I'm not committing adultery or killing my neighbors, but I still felt like there was a lot of work to do on me before I could help others find the error of their ways, so that's what I did.  I re-prioritized some things in my own life.  I'll leave it at that, but I did take this challenge to heart.

May's challenge can  be found here.  Basically, it says the opposite of April's challenge.  This month I need to love people through any difficulties they might be having and not judge them.  This reminds  me of a quote from this past conference, "Do not judge me for sinning differently than you".  It also reminds me of a this quote which is floating around Pinterest these days, "Be kind.  For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle".  I really like the last quote.  It not only reminds me that the world doesn't revolve around me (crazy thought, isn't it?), but that I need to be kind to everyone because I don't know what they might be fighting.