Friday, May 29, 2009

Library Tote

When I was pregnant with Ben, my OB/GYN office gave me a big tote bag full of goodies. I thought the bag was nice, but it had my doctor's info on the front. No offense to my doctor (I absolutely love her and all of her staff.), but I'm not too keen on advertising an OB office while I run my errands. While cleaning, I pulled the bag out again. Then, I had an idea: If I applique over the logo, this would make a great library tote. It even has a nice interior pocket to hold our library cards.

Into the fabric scrap piles I dove, and a few hours of work later, and I have a new (well, new-purposed) bag. I can't wait to take it to the library and check out some new books!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fishing for Good Food

I found the idea for this game on The Crafty Crow. It was originally posted here. I changed it slightly. Because I am not an artist, I printed clip art pictures of food and mod podged them to the foam. I also hot glued the paperclips onto the backs (faster and less messy). We used the fishing pole I made for the fishing game. We sorted the foods into healthy food and junk food. We also counted the foods in each pile to see who was the winner. This was a great way to get some hand-eye coordination and counting practice. It was also a fun way to discuss healthy foods. We will definitely pull this game out again, especially for Halloweeen!

Going on a Bug Hunt

We're going on a bug hunt. I'm not afraid...

I am attempting to keep my kids from watching too much TV, but keeping them happy while I try to get dinner ready is a challenge without the good ol' DVD player. Andrew loves going on a bug hunt while I cook. The TV is off. He's busy. I can concentrate on dinner. Win-win. Here's how to stage your own bug hunt.

I found this bug net in the dollar bin at Target (have I mentioned how much I LOVE Target?). The plastic bugs were collected from various places, Oriental Trading, The Dollar Tree, etc. Have your child count out 20 bugs (or whatever number he or she can count to independently). Take a good look at them, and have your child hide in another room while you hide the bugs in another room. I give boundaries so they aren't searching all over the house. (ex: they are all in the living room)

Call the kids into the room, hand them the net and let them catch the bugs. I tell my son he needs to count them all at least twice before showing me to make sure they are all found. Then, we count them together, and I re-hide them. If they are having a hard time finding one, give them clues to find the tricky ones. Happy hunting!

ABC and 123 Picnic Introduction

I recently found this site, and love all of the creative ideas. They are hosting a summer picnic, full of giveaways and new ideas. I love a good picnic! This week's picnic "dish" is an introduction. Here's mine. My blog's name is a take on my husband's favorite architectural movement, Arts and Crafts. To read more, look here. I am currently a stay at home mom, of two boys, but I taught kindergarten for 6 years previously. As a former kindergarten teacher, I am always looking for fun, educational things to do with my two little boys (ages 4 and 18 months). I am contemplating either starting my own preschool, or just home preschooling my son this fall. Or maybe I'll send him to preschool (sniff...). I am new to the blogging world, so I haven't posted many learning activities. I have found so many wonderful ideas from others, so I am hoping to be able to share my ideas too. Here are some activities that I have recently tried out with my 4 year old that have been a big hit.

Going on a Bug Hunt

Fishing for Good Food

I also made some lacing cards earlier this year (Andrew loves to sew them at church), and a fun felt fishing game, too.

I am looking forward to more great ideas during this summer's picnic.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Zoo Day

My brother and sister-in-law are here from Cleveland for a few weeks. It has been so fun to see them and spend time together as a family. Andrew has especially enjoyed spending time with his cousins, Caleb and Quinton. Yesterday, we took them to the zoo. Mike had to work (hooray for the chance to work, but sad for us). The weather was perfect, overcast, a litttle humid and not too hot. The boys loved seeing all of the animals. Our favorites: monkeys, elephants, giraffes and tortoises.

They loved running around and getting wet in the splash cave. Andrew "fought" the water spouts. Ben tried to drink the water out of the little stream (yuck!). Caleb tried to avoid getting too wet.

We ate lunch in the children's zoo section with some unexpected visitors. The pushy chickens even ate a cracker out of poor little Benjamin's hand! Caleb was chasing after the chickens and Andrew and Ben were trying to shoo them away.

The boys got brave and pet the goats.
I think they liked washing their hands even better than petting the animals. Seeing kids excited about cleaning makes a mother proud.

They loved riding the animals in the playground. Ben especially liked the cow (or as he calls it, the "moo").

As we strolled along the paths soaking in our beautiful day, Andrew wistfully said to me, "I love seeing Caleb for reals now! When I see him on the computer, that is just seeing him for pretends." (We chat via webcam most Sunday evenings.) Cousin heaven, this week is. If only we had more time to see them for reals, and not just pretends...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Reading in Style

For Mother's Day in Primary, we made these adorable bookmarks with the kids. They were so simple, so inexpensive, and so cute. We die cut tons of flowers out of different colors of felt, layered three, stuck a brad through the centers, added a ribbon and hot glued a giant paperclip to the back. Easy peasy.

Just in time for the next book club meeting...

(You have to love the fact that Andrew chose "boy colors" for my gift.)

What to do with the extras? I'm thinking flower pins, flower hair clips, scrapbook embellishments, picture frame add-ons... Oh the possibilities!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Home Again...

Friday morning I changed a really stinky diaper. I never thought I would say this, but I was so happy to do it. I have missed being home and participating in the everyday joys of housewifery. I missed getting the boys ready for the day. I missed sticky hands and making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at noon. I missed saying, "Do you want to go to time out?" and "Be nice to your brother!" I missed PBS kids in the morning. I may be going a little batty.

I am blessed with a wonderful husband, who has been playing "Mr. Mom" for about a month now, while I have been working full time at a temp job. He got to do all of the cleaning and cooking and disciplining during the day. It is tiring work. He did an amazing job. He has so much more patience than me. I love him even more for doing it. Maybe this life experience is just helping us to appreciate how hard the other one works each and every day.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day Musings

This Mother's Day, I felt myself in a retrospective mood. I thought about what it means to be a mother, which naturally led me to reflect on all of the mothers in my life. To each of these amazing women, I say thank you for inspiring me to be a better mom.

First, I have to recognize my own sweet mother. Her patience, support and unconditional love have left an indelible mark on my heart. To call her mother is an honor. To call her friend is a blessing.

Second, I have an amazing mother-in-law. She is the model of behind-the-scenes, selfless service and devotion. Mike is an amazing man because of her nurturing.

From my creative grandmothers, from you both, I have inherited the passion to create and a generous helping of spunk.

Susan, my "other mother" taught me that you don't have to bear children to have a mother's heart.

I have had several teacher-mothers throughout my schooling. Two in particular, Laurie White and Avis McEachon, taught me that you do not need to give birth to a child to love them, to open your heart to them, and to share your knowledge with them.

To all of the mothers in my life I haven't mentioned, I am continually inspired to be a better mother by all the wonderful women I come in contact with (sisters, friends, aunts, people I meet in the grocery store or the doctor's office...). Thank you. I am blessed.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Pretty Toes

Lately, I feel like I have been neglecting myself. I am working a full-time temp job currently and feel like my time is so small. As soon as the kids go to sleep, I feel this compelling urge to start cleaning and finishing projects around the house. For several weeks now, I have felt discouraged with my image in the mirror. My hair needs a cut. I see dark circles under my eyes. When exactly was the last time I painted my toenails?

It sounds funny, but my toenails seem to be a gauge for how well I am taking care of myself. I look down at those sad little tootsies and think, man, I need to spruce up a bit. So this week, I told myself, "Enough is enough!" and got down to business. Instead of cleaning the bathrooms or washing the dishes, I sat down and polished my toes. In my favorite bold red. So empowering. I felt much better. I felt pretty again.

To the wonderful women out there that I love, don't neglect yourselves. You can still give and serve and nurture while you take care of you. Don't forget you are a Daughter of God, and to treat yourself accordingly. You deserve it.

Love is taking care of yourself, too.