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Posted by on Jan 4, 2014 in Arts, Children, Crafts, Creative, Economical Activities, Homeschool, Kids Activities, Kindergarten, Preschool, Stay At Home Mom, Toddlers | 2 comments

C Is For Camel

C Is For Camel

We’re finding ourselves right down the middle of the line between structured schoolers and unschoolers. No rush, but the kids seem to desire some structure once in a while. This is such a learning experience for all of us!

Part of our latest homeschool curriculum is to choose a letter as well as take turns choosing an animal of the week.

I got the idea to do a letter of the week from Confessions Of A Honeschooler, one of my favorite homeschooling resources.

This week, it was Tavia’s turn to choose so she chose camel. Therefore, the letter of the week is C.

I love that she chose a camel! We learned a lot about camels. I always enjoy learning new things alongside them. Did you know dromedary camels can store up to 80 pounds of fat in their humps?! They can survive on that for a long time in the desert.

We watched a few videos, some educational and some just for fun. The kids got a kick out of Alice The Camel!

Some info came from National Geographic, some from other sources online & from our local library.

We also made some camels of our very own out of egg cartons, markers, glue, & pipe cleaners.

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Posted by on Jan 3, 2014 in Children, Crazy Mom-isms, Creative, Decor, DIY, Economical Activities, Education, Family, Home Decor, Homeschool, Kids Activities, Kindergarten, Library, Lifestyle, Minimal Living, Motherhood, Organize, Save money, Stay At Home Mom | 3 comments

Space Invaders

Space Invaders

20140103-120818.jpgHere’s a little something you may not know about us: We live in a 1200 square foot town home.

Five people. Two bedrooms. One general living room. One kitchen. One dining room. One and a half bathrooms. One garage. One basement.

One work-from-home Mama. Three homeschoolers. One hundred percent childhood energy.

You do the math.

This photo depicts an organized, believe it or not, version of our current set-up for a “play area”. (It may appear a tad hazardous, but not to worry, those shelves are anchored several times to insure safety.) All of our new Christmas presents & overflow of toys have been sorted and arranged. This is pretty much everything the children have, nestled into this puzzle of shelving.

The homeschool area was just relocated yesterday & has to be organized, art & projects hung up, shelving installed. This is depicting the bare minimum.

There is always something more needed in this space. We always need something more to keep us from going bonkers while living in close quarters.

Sure, we have outgrown our space. You’re not the first person to think that, not would you be the first to call me crazy for choosing to homeschool three little ones in such a tight space.

The time will come when we have our own home, but now, life is just too busy and hectic to have to worry about a new roof, a leaky hot water tank, broken windows or a new refrigerator.

We are making due with what we have because that is the way to happy.

We are choosing happiness together. Really close together.

For tips on how to stay organized with lots of toys, books, games, puzzles, and supplies, please don’t ask me.20140103-121935.jpg

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Posted by on Dec 12, 2013 in Children, Christmas, Crafts, Creative, DIY, Economical Activities, Education, Gift Ideas, Handmade, Handmade Holiday, Holiday Gift Ideas, Holidays, Homemade, Homeschool, Kids Activities, Kindergarten, Parenting, Preschool, Stay At Home Mom, This Is Homeschool, Toddlers | 0 comments

This Is Homeschool: Gingerbread Crayons

This Is Homeschool: Gingerbread Crayons

It’s snowy and cold. Winter is here, and so are the holidays…in full force!

As busy as I’ve been, I always try to make time to craft with the kids. For the past several years, we have collected broken crayons from our home, restaurants, etc. We just hold onto them to make our own crayons!

I found a fairly inexpensive gingerbread crayon mold at Hobby Lobby last week (it was 50% off) for a total of about $4.

The kids love to peel stuff (it’s a gene, I swear), so we got to work stripping the crayons. This takes a while, but with a little Christmas music & storytelling, we passed the time fairly easily.

Speaking of time, we’ve been learning about the passage of time – how long is a minute, an hour, a day. We guessed how long it would take to melt the crayons in the toaster oven. We didn’t get too scientific, rather we kept it simple. Each child guessed & Marsden came the closest! Then we did the same for guessing how long it would take for the crayons to cool. Tavia was closest this time.

A fun and pretty time consuming activity – with lots of play time in between!

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Posted by on Oct 30, 2013 in Arts, Autumn, Birthday Parties, Birthdays, Busy B Boutique, Carnival Party, Children, Crafts, Crafts, Creative, DD Lish, DecoArt, DIY, Economical Activities, Family, Featured, Friends, Giveaways, Handmade, Handmade Holiday, Happy Birthday Banner, Holiday Gift Ideas, holiday shopping, Homemade, Memories, painting, Pamela Rayburn Photography, Party, Photography, Precious Peanut Shop, Product Review, Reviews, Save money, Second Seed In Stitches, Shopping, Support Handmade, Tiny Chaos, Work From Home, Working Mom | 1 comment

THE BIG CARNIVAL BASH!

THE BIG CARNIVAL BASH!

Photo copyright Pamela Rayburn Photography 2013

Photo copyright Pamela Rayburn Photography 2013

Our daughter recently turned the big FIVE years old. Since we haven’t really given her a big party (most birthdays have been celebrated with family), we decided to throw her a big carnival bash to celebrate her wonderful self. A carnival seemed fun, easy, and affordable. In reality, it was! My husband & I made most of the games with what we had around the house as well as some inexpensive shenanigans I found at craft stores and local shops. DecoArt sponsored some of the artwork which I used to create one of the games as well as the face paint pens (um, hello?! These were right up my alley!). It helped to have a handy hubby who cut wood & nailed things together for me ;). More on this coming soon…

Photo copyright Pamela Rayburn Photography 2013

Photo copyright Pamela Rayburn Photography 2013

In my quest to support handmade shops, I decided to incorporate different things into the party from both local and distant artisans. This is my new mission on this blog: To support handmade artisans.

Enter beautiful, amazing, wonderful people.

First, I found a phenomenal local photographer who was not only willing to come capture the party in all it’s glory, but she did so in such a swift and lovely fashion that we will likely have her photograph our family for years to come. Pamela Rayburn Photography is owned and operated by Pamela Rayburn herself. She is so kind and such fun to work with! But more on her later *hint, hint*. Just look at these gorgeous captures! (Locals, you should do yourselves a favor & look into booking her for your holiday photos!)

There were so many people involved in pulling this off properly (which happened just by the skin of our teeth!). My husband, as supportive as he is, allows me to get a little lot carried away. The kids were cooperative and had a ball dressing for the part on the day of the party and even lended a hand with decorations and games. My sister, Deidre of DD Lish yumminess, baked one heck of a cake that tasted even better than it looked, if that’s possible. My mom “voluntarily” was coaxed into cooking fresh, homemade tacos for everyone to enjoy (we did our best to serve healthy foods). My dad & best friend were roped into coloring in the signage I created that morning. My brother-in-law donated some grass seed bags from his company Crosman Seed Corp.

Photo copyright Pamela Rayburn Photography 2013

Photo copyright Pamela Rayburn Photography 2013

Then there were the shop owners, artisans who donated their craft to put the icing on the cake!

Did you get a peek at the perfect dress & headband our little t was wearing? That was designed by me, and created in collaboration with Precious Peanut Shop. Julie was incredible to work with. But again, more on that later.

Dress and Headband by Precious Peanut Shop Photo copyright Pamela Rayburn Photography 2013

Dress and Headband by Precious Peanut Shop
Photo copyright Pamela Rayburn Photography 2013

In case you haven’t picked up on my *hints*, these beautiful shops and artisans will be featured throughout the next several months as part of our Fall Frenzy: Festive Fall Features. Stay tuned!

Then there’s the bowtie on our son & hairbow on our youngest daughter. Would you get a load of this?! Tiny Chaos made this set of bows to add to the festivities. She is amazing.

Bow by Tiny Chaos Photo copyright Pamela Rayburn Photography 2013

Bow by Tiny Chaos
Photo copyright Pamela Rayburn Photography 2013

Bowtie by Tiny Chaos Photo copyright Pamela Rayburn Photography 2013

Bowtie by Tiny Chaos
Photo copyright Pamela Rayburn Photography 2013

We whipped up a photo booth with help from Busy B Boutique‘s Bethany Crocker and Nancy Topolski from Second Seed in Stitches. Bethany made some really fun photo props while Nancy crafted the “happy birthday” banner. Fantastic work-woman-ship from both ladies!! I can say it’s been so fun working with Bethany as we’re good friends as well as craft lovers. She even painted a few faces at the party. Talented Mama :)!

Face Paint Pens by DecoArt Photo copyright Pamela Rayburn Photography 2013

Face Paint Pens by DecoArt
Photo copyright Pamela Rayburn Photography 2013

Photo props by Busy B Boutique Photo copyright Pamela Rayburn Photography 2013

Photo props by Busy B Boutique
Photo copyright Pamela Rayburn Photography 2013

Banner by Second Seed In Stitches Photo copyright Pamela Rayburn Photography 2013

Banner by Second Seed In Stitches
Photo copyright Pamela Rayburn Photography 2013

I think those that attended would all agree that C&C Bouncers stole the show with their hoppity-hooping bounce house! Shari & Ted, owners of C&C, are working on opening a great place for fun in the Finger Lakes area so locals, get ready!

Bounce House courtesy of C&C Bouncers Photo copyright Pamela Rayburn Photography 2013

Bounce House courtesy of C&C Bouncers
Photo copyright Pamela Rayburn Photography 2013

It was just SO MUCH FUN and rose beyond expectations of our little ones. They had smiles all day long, as did their friends and family. It is always so wonderful and almost dream-like to have so many loved ones all in one place celebrating alongside us! I think we’re locked into throwing a party like this for each of our children’s fifth birthdays, and we’re totally fine with that. We’ll have to do a little more ourselves next time, but live and learn, right?!

I’m looking forward to showcasing these wonderful shops and artisans, as I’m sure you will, too. Just wait to see what’s in store for you!!

From deep inside our hearts, THANK YOU to everyone who was a part of this awesome celebration. We all appreciate it so!!

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Posted by on Oct 14, 2013 in Arts, Children, Costumes, Crafts, Crafts, Crazy Mom-isms, Creative, DIY, Economical Activities, Etsy, Giveaways, Halloween, Handmade, Handmade Halloween, Handmade Holiday, Holidays, Homemade, peg dolls, Save money, Stay At Home Mom, sweet whimsy designs, sweet whimsy designs, sweet whimsy designs, Work From Home, Working Mom | 17 comments

Homemade Robot Costume & sweet whimsy designs GIVEAWAY! *CLOSED*

Homemade Robot Costume & sweet whimsy designs GIVEAWAY! *CLOSED*

Last year, our 2 year-old (at the time) was MAD about robots (or “Oobots”, as he called them). There was really no option in his mind when it came to dressing for Halloween.

Upon looking at our vast collection of old diaper boxes, crates left over from our summer CSA, and used toys, I decided to create his very own Oobot. I documented it well, however, our computer has since crashed & I have (hopefully temporarily) lost a few years’ worth of photos & videos. I don’t want to talk about that. Instead, I have decided to post this “how-to” make your very own robot costume without detailed step-by-step photos. I hope you get the gist.

Here he is, in his absolute glory!mars robot costumeThe box on his head is a diaper box spray-painted in silver metallic. Also sprayed were three large & three smaller vegetable/fruit crates (you know, the green cardboard) and a red plastic cup. The eyes are painted peanut butter jar tops which were super-glued around the edges to adhere to the box.

The box for the body was an amazon box repurposed with metallic silver spray-paint as well. I definitely used several coats to insure any printing was covered. The boxes’ squares were simply cut out with a pair of scissors. We added padding to the shoulders, as the costume was getting rather heavy & wouldn’t be easy to walk in come Halloween night.

I created a panel on the inside of the body with a piece of cardboard, slightly larger than the opening, covered in tinfoil. The panel was then Duck-taped to the inside of the opening. On the panel, I added a switch plate which I found at Lowe’s for under $1.00. I also grabbed a light switch for chump change along with four white caps & painted everything in a variety of colors from DecoArt Americana paints then outlined in metallic silver puffy paint. Target had some working blacklights in their dollar section, so I purchased two of them & attached them to the top & bottom of the panel with double-sided padded tape.

I also cut an “infinity” shape out of cardboard & covered it in tinfoil to begin the turn-key at the side. After cutting a small “x” slit in the side of the body, I covered a paper towel roll in tinfoil & sliced a slit about an inch long in 2 places to slide the infinity shape & make a key. So easy!

The “Marsbot 2012” was painted in DecoArt Americana Bright Yellow paint (2 coats) then outlined in silver glitter puffy paint. I asked my husband to screw in several plastic gears of various colors that were part of a board game no longer in use. They were loose enough to maneuver & everyone who came close enough would love to play with them! Our son was like a walking toy!!

Likely the most costly purchase for the costume was for the arms. We bought ducts from Lowe’s, costing a total of around $13 with much to spare. I cut pieces long enough to cover his arms and was sure to tuck in the edges to prevent cuts. We wanted to make legs out of the ducts as well but figured it wouldn’t allow him to walk…at all. Good choice, I think ;).

Everything was put together with silver Duck Tape. I just love all the colors and patterns Duck Tape now offers!

The back side had some fun things to see, too. We glued a Frisbee that he painted & some buttons to push.

This costume made heads turn & was the hit at our town’s Halloween Parade where our son won Best Costume for his age group. He received a plaque & was (& still is) so proud!! He marched around the parade beaming & waving to the crowd. He loved being a robot for a day!!

The costume stayed together pretty well, minus a few mishaps, but nothing tape or glue couldn’t fix! He wore it to several occasions & by Halloween night, we wished we had insulated the costume – it was a cold night!!

We can assure you the look of sadness was due to the cold weather & not the awesome costume he was sporting!

We can assure you the look of sadness was due to the cold weather & not the awesome costume he was sporting!

I always seem to raise the bar each year. I have decided this year that I will make costumes only every OTHER year, this Mama needs a break! It is so much fun, though, especially if your significant other is on board to lend a hand.

What are you whipping up for Halloween this year? What are your little ones going to be?! Share & enter to WIN a set of PEG DOLLS from my shop!!

ENTER HERE!!!

wizard of ozsuperhero avengersroyal princess setpeg doll necklace

artdisx

TERMS AND CONDITIONS: One (1) winner will receive a shop credit totaling $45 & will include shipping. Contest begins October 14, 2013 at 12:00am and ends October 21, 2013 at 12:00am. Winner will be announced Monday, October 21, 2013 via sweet whimsy designs’ Facebook page. Prize will be shipped to any of the 48 contingent U.S. states within one week of winner announcement. Entries will be verified.

Full disclosure: I have not been compensated in any way to write this post or feature any companies in this post. All opinions are my own. It was completely my own doing and I hope you never thought otherwise, even for a second :). 

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