Spookin’ it Up!

I saw this post by Thrifty Decor Chick and thought to myself, “How cute, but I will NEVER do that.  Too much time and effort involved.”

Two days later and my front door looks like this:
(with a little girl doing her “spooky face.”)
It all started when I went in my craft closet (aka craft mess that desperately needs a professional organizer) to find fabric to make an eye patch for No. 1 (I’ll blog about that later).   I was digging around and found a huge roll of crepe paper that I got at a yard sale a few years ago for 25cents.  It was a little off-white instead of the pure white that TDC used.  Mr. Pencil helped (have I mentioned how patient he is?!) by tearing bits of masking tape for me.  It was so much fun to do . . . for the first 3 minutes.  After that, it was kind of tedious and annoying, but I didn’t want Mr. P’s “why are you doing this” face to last much longer, so I persevered.

I just taped strips of the crepe paper (my package was 500ft and I used about half of it) in a criss-cross fashion and then free-handed the eyeballs.  TDC made a mouth, but I decided that one mouthy mummy was enough for this house, so he’s mute!  (and all God’s people my family said, “Amen!”)

I’m wishing I had done more strips, but I will probably wait until after Mr. Pencil goes to work so he won’t have to roll his eyes one more time it sags like TDC’s did!  =)

And lest you think I’m super Halloween Decor Woman (that wouldn’t make for a very good superhero movie, I’m afraid), I’ll assure you that this is the one and only Halloween decor thing I’ve ever done.  In my entire life.  I tend to stick to Fall and Thanksgiving, so this was definitely going outside of the box for me!  But I think he’s kind of cute and festive and gives our Fall wreath a break for a few weeks!  =)



Letter O

Three cheers for letter O!  Or more like: three cheers for Friday!

We are done four weeks of school and it feels like we just started . . . four weeks ago!  ha! It really HAS been great and we’re both still loving it.  This week was just a difficult one for a lot of reasons.  We took the day off yesterday because of MOPS and because the teacher needed a break.

Today, however, we were back on track and worked double time to make up for yesterday.

Here are some pictures of our week:
(don’t forget that our worksheets come from Confessions of a Homeschooler, and if you don’t believe me yet, I’ll tell you again:  they’re wonderful, Erica is wonderful, her website is  wonderful, and you really need to check it out!)

Library books for the week:Coloring Page:
Number Tracing:Letter O joined the other vowels on our Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Tree:O is for Ostrich craft (she named her Olivia):
Cut and Paste:Octopus Size Sort:
How Many Game:Graphing (for Letter I we colored in the squares, but today we decided to use Unifix Cubes instead):

Rainbow Party

No. 1 turned four in April and requested a Rainbow Party.  I happily obliged because it was such a fun theme to get carried away with plan!  I started by pinning a zillion ideas and then pared it down to what was manageable for even my OCD OZMEMCTINTB (Over Zealous Make Everything More Complicated Than It Needs To Be Disease)  But, let me tell you, it was F-U-N to plan this party and make all the decorations, etc.  And it was a really fun party for the kids, as far as they have told me, anyway!  No. 1 LOVED it and still talks about it like it was yesterday!

I thought I would post some pictures since this little old blog didn’t exist way back in April.

I had a little table and chairs set up with books all about rainbows (from the library).  I didn’t get a picture of that, unfortunately, but here’s No. 1 and two of her friends sitting and reading books calmly.  What you don’t see are the boy party goers running amuck in the background!  Boys!  They add such LIFE to a party!

I made this bean bag toss out of a cardboard box.  I cut it and used duct tape to make it triangular.  I traced three different size bowls and cut them out with an X-acto knife.  Then I painted it (spray paint would be easy, but I just used a can of what I had).  Then I used puff paint to make little dots so it would fit the rainbow color theme.  The bean bags are balloons filled with rice.  I assure you that I DID NOT do this in my bed and make a big mess and call downstairs to my husband to bring up the vacuum.  That would just be ridiculous!This is the only shot that almost shows the decorations out in the yard.  A friend gave me some lollipops she made for her daughter’s birthday party.  They were six styrofoam circles covered in tissue paper shoved onto a dowel and covered with cellophane.  I took off the cellophane and tissue paper and traced them onto red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple construction paper.  I hot glued a construction paper circle on both sides and then a strip to go around the outside.  Then, I freehand cut a black number 4 and glued that on the front.  I bought new cellophane and covered each one and tied them with a coordinating colored ribbon and placed them in the garden.One of the craft tables.  I dyed penne pasta in rainbow colors and had the kids make necklaces by stringing them onto yarn.  They had fun after Captain America flew in to show them how it was done.  (Does Captain America even fly?  I have no idea.  I have girls in my house!)

We also did another craft with Froot Loops, but I don’t have a picture of that table.  Each child had a sheet of blue card stock and they glued Froot Loops on in the shape of a rainbow and then glued cotton balls to the ends to make clouds.One shot of the food table.  Jello cups were time-consuming, for sure, but totally worth it and YUMMY!Lollipops!  Yes, I made a ridiculous amount of lollipops.  It seemed easier to do an entire batch of each color than to figure out how to split it into six colors.  And being a sufferer of the aforementioned OZMEMCTINTB, I wanted each child to be able to pick the color they wanted without them running out!  The glass jars that they are in are actually from candles.  I melted down a few that I didn’t care for/were almost gone and my mother-in-law sacrificed a few of her’s that matched!  She also worked so hard at cutting each little paper confetti by hand to fill each jar.  Okay, okay, she used a paper shredder, but still she worked very hard to make them all look so nice!  (there’s a piece of florist foam in the middle that the lollipops are shoved into and the paper shreds cover that up)Fruit Platter!  I bought a clear plastic tray from the $1 store since I don’t really have serving platters.  Then, I chopped had my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law chop the fruit and layered them in a rainbow pattern – strawberries, oranges, pineapple, kiwi, blueberries, and purple grapes.This is the dress I made for No. 1.  I used this post as a guideline.  It’s a really easy-to-follow tutorial!  I bought T-shirts in each color at the craft store, but the smallest size they had for the red was way too big and it would have looked like a striped tent.  So, I found a tank top in No. 1’s drawer that fit and cut that.  The top of it had three patriotic appliqués, so I made T-shirt roses to cover them up and sewed them on by hand.  The rest of the dress was SUPER simple!  The best part?  Because of the material, you don’t have to hem the bottom (purple layer).  Just leave it as is, and it won’t fray!  Happy!

Please note the huge bandages on my poor girl’s knees!  After the party, she was just exhausted, but I realized that I hadn’t taken any pictures of her dress.  So, I asked her to come outside really quickly so I could snap a few.  She ran out there right away and immediately tripped and skinned both knees on the driveway!  Poor sweetie!  After we put the bandages on and wiped her tears, she was more than happy to walkverycarefully outside to get her picture taken.  Don’t ask why her hand is up in the air because I will just say, “I have no idea, but I wasn’t about to make her stay longer for a better picture!”Cake!  I had visions of a beautiful ruffled rainbow frosting cake like this one or a checkered one like this one, but when it came right down to it, I just didn’t have the time or desire to go nuts with the frosting.  Instead, I decided that sprinkles were a fan favorite, so the entire cake got the royal sprinkle treatment!  (and now it turns out that sprinkles are all the rage.  Let’s pretend I started that with this cake, mmkay?)

No. 1’s second birthday cake was also a rainbow layered cake just like this one, but she didn’t remember it, so this one was like magic when we cut into it!  Win!

Party favors!  I made these with my Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Tool, otherwise known as my third and favorite child! *wink wink*  The tag says, “Thanks for being the pot of gold at the end of my rainbow!”  Inside are some of these tasty little treats.  They’re so easy to make and they’re pretty addictive!Another view of the Treat Table with the balloons Mr. Pencil hung!  We had tons of balloons, but they just kept popping on the deck and we decided it was better to not sacrifice our marriage trying to come up with ways to hang them, so we hung these and called it done!The water bottle labels were made by printing them in my Silhouette software and having the Silhouette cut them out, then taped on the bottles.  The rainbow cookies were a basic butter cookie recipe and were really easy.  The not-so-easy part was making them all exactly the same size (maybe I was just rushing), but it didn’t matter!  They were pretty and tasted really good too!  I also made rainbow chocolate covered Oreos because I can’t leave well enough alone!
The green container is from the $1 store.  It had clear plastic silverware wrapped in rainbow striped napkins and tied with rainbow-colored ribbons.  I wanted to have solid colored plates and napkins in every color of the rainbow, but I couldn’t justify the expense of buying 6 packages of each when we only needed one for how many guests we had.  It was, honestly, a hard thing for me to let go because I thought it just wasn’t going to look good to have only one color, but I let No. 1 pick and she chose blue plates and purple cups.  And it was just fine!  It was a good lesson for Mom in Letting It Go!  It doesn’t have to be perfect for it to be fun!!  The same goes for the straws.  I found some adorable ones on Etsy and other party sites, but $12 plus shipping for straws?  I don’t think so!

Another view of the OHMYGOODNESSALLTHESUGAR Table!
Top left: rainbow popcorn (my heavens, we threw out an entire kitchen size trash bag of uneaten rainbow popcorn after the party!  I made WAAAAY too much!), sprinkle cake with candles from the party store, rainbow Rice Krispie Treats (using Fruity Pebbles instead of Rice Krispies), layered Jello (I ran out of whipped cream, but don’t you know, there were kids there that wanted the ones without!), ice cream dishes with jelly beans and M&M’s ) (because we had them left over from Easter and they kind of went with the theme, which at this point you’re thinking was Sugar Party.  I assure you, it wasn’t my intention to send the guests home with a sugar buzz to last the rest of the week.  But, sometimes the best laid plans . . . )

I don’t have a picture of the ice cream.  That was another one of those things that would have been a whole lot easier to just serve vanilla ice cream.  But when you’ve already gone so far over the top with everything else, who wants just plain old vanilla ice cream when you can have layered rainbow ice cream?!  It was insanely sweet, and I actually didn’t like it at all!  *gasp*  It was just too much sweet!  But here’s the recipe anyway, in case you‘re a glutton for punishment have a mouth full of sweet teeth.  I ended up using 1 1/2 of those big buckets of ice cream and layering them in a disposable lasagna pan.

So, that’s Rainbow Party of the Century (well, until No. 2 requests one because I just might want be talked into planning another one!)

Letter I

I’m a little late posting about last week, and I apologize to those of you (hi, Mom!) who have been sitting on their edge of their seats just waiting for a new post. Last week we learned the letter I.  The worksheets are from Confessions of  a Homeschooler.  The Iguana craft idea was from Totally Tots. Here are a few pictures from this week.  This is, obviously, not all we did.  Just a sample. This is a tracing page.  I put it inside a clear page protector and No. 1 uses a dry erase marker.  When she’s done (and while she isn’t looking!), I wipe it clean and put in back in my Letter of the Week binder to save for No. 2! This is a page for learning to write numbers.  I should have done the page protector thing for this also, but I forgot and took it out and gave it to her with a pencil!  Oh well.

This is No. 1’s Iguana craft.  She decided that all of her letter animals need to have a name!  And this one is a rainbow because that’s a theme she repeats often!  =)No. 1 also watched the LeapFrog: Letter Factory DVD and played on Starfall.  And meanwhile, this is what No. 2 was doing to occupy her time!   Yup, filling her shirt with crayons and Little People animals!  She’s a trip!

Our Homeschool Room

Here it is!  Our homeschool room.  We still have some changes to make (not the least of which is taking better pictures!), but it has come a long way since it was a nursery just over a month ago!  It’s funny, but I don’t think No. 2 even remembers it was her bedroom!  Now, it’s just the room where she goes in and pulls things off of the shelves and dumps them on the floor!  Oh joy!

I love this room!  The rocking chair was part of the nursery, and we didn’t have another spot for it, so it stayed out of necessity.  But, I LOVE having it in there!  We read LOTS of books there and I like to sit and just look around at everything (and smell the pencils, of course!)

Maybe it’s because I’m a crafter, but I tend to flit from one project to the next.  One day I’m all about making beads out of clay and the next I’m sick of that and I’ve moved on to Mod Podge-ing everything in sight!  So, even though I’m a teacher to the core, I was still a bit afraid that I would set up this room, organize the life out of it, plan out the whole school year and get one week in and decide I was tired of it.  Thankfully, it’s just the opposite!  Yes, I have days when I’d rather plunk myself on the couch to enjoy the quiet during No. 2’s naptime.  But, we’re plugging along happily and I tell Mr. Pencil almost everyday (he’s infinitely patient!) how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE teaching my girl!

This is the shelf that Mr. Pencil built for me.  It will eventually get painted some super exciting, fancy color like white!  In the back of my head where the rebel lives, I imagine painting it apple green or turquoise, but the boring person in the front of my head will probably win out and go with white.  And that’s fine because I do love me some glossy white painted furniture!  It makes my boring self’s skirt fly up!  Anyway, this shelf does need a little more somethin’ somthin’, but I’m not sure what exactly.  Maybe some sort of larger drawers on the top for all that random little stuff.  The basket on the floor holds our library books.  We get new ones every week to match the letter we’re learning, and the basket makes it very easy to just grab them, plunk them in our library bag and take them back!

I’ll have a separate post about that dreamy drawer thing that you can barely make out due to the blurriness.  It’s one of my favorite things.  EVER.  Besides the crazy pencils that live with me, of course!  On the right side of the shelf is my red hanging pocket organizer.  It has 8 pockets, I think.  I only use 5 that hold file folders for each day of the week.  I put all of the worksheets we’ll be working on and just pull out the folder when we’re ready to begin!  The bottom two shelves are children’s books.  I’d love to tell you that’s our entire collection, but then the entire shelf full in the girls’ room would feel unloved!  (Is it a problem if I’m addicted to children’s books??)

This is our Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree.  We read the book on Friday and hang up the letter we just finished learning.  Next to that are the letter crafts we’ve done.  The Alligator has teeth that are hard to see because of the light color of the wall (I would love to paint the walls, but now that everything is all set up, I break out into hives just thinking about moving everything to paint!)  The elephant was named Sophie and given a flower by her ear because No. 1 just can’t handle the thought of something being a BOY!  *gasp!*  Under that is our USA map.  It’s actually a vinyl cling map with individual vinyl cling states on top.  It’s colorful and happy.This picture just shows our word wall that I named Wise Words since our “theme” is owls.  I need to make more owls to drive the theme home, but you’ll see them here and there in our room.  In that little space at the bottom of the word wall is a push pin.  Although it isn’t there right now, I have a little flannel washcloth hanging from a binder clip that No. 1 uses to wipe off her dry erase markers.

Next is No. 1’s little desk and chair that I got from Craig and his list.  I love them!  The rebel in my head will probably win this battle and paint them something exciting!  To the left of that is our 100’s chart, then Mr. Pencil and No. 1 doing something on the computer, though I don’t remember what!  Looks like youtube, maybe.  The computer sits on a rolling cart that holds, well stuff.  The top drawer has my pens, scissors, etc.  (I have a piece of masking tape holding it shut because No. 2 thinks it’s the best thing ever to open it up and dig around in there for treasure!)  The next drawer hold current projects – things I need to laminate, cut out, etc.  The bottom drawer holds note pads, post-its, etc.  I have too many of those!

On the wall above that is our morning board.  I’ll do a separate post about that.

Owl themed cheezy phrase that makes me smile!  This spot may end up being a whiteboard eventually.  Under that is the shelf of supplies that No. 1 can access.  There are math manipulatives GALORE, paper, crayons, pencil sharpener, clock, etc.  To the right is where we hang our collages for each letter and other things that No. 1 deems hang-worthy.

Oh – between the last picture and this I somehow forgot to take a picture of the closet door.  Not too exciting.  It just has owls of every color that I laminated and hung there.  No. 1 obviously knows her colors, but they’re pretty adorable and No. 2 is learning her colors now!

Close-up of this shelf with all it’s colorful manipulative-y goodness!That’s it!  I hereby do solemnly swear to take better pictures and make more detailed posts about the things I promised and yada yada yada.

Apple Pie Crockpot Oatmeal

A friend of mine shared this recipe on facebook recently.  It was really good, but I’m not too much of a pumpkin pie fan.  Horror of horrors, I know.  I don’t like coffee either.  Feel free to unfriend me at any time!

So, I tried the pumpkin pie recipe and the girls really liked it!  Me?  Notsomuch.  It was tolerable, which is better than loathing, so maybe it was a success?  But as I was eating it, I thought, “I really just like apple pie better!  Why can’t I make an apple pie version?!”  So I did!

Here’s what I did.  Everything besides the oats and water are optional so pick and choose what you want to add.  I added raisins because they’re a fan favorite in my house and it’s a perfect way to use up raisins that have crossed over to the crunchy side.  (Side note: If raisins are dried up grapes, then what are dried up raisins?  How is that even possible?)

Apple Pie Crockpot Oatmeal

1 cup steel cut oats
4 cups water*
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup raisins
pinch salt

*(most recipes say 3 cups for 1 cup of oats, but my crockpot must be extra hot because 3 dries it up.  Experiment with this!)

Nutmeg would also be nice, if you’re into that sort of thing.