Thursday, September 22, 2016

Making Paper: A Tot School Adventure

Hello, It's Michelle from Teaching Eternity.  If you follow me on Instagram you know that despite the fact that school has started up I am still attempting #TotSchool activities with my son (henceforth known as Small Fry).

One day I had finished cutting out large bulletin board letters with my Cricut and was left with a bunch of scraps of neon card stock.  Rather than throw it away I decided I would make a #TotSchool activity out of it, and Small Fry and I would try making paper.  This blog post is not about how to make paper, although if you don't know how you'll learn.  Rather this is about the adventure of making paper with a Tot.

September 14, 2016:  I tried using my dinky at home paper shredder to shred this card stock, but I ended up breaking the shredder.   So I ripped it instead.  At first I put only a little bit of water in, but that wasn't much fun so I added more, enough to make the paper float.  I put the paper and water in one of our shoe box sized containers, put that container and Small Fry in the under the bed Fun Bin, and let him play around.  At first he enjoyed squishing the papers around but soon we discover that they stuck to his arms and legs. I'd stick one on, he'd giggle and pull it off and ask for more!

September 16, 2016:  After letting the paper set for 2 nights I threw it in the blender.  It didn't take long for it to turn into this mush!  Again I put the mush in a small bin inside the big bin, and Small Fry sat in the big bin.  This really helps to cut down on messes.  We used measuring spoons to scoop and dump the mush.  I thought about hiding some magnetic letters or plastic animals inside, but Small Fry didn't seem to keen on touching it.  I thought it felt really nifty - soft almost.

September 17, 2016: The next day we scooped all of that paper mush out onto a screen.  I got THIS ONE off of Amazon.  I didn't plan it this way, but it fit perfectly in the large Fun Bin.  It sat right on the ledge on the inside.  I do not have any great pictures of this one since I was busy making sure our mush made it onto the screen instead of the carpet!
After getting all of the mush onto the screen we had to press some of the water out.  I used paper towels for this.  This took quite a few rounds of pressing then wringing out the paper towels.  In the end there was a lot of water in the bin underneath.
I set the screen up on the kitchen counter (out of Small Fry's reach) to dry.  I propped it up on some little bowls to hopefully help it dry faster.

September 21, 2016:  Our paper was finally dry.  Truthfully it finished drying out on Monday, and I put it under some boxes to flatten it, then forgot where it was!  This was not the best paper.  It was more like really bumpy cardboard.  I think that was because I'd used card stock rather than regular paper.  It was also very fragile.  About 10 minutes after this picture one of the corners had been ripped off and there was a quarter sized hole in the middle.  (Small Fry loved holding it up to peek through!)

So, would I do it again?  The ripped paper and the mush part - yes.  The rest I may do again when he's older and can appreciate how cool it is to actually make paper and then use the paper he made.


Friday, August 5, 2016

If a mom makes it to nap time

If a mom makes it to nap time...

She will start a pot of coffee in anticipation of getting a lot done!

While she is waiting for the coffee to brew she will notice the breakfast dishes still on the table.  She will start rinsing and putting them in the dishwasher.  This is when she will remember they are out of cereal.

So she will go looking for a pen and pad of paper to start a grocery list.  She will look in the living room.  No pen and paper, but she did find one dirty sock and a discarded towel.

Knowing she'll find pen and paper in the office she treks upstairs.  She sits down at her computer desk and sees the email notification from her favorite place to shop (they're having a sale).  She'll go on the site and see the new bedding sets.

Which will remind her that she put the comforter in the washer last night.  Fearing that mildew smell she'll race downstairs to put the comforter in the dryer.  On the way she will almost trip over the dog toy left in the hallway.  This will remind her that the dogs need to eat.

She will head to the closet, but the dog food container is empty.  She will go into the garage to get a new bag of dog food.  When she opens the garage door she will see the garbage cans and recyclables bins all but overflowing, which will remind her that she needs to put out the trash.

Before she can take out the trash though she needs to make sure the garbage cans throughout the house are empty (hint: they're not) .  So she will go upstairs to collect it all. When she steps into the bedroom she will notice the unmade bed.  She will remember her goal of making the bed every morning! Sitting on the nightstand next to the bed is her tablet.  She decides to watch one episode of NCIS before getting the rest of her work done.

So she gets into bed, props herself up on the pillows and before the opening credits she is nodding off. And chances are good, the second mom nods off the baby will wake up, and she'll need that pot of (now cold) coffee to get through the rest of the day!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Back to School: How to Get out of the House ON TIME with a TODDLER!

Hey, ya'll! It's Lindsay from Primary Polka Dots and I'm excited to share some #teacherhacks that helped me get out of the house fast and on time last year with all the business a morning can bring with a toddler! There are 5 simple things you can start doing now that will help you and your family move faster, more efficiently, and as organized as possible on those early school mornings!

For the past 3 years, I've taken a break from the classroom. It was a well-needed breather to catch up on life, finish my master's degree, and be a stay at home mommy! Although I enjoyed my time away from the classroom, I started feeling the tug to step back in around the beginning of last school year. My son had just turned 1, and I wasn't ready to leave just yet.

However, I was presented with an opportunity to cover a 7-week maternity leave during the last 8-weeks of the 2015-2016 school year. I debated, I prayed, I thought, and I took it. 

Up until that point, I'd only ever been a wife and teacher, never  and wife, mommy, and a teacher. With the added tiny human, comes much responsibility (and chaos) in the mornings as I left for school each early morning.

Thankfully, my husband is able to take my son to childcare, but I wanted to do all that I could to help us all get out of the house on time and with as little chaos and catastrophe as possible. 

As I get ready to start back in my own 6th grade classroom next week, I thought I'd share what worked for our family to get us out the door, on time with an-almost-2-year-old in tow, and in an organized manner on school days.

Tip #1: Lay out #alltheclothes for the Week
I realize that this may  sound a little nutty. I get it. I see these tiny piles of toddler clothes in the picture before me. But, here's why this works. 

So, we all have to do laundry. (Ew. And I hate doing laundry. I'd rather have my formal observation on a Friday morning. Before Christmas break. After eating sugary treats.) I decided to pair up little outfits as I do laundry and lay them out for the week. In this picture, I did it for two weeks, because I know I'll be nuttier than a fruitcake next week during the first week back to school.

We just grab an outfit as we get him out of his crib, and stick his flip-flops on (that stay by the front door), and he's ready to go. No thinking, just doing. 

Also, I try and at least coordinate my clothes for the week. I'll start off my having all my clothes, accessories, and shoes downstairs and laid out for the first few weeks, at least. This is just one less thing I have to worry about for the week. 

Tip #2: Prep what you CAN the Night Before
For me, the night-before-prep is part of my daily, simple routine as soon as I walk in the door (I'll share more about that for Tip #5). 

I have put two sticky notes in the fridge and at night, I just fill up two clean sippy cups: one with milk for breakfast, and one with water for the sitter's house. This way, we just grab this milk, his breakfast, and set it on the table for him when he wakes up. This simple, fast prep truly does save time in the morning.

Also, I make my lunch the night before. I have a giant 52 ounce water jug (aka - jug baby) that I take with me every day to school. I fill it with ice at night, stick it in the freezer, then just fill it with water on my way out the door.

 Quick, easy, time-savers.

Tip #3: #teacherbag & Shoes by the Door
The night before, I stuff everything I'll need to take with me in (one of) my bags. Since my commute to school is 35 minutes, I can't waste time looking for something that I need that very day. Also, I put my shoes that I am wearing by my bag so I don't forget my bag that is prepped, stuffed, and could be used in a weight lifting contest. (OH! And put your keys the same place everyday when you walk in the door! TIME saver!)

Tip #4: #becausecaffeine, Prep the Coffee Pot
So, this could technically fall under the "Prep the Night Before" tip, but caffeine is so important in my life, I truly needed to make this an extra tip in case it was important to you! ;)

Growing up, my parents always prepped the coffee the night before. I need strong coffee, so I the Keurig had to go once the tiny tot came around. And before I can function in the morning, I need a cup (or 17). So, at night, I just pour the water into the pot, put the grinds in, and set out my coffee cup. Our coffee pot has a timer on it, so I set that as well. If yours doesn't, you could still do this, and as soon as you get up, just push "start" while doing something else. Time saver, and you don't have to fumble around making noise if your family is still sleeping. 

Tip #5: Create a short, daily SIMPLE Routine

Everyday when I walk in the door, this is what I do:
1) Put my keys on the hook, hang up my purse, and my son's bag
2) Go directly to the kitchen, unload the clean dishes from the dishwasher 
3) Start dinner prep
4) Reload the dishwasher with dishes from breakfast, lunchboxes, and my son's cups from the day
5) Make my lunch and my son's sippy cups
6) Clean out the coffee pot from this morning's coffee, and prep it for the next morning

This quick, simple daily routine maybe takes 20-25 minutes each afternoon. However, it helps keep everything else flowing. I now have space in the dishwasher to load dirty dishes from supper (because I can not stand dishes left in the sink). I also have completed 2 tasks above that help the next morning run smoothly.

What simple routines do you have that help your mornings run smoother as a #teachermama? I'd love to hear them!

I hope and pray your school year runs smoothly!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Transitioning from One to Two Kids

Hi Everyone!

Martha from Primary Paradise here, and today I want to share a few tips that might make the transition of having a second child a little bit smoother.

My daughter is 2, so before the baby came, she understood SOME of what we were telling her, but obviously not everything. One thing we found very helpful, in addition to talking about the baby in mommy's belly, was to find some really great books on the subject. Here are a few of my favorites. (Click on each picture to check it out on Amazon).
The first book we loved was Snuggle the Baby. This interactive book is adorable and helps little ones understand what babies do and how to care for them. It even has a little baby they can take out. My daughter absolutely loved this book and it was great for discussing how to care for baby.

I am a huge Dr. Sears fan, and this book geared towards children is a fantastic book that helps them understand what to expect when mom has a new baby. It has a bit more detail than my 2 year old needed, so we shorted some of the text, but this was also one of her favorites.

This book was perfect for little, little ones. It shows a child who is waiting for their mommy to have a baby and all of the questions they might have. 

 Another helpful thing we did before the baby came was to have my daughter help prepare for the baby. We included her in washing the baby's clothes and putting them away, she "helped" put together the rock and play, and she came to our ultrasound and midwife appointments. My midwife even let her help check the baby's heartbeat, which she loved. I think helping her feel included helped make the transition much smoother.

Once baby sister arrived, we had her come to the hospital to meet her as soon as possible, and then, while I stayed at the hospital one night with the baby, daddy went home with her so she was still with one of us. It was important that she knew that she was still just as important as the baby. I was lucky enough to have my mom stay with me that night, so I wasn't alone either.

Once we came home, my husband gave my daughter lots of extra attention when I couldn't, but I found it very helpful to put the baby down when she was sleeping a couple times a day and do something special with my older daughter like a craft or play with a special toy. That one on one time really helped limit her jealousy.
To check out some of the crafts we've done, click the picture below.

It's still a working progress, and I know that adjusting will be a continual thing, but so far, it's been fairly smooth, and we are so thankful for both of our girls. :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Butterfly Footprint Flowerpots

Hey ya'll! It's Marcy from Saddle Up For 2nd Grade! Today I wanted to share these really fun flowerpots I made with my baby girl. They are super cute and make great gifts. We did these for our grandma's for Mother's Day!
Saddle Up for 2nd Grade

These butterfly footprint flowerpots are so fun to make with your little one. They make great gifts for Mother's Day or to give to a loved one for their birthday. You can read all about how to make them on our blog!

Here is what you need:
* 1 small clay flowerpot (I got these from Wal-Mart)
* Acrylic paint (4 different colors)
* Paint brushes
*Clear coat

These butterfly footprint flowerpots are so fun to make with your little one. They make great gifts for Mother's Day or to give to a loved one for their birthday. You can read all about how to make them on our blog!

1. I chose to do our butterflies with turquoise, pink, and purple paint. You can use any colors that you'd like to use. I painted her foot in three different colors. Make sure you get a good, solid coat on the bottoms of their feet. I recommend doing this outside. I laid down some towels in the grass because I knew we would make a mess.

These butterfly footprint flowerpots are so fun to make with your little one. They make great gifts for Mother's Day or to give to a loved one for their birthday. You can read all about how to make them on our blog!

2. Place their foot onto the flowerpot in your desired area. Gently mash their foot onto the pot so that a good coat transfers onto the pot. I had to do a few touch ups with my brush.

3. Once the footprints dry, use your desired color to paint the body of the butterfly in between the feet. I chose to use white. Then add the butterfly face with a permanent marker.

These butterfly footprint flowerpots are so fun to make with your little one. They make great gifts for Mother's Day or to give to a loved one for their birthday. You can read all about how to make them on our blog!

These butterfly footprint flowerpots are so fun to make with your little one. They make great gifts for Mother's Day or to give to a loved one for their birthday. You can read all about how to make them on our blog!

4. When the paint is completely dry, I added a clear coat to protect the paint from chipping using Hodgepodge Clear Spray Coat.

I think they turned out so cute! You can add flowers and place outside or use it for a fun plant indoors.

These butterfly footprint flowerpots are so fun to make with your little one. They make great gifts for Mother's Day or to give to a loved one for their birthday. You can read all about how to make them on our blog!

My sweet girl had the best time making these. She got it all over her and wanted it eat it all! We were lucky and didn't get any in our mouths.

These butterfly footprint flowerpots are so fun to make with your little one. They make great gifts for Mother's Day or to give to a loved one for their birthday. You can read all about how to make them on our blog!

Would you like to save this idea for later? Pin the image below!

These butterfly footprint flowerpots are so fun to make with your little one. They make great gifts for Mother's Day or to give to a loved one for their birthday. You can read all about how to make them on our blog!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Pink Ombre First Birthday Party

Hey there, it's Tiffany here from KTeacherTiff! My sweet girl just turned a year old (cue the crying!) and I thought I would share some of the details of her birthday party with you.
When I plan birthday parties for my son, I always like to do a dessert table as the focal point (see examples below).
But for Avery's party, we would be outside, and I knew that it was going to be HOT. So instead of a dessert table as the focal point, I decided I would make a drink table.
The table was so simple, but it made a big visual impact. This is just a small folding table covered with 3 yards of burlap I got that morning at Wal-Mart. The tassel garland, jute (tied around the mason jars), mini clothespins, and both wood frames are from Hobby Lobby. The wooden crate is from Michael's. The paper straws and mason jar drink dispenser are from Amazon (affiliate links for your convenience). The cheapest I could find the mason jars was my local Ace Hardware store!
For the wooden frame (a mere 15.00 at Hobby Lobby), I just turned it around and stuck nails in the back. I eyeballed the spacing. Then, I tied jute to the nails and attached Avery's monthly photos using mini clothespins. You don't have to have monthly photos to take advantage of this cute idea. Using your favorite photos of your little one would work just as well!
Once the focal point of the party was taken care of, I started to think about the next "big deal" part of a first birthday--the cake smash. At home, my little girl uses her brother's blue hand-me-down high chair, which is big and bulky. So I took to yard sales and Facebook groups and I found this 70-year-old high chair for a great price! Two coats of chalk paint and it was picture-perfect. The scrappy banner and "one" banner are from Sweet Orange Fox on Etsy!
And here is how Miss Avery felt about her smash cake:
The last item I knew that I would need to really make the party photos pop was helium balloons. I love the big pop of color that balloons provide for not much money at all! I highly recommend you get a bunch, even if you think you don't need them. You will be glad you did!
Once the decor was all figured out, it was time to pick out the birthday outfit (OK let's be real, I totally started with the outfit and everything else stemmed from there.) The tutu and onesie are from Hello Buttercup on Etsy, and the cake smash outfit is from PrettyBabyBowtique, also on Etsy.
Finally, I found these plastic Krazy Straw mason jars the day of her party at the Dollar Tree! How perfect are these? I didn't have to worry about the kids trying to drink out of glass mason jars because they had their own, and they doubled as a party favor!
I got my inspiration all over Pinterest. Check out this board if you'd like to see all of my birthday pins in one place. I hope you got some party planning inspiration!