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A Heart For Home: July 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Finished Friday: Cooling Necklace to Beat the Summer Heat


I'm trying to hold myself accountable to finish some of the projects on my to do list by posting each Friday about a project I've completed. For the most part these projects aren't part of my daily or weekly household chores, although some weeks finishing those items is a challenge all in its own.
This is another great idea I found on Pinterest, a Do-It-Yourself Cooling Necklace. Here's a picture of the original.
photo credit
This easy cooling necklace is made out of reusable ice cubes, nylons, and ribbon.  

I found the reusable ice cubes at The Dollar Tree and bought 2 packs. = $2

Then I bought 2 sets of white knee highs at Walmart (the kind that come in the gum ball machine packaging). = $0.66

Finally, I purchased a pair of black nylons at Walmart. = $0.97

(I already had plenty of ribbon at home.)

These supplies were enough to make an entire set of matching cooling necklaces for our family. And yes, my husband will wear this necklace out of the house! (He's very secure in his manhood.)

To use the necklaces we simply store them in the freezer and pull them out when we are going outside. They stay cold for a good 45 minutes, which is normally the amount of time I can handle being out in the heat anyway. 

(Please, be careful that your little ones don't chew on or squeeze the ice cubes. I'm not really sure what's in them so just be on the safe side.)

So for less than $4 our family can now help beat the summer heat just a little bit more.
What things have you crossed off of your list recently?
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Great Pinterest Challenge...It's Coming


Motivation to get it off your board and get it done!

Stay Tuned...




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Moving Changes

Just stopping in for a quick moving update. 

In the past two days our moving plans have changed somewhat dramatically. We are still moving, but instead of moving 5 miles down the road at the end of next week we are moving back to Maryland (our home state) tomorrow. 

Yes, I just said tomorrow!

Please, keep our family in your prayers as we strive to finish packing with calm spirits. Also, please pray that our newest addition will hold off joining us officially for a little while longer, especially since I'll be driving with the other three kiddos in the van by myself.

Thank you so much!


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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Eliya's First Ponytail

When did she get so big?
It seems like just yesterday we were welcoming her to our family.
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Monday, July 25, 2011

Yard Sale Finds

This past Saturday, Tim was off and he decided to surprise me with a family yard sale outing! 

I love yard sales, but they are definitely not on Tim's most favorite things list, so this was most certainly an act of love on his part.

While we didn't score any exceptional deals we did find a few things and simply enjoyed being together.


We found this great bin of animal figures. They were marks $0.10-$1 each, so Tim offered $10 for the whole bin and the seller said yes! (The bin itself would be around $6 at the store.) The kids have loved playing with them several times already. 

We also snagged this hardback Animal Encyclopedia for $0.50 (marked $1.50). I'm thinking of adding it to our letter focus workbox each week since it has at least one animal for each letter of the alphabet.


Not pictured:

We found a few things for Tim, 3 pairs of shorts and 1 pair of swimming trunks for $5 (Tim talked them down from $8).

I found a pair of shorts for myself that should fit in that transitional phase after the baby is born. They were marks $2, but we paid $1.

Tim also found a small tent and two brand new sleeping bags. The man wanted $30, but somehow Tim got him down to $10. I think I should take Tim every time I yard sale!

Did you find any good deals this week?
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Don't Expect Too Little: A Lesson from Hiking with Little Ones


I think, as parents, we often underestimate what our young children are capable of. The photo above was taken about 3/4 of the way through a moderate 3 mile hike where Emahry and Jonathan walked the entire time. 

To be honest, I thought we'd end up having to carry Jonathan half way through, but on he trudged, even running much of the way! Overall, I think he did much better than his very pregnant mama.

Not only was this experience lots of fun for the whole family, but it showed me once again that sometimes I set expectations for my children that are way too low. Yes, they are all under five, but even very young children can do quite a bit all by themselves. 

Now, I'm looking for other ways to encourage them to develop a healthy sense of independence and accomplishment. 
What are some ways you can raise your expectation for your own children?
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Eliya's Birth Story Part 1: A Relaxed Labor at Home

Since we're expecting number four within the next month or so, I figured it was high time to type up and post Eliya's birth story.

Out of my three labors so far I would say that Eliya's was the most textbook. It is the labor I'd like to repeat. Although Jonathan's birth was by far the easiest, the uncertainty of making it to the birthing center on time added an uncontrolled variable that I'd rather not deal with again.

(Go here if you'd like to read about my (long, hospital transfer, Pitocin, but no pain meds) labor and delivery of our oldest, Emahry. If you like a feel good (short, "easy," barely made it into the triage room) labor and delivery be sure to check out Jonathan's dramatic birth.) 

Now back to Eliya's birth.

When I went to bed on February 8th, 2010, I had no idea that I would have our precious baby girl the next morning. (However, looking back Tim says he thought I might go into labor because I frequented the bathroom much more than normal that evening.)

I woke up around midnight with Jonathan, took him potty, placed a dry diaper on him and settled him back into his bed. Then I returned to bed, hoping to fall back to sleep quickly. But falling back to sleep at all was not in God's plan as I experience the first of some minor contractions.

After about a half hour of lying in bed unable to sleep, I decided I'd make myself useful and get a few things done.

I rolled out of bed and began to putter around the kitchen, making sure things were tidy and clean. At about 1:30 AM I decided that these still mild contractions weren't going away and that I should probably make sure I had everything ready in order to go to the birthing center.

Thankfully, since we had already experienced an early birth with Jonathan, all of our labor and delivery supplies were already packed and loaded into Tim's truck so that we would be able to leave quickly and my sister would have the van (with car seats) for the kids.

I packed up a few last odds and ends then proceeded to climb onto the bathroom counter so I could see well enough to pluck my eyebrows. (What can I say, they were in desperate need and I was running out of quiet things I could do.)

At around 3:30 AM, Tim woke up and discovered me in the bathroom. When I told him I was in labor he was very excited. I told him he should go back to bed, even though I knew he'd never be able to fall back to sleep now. He decided to stay up and try to find something to do. I decided to take a quick shower, boy did the hot water feel good on my belly!

At 4 o'clock I told Tim that we should probably go ahead and call my sister. She woke up a little groggy (who wouldn't), but said she could be ready in just a few minutes.

At this point my contractions were getting substantially stronger and were about 7 minutes apart so I also called the birthing center and spoke with the midwife on call.

Because of my previous super quick labor and the fact that our babies tend to be small, the midwife suggested that I come to the birthing center when my contractions were between 5 and 6 minutes apart.

Continue with Part 2.


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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Good Reads ~ July 23rd

May all your wanderings be blessed!

photo credit: Filth Wizardy
:: I really need to get one of these Shower Curtain Play Mats outlined before we move. I think it would be the perfect thing to help keep the kids occupied and happy while we unpack or for when our newest addition arrives.

:: I really appreciated Natalie's insight on Scripture Memory with Toddlers @Passionate Homemaking. She has many great tips including explaining why we memorize scripture in the first place.

photo credit: Heavenly Homemakers
:: I can't wait to try Laura's recipe for Homemade Pudding Pops! I think I may have to take a packing break and spend some time in the kitchen making these little guys. Then of course, the recipe makes 15 so I'll have to find someone to take most of them out of my house before I eat them all!

:: I also loved reading Kristin's post on their Family Devotions. While our family does choose to worship with others in a church building, Sunday morning setting we also love the idea of family devotions and hope to incorporate them more regularly over the next few months.

Linked to Saturday Stumbles @Simply Staci.
Have you come across any "good reads" this week? We'd love for you to link to them in the comments section.
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Friday, July 22, 2011

Finished Friday: Sponge Bombs


I'm trying to hold myself accountable to finish some of the projects on my to do list by posting each Friday about a project I've completed. For the most part these projects aren't part of my daily or weekly household chores, although some weeks finishing those items is a challenge all in its own.

I discovered these Sponge Bombs on Pinterest a few weeks ago and quickly added them to my Outdoor Fun Board and my mental list of things to do.

sponge_water_bombs_HoH_13
Photo credit: Positively Splendid
Last week I finally finished up a batch of our own Sponge Bombs. 

I didn't have any fishing line (like the tutorial calls for) and the dental floss that another tutorial says to use broke after one playing session so I ended up using elastic hair ties to wrap around each sponge bomb and they are holding up wonderfully. 






Our kids love these sponge bombs and ask for them almost every day. They are a great alternative to water balloons!

Emahry's and Jonathan's favorite activity is to soak the sponge bombs with water, bring them to me while I sit in a lawn chair and then run as fast as they can while I try to pelt them with the sponge bombs. Someday it won't be this easy to entertain them so I'm enjoying it while I can!

Linking up to Works for Me Wednesday.
What things have you crossed off of your list recently?
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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sew Your Own Pocket Chart Calendar from a $1 Target Pocket Chart

Update: I made this calendar from a pocket chart I purchased in the Target dollar section at the end of the summer in 2011. I have not been to Target yet this year to see if they are selling these exact pocket charts, but others have said they have purchased them in 2012. We still use our pocket chart calendar and love it!

Last week we snagged some great deals in the Target dollar section. Along with some other fun additions to our homeschool stash we bought 4 small pocket charts for $1 each.

I had thoughts of putting two charts together to make a pocket chart calendar, but when I opened up the packages I realized that a smaller version pocket chart calendar would be completely possible using only one pocket chart. Even better!

I discovered that the 8 rows on these pocket charts would be ideal for a calendar since the top row can hold the name of the month, the second row the days of the week and the remaining 6 rows the dates. 


This way you never have to share a spot for an overlap week like this example:

I think that would be a little confusing for younger kids.

While I could have simply typed up and printed the calendar cards I decided that I'd rather have individual pockets for each of the cards to keep the calendar more organized.

I first measured and figured out how wide each day could be to fit seven days across the width of the pocket chart. Then I created a set of calendar cards according to these measurements. You can find the entire set which includes months, days and dates in our Free Printables section.

Once I printed and laminated the calendar cards I decided to use them as guides for where I should sew the columns onto the pocket chart.

I started with the bottom row and placed 7 cards side by side in the vinyl pocket. Then I went back and double checked to make sure they were spaced evenly. Once I was satisfied I pulled out my trusty Sharpie (fine tip works best for this) and made two small marks between the cards, one at the top of the vinyl pocket and one at the bottom. You can see my marks in the picture below.

Update: Erin used a dry erase marker and was able to wipe it right off when she was finished--great idea!


Next I simply repeated this process across the entire row and the next 6 rows (make sure to leave the very top row alone as this will be the row for the name of the month).

Once I had all my marks made I stuck a piece of masking tape a tiny distance to the right of the first column marks running from the top of the second row to the end of the last row. This masking tape is going to act as a guide while sewing the column pockets on the pocket chart.


To sew the column, I simply used a straight stitch set at the longest stitch length. For me that's a 5. I started at the bottom of the pocket chart (so I wasn't going against the vinyl pockets) and made sure to start and back stitch on the nylon (blue) part of the chart rather than the vinyl pocket.

My marks weren't all perfect so I simply adjusted while I was stitching through the nylon so that once I got to the next strip of vinyl I was on the Sharpie marks I had made earlier.


At the end of the column I sewed another half inch or so and back stitched several stitches. Here's what the top of the columns should look like.


Once I had completed the first column I removed the masking tape from the bottom up (so you're going with the pockets, not against them). Then I repeated the process (using the same masking tape) with the rest of the columns.


After the last column I cut all the loose threads from the beginning and ending of each column and slid in my calendar cards.



Pretty good for a $1 pocket chart and about 15 minutes of sewing! It definitely works for me!


In case you'd like to make your own calendar cards: I made mine in Microsoft Publisher and made a table that was 5 columns by 4 rows (in the landscape orientation). Each column is 1.9 inches wide (9.5 inches total) and each row is 2 inches high (8 inches total). You'll need two pages of these tables to make one set of calendar cards including days of the week.

Carisa @ 1+1+1=1 has started making mini versions of her Calendar Creations to fit these calendars. Check out all of her free sets here. (Be sure to print the mini versions.)
If you have any questions about making your own I'm happy to help. Also, let me know if you make one of these pocket chart calendars. I'd love to have your feedback.

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Blueberry Picking

Tim was off a couple of Mondays ago and we took the opportunity to make a family outing to a local organic blueberry farm. I hadn't been blueberry picking since I was pregnant with Emahry and it was a first time experience for the rest of the family. 

Emahry and Jonathan each had their own bucket to fill and did fairly well at getting most of the blueberries into their buckets instead of their mouths. Eliya on the other hand, ate every single blueberry she touched.





Have you done any berry picking this summer? Any tips for keeping the kids from sampling every berry?
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Shadow Family Portrait

What you do when your family gets too large to take a self portrait with your arm outstretched as far as it can.

For more Wordless Wednesday Participants visit click Mom to 2 Posh Lil' Divas, Mama to 4 Blessings, Goober Grape & Monkey Man, Goodbye Disposable, Hello Cloth, and 5 Minutes for Mom.

For more Works for Me Wednesday tips visit We are That Family.
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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Target Dollar Deals: Pocket Charts, Puzzles and More!

Yesterday we made a family trip to Target to try and hunt down some great Dollar Section deals. 

Here's what we found:


4 Pocket Charts @ $1 each. 

These are labeled Pocket Chart Schedulers, but of course they can be used lots of different ways. They are each 21 inches long and 14 1/2 inches wide. They are 8 pockets in each. 

We're planning on using one for our calendar this year. Of course it won't be as large as the pocket charts made specifically for that purpose, but our kids also aren't trying to see the calendar from twenty feet away! (We'll be sure to share once we get the calendar pieces printed out and ready to go.)

1 Number Puzzle Set @ $1. 

This has the numbers one through ten. One set has numbers and corresponding pictures. The other set has numbers and corresponding dots. Each small puzzle is self correcting, meaning that the pieces won't fit together unless they are paired up correctly. The bag the set comes in is a resealable Ziploc style which I love!

2 Packs of Jumbo Animal Cards @ $1 each. 

Each set has 20 double sided cards (so 40 animals each). One set is Animal Actions. Each card has a photograph of an animal along with the animal's name and what action they do. These should be fun to get some wiggles out while also working on expanding the kids' vocabulary. The other set is Animal Sounds. Instead of the animal's action each card says the sound the animal makes. Both of these sets also come in resealable Ziploc style bags.

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Good Reads ~ July 15th

May all your wanderings be blessed!

:: Check out this awesome idea of a Crate Seat by Megan @The Boutons. We "bought" a few of these crates last fall when Office Max had them as a free after rebate item. I use one for actual files, but I might need to make the other two into some additional storage/seating for the kiddos. They also link together on the sides so a whole little crate seat bench might be in order if I can get any more for free this back-to-school season.

:: If you have a yard with a strong tree, please make one of these adorable chair swings. I doubt they'd appreciate it at the townhouse we're moving to, but I'm definitely keeping this on my Garden & Yard Ideas Pinterest Board.

:: These Tube Cubbies @FamilyFun are a great way to display and store toy cars!

:: I'm so blessed to know the joy of my husband's love. This post by Ann @A Holy Experience sums it up beautifully..."And now I wonder if there never is one singular moment enflamed with the most love, but it’s when you live the daily faithfulness of making whole decades of minutes tell the truth about the glorious gospel."

::
I also was greatly encouraged by Kristin's post on Homeschooling with a Baby...and Maybe a Toddler, too. When school begins for us in late August or early September Emahry will be 4, Jonathan almost 3, Eliya 18 months and the new baby will be just a few weeks old. I'll definitely be needing lots of grace!


"The cause of most of man's unhappiness is sacrificing what he wants most for what he wants now." 
~ Gordan B. Hinckley

Linked to Saturday Stumbles @ Simply Staci.


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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Eliya's Favorite Song

video
Please, excuse the location :)
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Good Reads ~ July 9th

May all your wanderings be blessed!

:: I love Jessica's insight in her guest post at Simple Mom on How to be a Professional Mom

:: We tried this Easy Homemade Ice Cream without an Ice Cream Maker this past week and LOVED it! Tim and I just finished the last of the Cinnamon Bun Ice cream last night (and we've already tasted some Blueberry Pie Ice cream this morning).

:: I also found a natural recipe for Sweetened Condensed Milk that we'll use next time to make the homemade ice cream a little healthier. (See what else has been pinned to my Recipes to Try Pinterest Board.)

:: I also enjoyed Jon Acuff's guest post on Money Saving Mom. While he specifically addressed Breaking Writer's Block I found that his ideas could be applied to many different situations. My favorite quote: “Later, I’ll be awesome. Today, I’m just going to be productive.”


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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Real Life

Today Tim didn't have to leave for work until 10:30AM. 

I'd love to say we spent some great quality family time together...reading books...playing games with the kids...going for a walk. 

But instead Tim made breakfast, played with the kids and read stories while I folded and put away the three loads of laundry that had been piled in our bedroom all weekend. Then I washed, dried, folded and put away four more loads! 

Wow, was I behind on laundry!

I'm now happy to say that the hamper is empty and our closets and dressers are full...for now.

Note to self: The kids have way too many clothes!


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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Good Reads ~ July 2nd

May all your wanderings be blessed!


:: 100 Ways for You Family to Make a Difference...isn't this the (sometimes secret) desire of all of us?

:: For those who are feeling the same financial strain as our family...Fitting Hope Into Your Budget @ Money Saving Mom

:: I can't wait to make this Lemon Scented Pull-Apart Coffee Cake Loaf from the kitchn

"All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen..."  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Shared at Saturday Stumbles


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