Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nasty old sweater turned fabulous

My sister Kathy gave me china for my birthday.

I'm giving her a chunk cut out of a sweater I found in the free box at the church rummage sale. I upcycled this old wool sweater into something better ... this handmade flower brooch.

It was argyle, so feeling whimsical I decided to retain the diamonds and use them as leaves. I shaped them with a little nip and tuck.

The flower was once a portion of sleeve.
  1. To make, cut a piece of the purple about 2 inches by 8 inches, with the grain running the short way.
  2. Fold that in half the long way, wrong sides together, then baste along the raw edges by hand with a running stitch.
  3. Simply roll up the long piece, tucking under the raw edges until it becomes an appealing rose shape. Stitch the underside to keep it in place.
  4. Cut out two diamonds for leaves.
  5. Pinch them from the underside, about in the middle, and tack, forming a leaf shape by hand and adding tacks as needed.
  6. Stitch the leaves to the bottom of the rose.
  7. Sew on a safety pin or brooch pin.

No surprise, this sweater has also spent time as a diaper. A large piece from the front became this butt sweater for Dori, and the cuffs formed the leg openings (peeking out under here dress here). You'll have to use your imagination, but the bottom is super cute with the argyle.

Check out the gorgeous felted wool ornaments I made

My sister invited the girls to Aunt Carol's Christmas Craft Camp (read: two days of a quiet house for me to get some work done). Poor Carol broke her foot on the way out her door yesterday to come pick them up. Only she didn't know she broke her foot until tonight when she went to the ER. She thought it was a mere sprain from slipping in the snow.

I can't fix her foot and she insists the girls are fine there, so instead I made her these ornaments while watching Letterman. I never get to watch Letterman anymore.

And tomorrow I'll go pick up the girls.

  1. I started with a gorgeous red boiled wool jacket that met an early demise when somebody put it in the dryer. It was Carol's, so she's getting it back now. She figured I could do something crafty with it after the horrible shrinkage. My first creation was a cute wool diaper cover for Dori last year.

  2. I found a suitable clip art heart shape, and printed it in a few sizes.

  3. I pinned on the pattern and cut out two hearts per ornament.

  4. I used embroidery floss — all 8 strands — to stitch the names of the her family members in a folksy sort of way.

  5. Next I held a personalized heart and a plain heart together, matching the edges (kind of) and stitched around the edge with the same floss. They're supposed to be folksy, so I forced myself to rush and not get it perfectly spaced.

  6. Finally I added a loop of floss to hang the ornaments.

Incidentally, here's how cute Dori's bottom looked in the bum sweater.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How to teach a young child about God.

Another blogger asked how to start teaching a preschooler about God when church isn't a part of their regular life. It can seem intimidating to teach our children about something so big and vast as God. It can be easy to start though. The best part is that we as mothers can learn more about God, too, as we teach our children!

The best and easiest thing is to simply pick up a Bible and start reading. So many nice children’s Bibles are made now.
  • Our littlest girl (age 2.5) likes Baby’s First Bible. This one is not really a Bible, but a very short board book with verses and text about God and Jesus. I think she likes the cut-outs, the pictures of Jesus and that it has a handle so she can carry it around.
  • She also likes Little Girls Activity Bible for Toddlers. It has cute, short stories, mostly about women of the Bible, and easy activities or crafts you can do at home to go with each one.
  • For a children’s version of the major Bible stories for the youngest children, I like My First Read and Learn Bible, a board book with very short stories.
  • We also have at our house The Beginner’s Bible. It’s similar to the one above, but with slightly longer stories and it’s not a board book. Stories are easy words to read and are short so my 6-year-old reads this aloud.
  • For kids of maybe kindergarten age and up, the very best I’ve seen is Egermeier’s Bible Story Book. It truly summarizes the entire Bible instead of picking out stories here and there. It would still be great for younger kids, but probably only for those who like to sit for stories. Stories are written in smaller print as an adult book would be, and are about a page and a half long with one illustration for every few stories.

I grew up active in church, but by reading to my children, I have learned so much about God and the Bible that I never knew before!

We participate in Sunday School, and that helps the girls learn. At this age, it’s all about hearing some of the major Bible stories, which they’ll hear again and again as they grow (Noah’s Ark, Daniel in the lion’s den, etc.) When I teach Sunday School, my goal is simply to instill in the children a sense of hope in Jesus and that they begin to begin to trust in faith.

Vacation Bible School is also fun for kids. They’re usually short (a few hours a day for a week) and welcome all children.

Another idea is to help children learn through music. Kids love to sing and dance, so we put on children’s Bible songs at home or in the car. Lots of choices are available. Some of the songs my girls remember the most are the most basic such as “Jesus Loves Me.”

Learning simple prayers can help kids learn how easy it is to talk to God. You can start with simple, easy-to-remember ones and say them before lunch or at bedtime. My 6-year-old likes, “God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food. Amen.” You can teach children to say their own prayers, and that they don’t have to be fancy. If they want to start to learn how to say their own special prayer, you can teach them to praise God, thank God, and ask something of God. You can start by praying for the big things, such as asking God to heal a sick friend, then start to incorporate it into your everyday life.

I tried couponing.

My mother-in-law invited me to a couponing seminar.

Yeah, that was my thought too.

I went, with a smile smeared across my face.

The cheesecake and hors d'oeuvres made the trip worthwhile.

Then the seminar started, and it was actually good. A hip young woman had all kinds of info about blogs she uses to find deals, printable web coupons, online rebates, and which stores in my area do double coupons on which days (I've always been too lazy to find out).

So I decided to try couponing one time. (Don't you love it when ing is added to a noun to make a fake verb?) Instead of buying three copies of the Detroit News and two of the local paper just for the coupons, I decided that finding coupons online only would be my limit. I also had a handful in my rarely used coupon folder. Most were long expired, but a few manufacturer's coupons had no expiration date.

I spent an hour online, mostly at MoneySavingMom.com, finding deals. At the seminar I appreciate that the speaker narrowed down the list of money-saving sites to the few she likes best, and this was one of them. I tried looking for online coupons once before, but I spent tons of time online with few results and an inbox full of spam. This site does make it easier.

I then spent two hours shuttling the kids among three stores. One was out of what I wanted, so that was a complete bust. I guess the other couponers beat me to it. At Kmart, my best buy was a can of Pledge that was free after an in-store sale, plus Kmart double coupon days. On a regular day with no coupons, my total would have been $13.27. Instead it was $6.00.

At Walmart (which I abhor, but I have few choices in my rural area) I got a number of freebies or nearly free items. Did I really need these things? No.

  • I had a $4 coupon for cat food, so I chose the small, $4.50 bag, making it 50 cents.
  • Trial-size Wet Wipes were 97 cents, less my 75-cent coupons. I'll give these to my brother who keeps them in his truck. Total spent: 22 cents for a little goodwill.
  • I got a little money back for buying two little Johnson & Johnson first aid kids for 97 cents each, less my coupons for $1 off on each. I made 6 cents (but paid 11 cents in tax, so really I paid 5 cents for them). A nickel is worth it for the number of Band-Aids we go through.
  • Another freebie was six bars of Johnson & Johnson toddler soap. Each was 97 cents, and I had two coupons for $3 off three J&J items. Total spent: 17 cents in tax for six bars. We'll use these, but I don't feel great about the overpackaging as compared to what we usually buy. I'll also be storing these for more than a year.
  • Baking soda was also free. It was 46 cents each and I had a coupon for $1 off of two. I actually made 8 cents on this. It will now take me two years to go through it.
  • Wheat Chex was at a good price of $1.66/box. We go through a lot of this anyway. Less my $1 coupon off two, I paid $2.32 for two boxes of cereal. That's less than one box normally.
At Walmart I used a total of $13.30 in coupons. It paid for me to watch the cashier carefully and have an idea in my head what the total should be, because she initially missed one of my $3 coupons.
Was this all worth it? For me, not really. I spent three hours to save about $18, some on odd items I didn't have to have, or at least not right now. Some of the time I would have spent shopping for groceries anyway, but not the hour of online coupon time and not nearly this much time looking for oddities such as trial-size Wet Wipes in the store.
If I were younger and without children to drag from store to store (like the seminar speaker), this may be more worthwhile. If I lived in a more urban area with more store choices so I could flit from retailer to retailer scooping up only the best buys, this might be worthwhile. Staples, CVS, Kroger, Meijer and Rite Aid are apparently among the favorites of couponers and rebaters, but none exist within an hour drive of my home. If I didn't have a completly scuzzy house needing to be cleaned, if my kids were 100% caught up on their homeschool lessons, if I didn't have a pile of free-lance writing work clamoring for my time, if I didn't have volunteer work I promised to get done ... this might be worthwhile.
As a happy medium, I'll probably check one or two money-saving blogs before my regular grocery shopping trip. If I find something good, I'll print it and try to limit my time. I won't go off on wild goose chases or spend an hour looking in the wrong department for that elusive bar of free soap.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dori has rowed three books.

We use a resource book called Before Five in a Row (BFIAR) with Dori. The idea is to read the same classic children's book for five days in a row (specific books recommended in BFIAR), doing a different learning activity with it each time. We don't necessarily read each selection five days straight, but I do love the ideas in BFIAR and the book list is excellent.

Above are the books that Dori has "rowed" so far. To add to the BFIAR fun, I decided that we should have a way to visually remember what we have done. I came up with the idea of a BFIAR wall. We cut a shape out of construction paper that reminds us of something in the book. I went to Amazon.com and printed off a picture of the cover of each book (I also could have scanned them). Dori sticks the book cover onto the construction paper, then I tape it to the wall.
So far we have rowed Corduroy, Blueberries for Sal and Goodnight Moon.

Fun in a bottle for little ones.

Dori had fun finding the hidden treasures in this water bottle turned treasure trove. It's a cute activity that could easily be made at home.
Simply dry out an old water bottle, drop in a dozen or so household items, then fill it the rest of the way with rice. Make a list of the items on a card (ours is covered in clear Con-Tact paper) and attach it to the neck of the bottle with ribbon. Make sure the lid is screwed on tight. It wouldn't be a bad idea to wrap it with electrical tape to be safe.
Either let the child discover items as they wish, or challenge them to find the white button or find the green paperclip.
A friend gave us this bottle. She and several other mothers of homeschooled preschoolers got together and each made up enough of the same activity for every family. That made it quick and easy to do, then they distributed them so each family went home with a bunch of new games and activities to do at home. Most of them were fit into standard gallon-size zipper bags. Her daughter is older now, so she shared some of the activities with us. They have worked really well to keep Dori constructively busy while Addy and I do school.