Monday, September 5, 2011

Busy Bags:::: Geoboards

I have some of the craftiest friends around. My friends Kirby and Chelsea organized a Busy Bag Swap!

A "Busy Bag Swap" is basically where 26 mamas make 26 of one single craft and then swap them with the other mamas making 26 of their craft. Brilliant! So basically you do 26 of the same craft and then walk away with 26 different crafts for your children to enjoy. That is way too many numbers in one sentence.

This past year in homeschooling, having activities for my younger ones to do was (is) a challenge for me. So, I was thrilled when I heard about this opportunity!

We had to do a blog post with directions and information on our projects so I thought I might as well give my untouched blog some lovin' since I did the work to make a blog post and all.

For more of these Busy Bag Projects, head on over to these gal's blogs and look at all of the wonderful projects that were in our Busy Bags.

Kirby's Blog
Chelsea's Blog

Family: I've been happily married to a farmer and the man of my dreams for over 10 years. I've got to give him shout outs on this busy bag project too! Thanks Jason! We have 4 girls: Kaylyn (7), Laney Rae (4), Ruthie (2), and Exie Jo (7 mo). We live on a farm in Brenham, TX.

How do you spend your free time?
I think most of us mommies chuckle at this. In all reality, my free time is devoted to catch up on things I can't do when I DON'T have free time. Is that vague enough for you? Good. I love cooking and experimenting with recipes. I'm a foodie. Dork alert: I love reading natural health books and alternative methods of health treatments. I do love being crafty and creating things although I don't get to do it very often. The beauty of this has been that as my girls have gotten older, I have included them more and more into this aspect of my life. We have fun with that! I also thoroughly enjoy photography.

When you were a child, what was one of your favorite ways to spend your day?
I remember playing school with my sister all of the time.

Fondest memory with your mom as a child?
I loved going garage sailing with my mom on the weekends. She was also so sweet about letting me pick out some 25 cent decoration for my room. I thought I was quite the decorator. It also always seemed as though she had some fun activity for us to go and do.

What does special time with your children look like?
I like to take just one or two of my girls at a time with me on special errands. I have found this to be such a fun way to spend one on one time with them. My girls LOVE to play beauty shop so we are always playing that. We also spend a lot of time in the kitchen together. My older girls are becoming fond of cooking and this makes my heart so happy! As much as I can, I try and include my girls in whatever activity that I am doing around the house.

Favorite outdoor activity with the kids:
We live on a farm, so we are constantly outside doing something together. I guess one of our favorite things to do is collect eggs in the evening with daddy. We pile in the bed of the truck and go driving around the farm at sunset. This is one of my favorite times of day! Another favorite thing we do is school outside on pretty days. We lay out a quilt on the grass and have school there.

A favorite tradition that you want to pass down to your kids:
Whatever the holiday may be, I feel like one area that we are firm in is opening up our home to family and friends and surrounding ourselves with lots of people on holidays. We love having people over and celebrating!

Our family picture.....this is comical. We currently do not have a family picture of ALL of us since our last baby girl was born. So, we had to make do with a snapshot of me on the couch with the girls. My hubby was behind the camera. And I may or may not have just told my 2 year old "Smile, or you'll get a spanking."

Busy Bag Activity:

Geoboards are so versitile and can be used a number of ways in teaching a variety of concepts. My 2 year old all the way up to my 7 year old have enjoyed playing with their Geoboards. 

You can teach basic geometric shapes using these boards.

These are so fun for my girls to sit and do together. I also find this to be a really easy activity that doesn't require very much assistance from me. And its really sweet to see the older kids teaching the younger ones their shapes on their boards.

For the older children, you can create geometric shapes that are a bit more challenging.

 Or you can teach your child some of their numbers and letters too on the boards.

We even like to freestyle and see what shapes or patterns we can come up with on our own! The possibilities really are endless.

Another thing my girls have enjoyed doing with this project is drawing their shapes directly onto the grid cards as well. This would be a simple thing to throw into a diaper bag or backpack on the go.
Here is how I (mostly my husband) made them:

In all reality, if I were making just ONE geoboard, I might consider using THIS method of buying a wooden pre-cut plaque with routered edges. They are about $6 a piece at Hobby Lobby and you could probably get one for half price when they go on sale. However, they weren't on sale when we were purchasing materials for this project, and we were making a lot of them so we had to keep our cost down. I don't know if I'd use the thumbtacks, so we opted for something a little more durable and used nails instead.

Since these were mostly for small children (preschool aged), we chose to do a simple grid of nails of 5 across and 5 down.

Breakdown of Supplies:
1. We used a 2x8x10 board. My husband cut them down into 8"x 8" squares. We used 2 boards total to make 26 of them. 
2. We measured out a grid (this will depend on the size of board that you use) on cardboard as our template for nailing the nails into the boards. ****Honestly, this was the hardest part of the whole process was figuring out the grid and the measurements for it.
3. My husband graciously nailed in 650 nails into the boards in our grid pattern.
4. We spray painted them after the nails were in. I wanted this look over the unfinished look, but you do NOT have to spray paint them. 
5. I designed the grid cards (file below) in photoshop with various shapes. I also included a row of blank grids so that you could free-hand other geometric shapes, numbers, or letters. I used the Bakers Family blog grid template and then designed my own shapes on the cards verses leaving them blank.
 6. Printed them on cardstock at home. I then laminated the 8.5 x 11 sheets of cardstock and cut them into rows. 
7. I put these cards on a metal ring along with a pencil bag and the cloth potholder loops and hair rubberbands so it would all stay together. ** The potholder loops were a little lose for the shapes that weren't so spread apart, so I included some hair rubberbands in there as well.

Price Breakdown:
(2) 2x8x10 boards of wood: $12 ($6 each)
(1) large box of nails: $6
(4) cans of spray paint: $12 ($3 each)
(3) large bags of potholder loops from Hobby Lobby: $12 ($4 each) I put a handful of loops in each bag.
(26) metal rings from Walmart: $8 (pkgs of 8@ $1.88 each)
(26) plastic pencil bags: $6.50 (4 bags for $1 at a local dollar store)
***For printing and laminating, I used my own personal printer and my own laminator. I would estimate about $10 for me to do this. However, it will vary if you print them at a copy center or laminate them somewhere else. 

Total cost for 26 Geoboards: $56.50 OR $2.17 each.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Sisters Playing

A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost. ~Marion C. Garretty

It's not always roses and sunshine around here.

Our life is not perfect. It's perfectly imperfect.

And I'm so thankful for the gift of living this life; my life. And not just living it as merely to survive it. But, living to embrace it for all it's perfections and imperfections.

Praying that in the perfect moments I overflow with thankfulness.

Praying that in the imperfect moments I produce growth.......and humility. By His grace alone.

I captured one of those "thankful" moments the other day. I'm trying to be better about that and seizing the opportunity to just stop. and. pause.

"Take it ALL in and slow down," I have to remind myself.

Looking through the lens of a camera helps me do that. I see things I want to forever remember and never ever forget.

How little chubby knuckles held both Thomas'.

How her face was fixated when caught in a moment of creativity.

How sister smiles and belly button parties looked.

Snapshots that I want to etch in my memory when the years have gone by and I'm trying to remember how it once was in this season.

These pictures will one day make me cry- I'm sure of it. What seems as "everyday" now, will one day be but a memory and a photograph.

There is so much more life to behold and take in. But, I want to pause and remember the moments as we meander through it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Some kids have lemonade stands.....

Our kids sell beets. I feel a Dwight Schrute joke coming on.

It's official. The cousins are back!

And the entrepreneurial spirit is running rampant around here.

If you come out to farm at any point this summer, you might leave with something a tad on the interesting side.

The "Cousin Store" is open for business!

Oh, but you don't eat beets, you say???

Well how about a peach and frog. Delish.

Last summer it was rocks and cow bones for sale in their cute little storefront. This summer they have real live vegetables and critters. I tried to get Kaylyn to make rose flower arrangements to sell to no avail- we have lots of roses.

Kaylyn has requested to sell all sorts of odd things so I sound like a broken record repeating,"Honey, let's stick to selling things that people buy on a farm."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Exie Jo {{{4 mOnThS}}}

Exie Jo is almost 4 months old!

I think I say this with every single girl in this house.

I. Can't. Believe. It.

Exie Jo is the most smiley baby.

Yesterday she was worked up and crying because she could not see me. When I walked in front of her, she immediately turned off the tears and turned on the smiling.

Her favorite thing is to be held and sit in my lap. I'm so thankful to have a baby that likes to snuggle!

And she is sleeping through the night and on a very amazing schedule so this mama has absolutely no complaints.

Here are some more pics of her precious self!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Little Lovey

Happy Birthday Ruthie Claire!

Today you are 2.

You have an exuberance that is unlike any other.

Your face is full of animated expressions.

Your eyes catch everything in sight. You are the most observant child I've witnessed.

Ruthie, there is excitement and laughter in your soul. It's so sweet to watch you get worked up about something.

The words you say are music to my ears. You are talking so well. The other day I was helping you do something and you blurted out in full sentence,"I can do it."

No doubt there are some quirks about you that are to be mentioned. You aren't a fan of water (i.e. bath time). You can't stand stuff on the bottom of your feet. You get this from your momma.

And "I ont some" ("I want some") is your favorite sentence.

You love to sit and read books. And you are already such a little momma helping out with your baby sister, Exie Jo. Your favorite toy is your stroller and baby doll. And the pig is still in your arms 24/7.

Ruthie, I pray sweet blessings over your life and that the Lord would grab a hold of your heart at an early age. I pray that His kindness leads your little heart to repentance and a saving faith. And that the same exuberance you have now as a child, would be used in ways unimaginable as a daughter of the King.

"The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace."
Numbers 6:24-26

Here are some cute photos of your sweet self.

A common face....

This is you in your "pig coma".

Our sweet big 2 year old! Look at those curls!

Daddy and helping his excited princess!

Mama helping you open your presents because you were more interested in the cake.

Your family loves you so much Ruthie Claire!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Eldest Love

Happy Birthday Eldest Love,

You are a delight to this home.

My days are sweet with you alongside me. You are my right-hand gal- my "go to". Always eager to help, serve, love. It is pure joy to watch you with your sisters and how you dote over them so proud and grown-up.

Kaylyn, your brain is filled with creativity. Your need to create always keeps me on my toes- and sometimes wears me out because I can't keep up.

Yesterday, you brought me a man made out of leaves.

Your speech in Classical Conversations a few weeks ago was about what you want to do when you grow up. Your answer: a seamstress who made modest "stylish" clothing.

And what 2 1/2 year old knows what the color "magenta" or "chartreuse" is???? You my dear.

In watching your little life, I'm reminded of the gifts that God lavishly gives us to serve His kingdom and for His glory. I pray it's all used for His glory and His alone.

You wake up eager to create and inspire and want the biggest and best thing that the day holds for us.

Lovey, you are full of surprises! You love to give gifts to people that you specifically create for them. It's one of your favorite things to do.

You are also our little joker around here. You love to laugh and tell jokes. You are learning the art of telling a joke. And another favorite thing of yours is to play practical jokes on people.....good ones, not gross ones.

Our firstborn, you came into this world glowing.....literally. We battled jaundice for 2 weeks and had a billirubin light in our living room the whole duration of that 2 weeks. You were our little glow worm. I always knew you had the gift of "lighting up a room".

Kaylyn, you are a blessing to this family. We love you beyond words.

Father, give Kaylyn the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, and the knowledge of You. That the eyes of her heart be enlightened that she will know the hope to which you have called her, the riches of Your glorious inheritance in the saints and His Incomparably great power for us who believe.
(Ephesians 1:17-19)

And just for fun, here are some things I found on my camera yesterday as I was loading pics. A few weeks ago you had a fashion show and wanted me to photograph you.

And then these were extra special because I discovered that you had a photoshoot of your own with your stuffed dog "Flower". So funny! Again, you are FULL of surprises. AND apparently you know how to set the timer on my camera too. Could you show your momma this trick???

I love you sweet girl!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Laney Rae, you are joy....

Happy Birthday my little joy wonder.

Laney Rae, you are 4 today.

How in this world this has happened is beyond me.

Your most favorite thing in the world is to run free. Outside immersed in nature is where you are most comfortable.

I learn so much from watching your uninhibited little self.

You live each moment to the fullest.

Whenever I read Jim Elliot's quote,"Wherever you are, be all there," I can't help but think of you.

Little one, you hit the ground running and don't look back.

Laughter is your song and the music of your heart. Your belly laughs are contagious.

Your love language is touch. You love to be snuggled.

Laney Rae, you are the ultimate farm girl. And that's what you proclaim to people when you meet them- that, you are indeed a farm girl and a very good one at that. You are so much help to your daddy and a true companion to him as you work alongside him daily.

I pray that the joy that fills your heart will be used for good and that the Lord would be the ultimate joy that fills your heart. Jesus, complete Laney Rae's joy in YOU. I pray that as you walk through this life loudly and wildly, that that your adventurous and tenacious spirit would be used to affect the Kingdom.

I pray this verse over your life precious girl.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

I can't tell you how many times I catch the eyes of your daddy as we sit in wonder at the little girl before us. Teary-eyed and smiling we can't help but utter the words,"We love that girl."

And that about sums it up right there. Laney Rae, we love you. Happy Birthday lovey!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Perfect Boiled Egg

Rumor has it that our pasture-raised eggs are hard to peel.

I would most definitely agree with that statement.

My girls love to eat and snack on boiled eggs and I'm delighted to feed them to them. However, I use to secretly dread making them because I never knew if they were going to "turn out" or not.

Through trial and error I believe I have found a way to boil and peel our eggs perfectly- as opposed to looking like you got the shell off with a hammer and a chisel.

Step 1: Place your eggs in a saucepan and cover with water about an inch about the eggs on HIGH heat. **IMPORTANT: SPRINKLE SEA SALT IN THE WATER.**

Step 2: Once your eggs begin to boil, reduce heat to medium (so that they won't crack) and set a timer for 9 minutes. Continue to let eggs boil on medium heat.

Step 3: Once timer goes off. Remove eggs from heat.

Step 4: Immediately place eggs into cool water and let water run over them.

Step 5: Lightly tap egg on the counter top to loosen the shell up.

Step 6: THIS IS THE TRICK: There is a layer of skin between the shell and the egg white called the "inner membrane". This tends to be a little thicker on pasture-raised eggs. But THIS is the trick. You have to find that skin and get under it and peel that off along with the egg shell. It should come off relatively easy once you find it and should pull the shell off at the same time.

Step 7: Find a sweet little helper. This really is a great way to get kids to help you in the kitchen. Once they get the hang of peeling eggs, its a piece of cake for them. My girls LOVE to peel eggs.

Step 8: The final product is shear beauty.

And tastes mighty delicious too!

AND you can also save the egg shells and use them as a natural plant fertilizer and sprinkle them in your garden.