Grass Heads

Last year, when I was teaching, and BroBro was in Preschool he made an ‘egg head’.  I must admit, I thought it was one of the cutest crafts I had seen.

So when a group of us homeschool moms got together for our monthly craft and playdate last month with the theme of spring in mind, I had a dilemma.  When I think of spring, I think of  flowers and petals but those crafts just weren’t going to do it with this group.  This group is largely made up of boys ranging in age from 4-7 with a tag-along 2-year old girl on one end and an 8-year old girl on the other.  No, the pretty stuff just wasn’t going to work so I had to find something cute enough for the girls but cool enough for the boys.  What better idea than the grasshead?

I wanted the project to be hands on and the grasshead was a great way to do that but a few things needed to be changed.  Our quick, to-the-point active boys probably didn’t have the carefulness needed to handle the delicate egg.  And while they would be able to draw the faces without any difficulty, I did want them to spend more than 2 seconds on their activity.

So I did what I always do when I need an idea and  searched the internet.   I loved how Red Ted Art’s Blog used the pantyhose and created theirs with big goggly eyes and a pinched out nose.  But this time around, I figured that just might take too much patience for our group of boys.  I also loved how SALSA PIE used a pot and drew on a face.  This seemed simple enough.  I just might try that one at home but it would be a bit pricey to buy pots for all the kids in the group.

I then came across the idea of using a cup.

I also liked what I saw at The Teacher Wife.  She used clear cups and printable face pieces.

This seemed to be the easiest way to accomplish a fun and successful grass head.  I decided to use the clear cups which turned out to be a fantastic idea.  BroBro found it fascinating to watch the sprouts of grass as they took root and began to make their way to the top of the cup.  I also choose to use foam with sticky backing to make the faces.  This made it easier for those small boy hands to cut out the faces they wanted and easily stick them to the cup.  If they messed up, they simply drew and cut another face part and placed it on the cup.  When the project was completed the kids were so excited to water their heads and couldn’t wait to see the hair begin to grow.  It only took about a 10 days for our heads to spout a full head of hair.

A complete description of how we completed the project is listed below.

What do you think?  As cute as the egg?   I think so!  I just think BroBro’s is in need of a serious haircut!

Cup Grass Heads

Materials:

*  clear plastic cup  – we used 9 oz but 5 oz would work great too.

*  potting soil

*  grass sead

*  craft foam with sticky back

Steps:

1.  Cut out the pieces for your face and stick them on the cup.

2.  Fill cup 3/4 full of dirt

3.  Layer with a generous amount of grass seed

4.  Top with soil

5.  Water and watch your grasshead grow.

Notes:  There is no drainage when the cups are set up this way so be careful about watering your head too much.

a gift given to those we LOVE


My one beautiful thing (week 3) this week cannot be just one picture.  Instead, it is a collection of pictures combined to spell a very special Mother’s Day word – LOVE.

In this house, we do take LOTS of pictures.  However, we do not often get those pictures printed.  Us not getting those pictures printed means that grandparents don’t get those printed pictures.  So, as to be expected, grandparents LOVE to get updated pictures of the kids.

So what better gift to give on Mother’s Day than a gift created from….you got it….PICTURES.   This Mother’s Day, our mothers, (and one Granddaddy for his birthday) got a picture of L-O-V-E.  I took  a picture of each of the kids holding a separate letter from the word “LOVE” and then framed them in a 4-picutre frame.

As I look at the group of pictures together, I must say that I LOVE it.

I LOVE how Michaels had the 4-picture frame even though I did not first check to see if the frame existed before embarking on this project.  Thank you Michaels!

I LOVE how simple the gift was to put together (mainly because of the above).

I LOVE how I took all of the pictures in manual mood (a setting that I finally hardly ever move away from).

LOVE the way it turned out.

But more than that,

I LOVE that our mothers live close enough that we were able to get together with them on Mother’s Day, spend time with them and give them their gifts.

I LOVE the expressions on their faces when they saw the gift they were given.  What grandparent isn’t a sucker for pictures of the grandkids?

I LOVE that we were able to bring them joy on a day that signifies the LOVE we have for them.

And Most of all, I LOVE that God has given my husband and I the gift of life under the families we so dearly LOVE and continued his gifts through the children we LOVE.  We have been richly blessed.

One Beautiful Thing

I started saying “YES”!

“Mom, can I have a piece of candy?”

“Do I get chocolate milk for dinner tonight?”

“When can I watch a cartoon?”

“Is tonight a video game night?”

These are the questions that can drive a mamma up a crayon colored wall.  Candy, chocolate milk, T.V. and video games are not big time regulars in our house but they are big time conversations.  Conversations because one particular 4-year old wants them all the time and conversations because that same particular four year goes through phases of losing them all the time.

If I said yes, every time I was asked I would have some serious TV watching, video game playing, sugar hyped kids.  Add to that the fact that these “privileges” often serve as currency for some much needed change in behavior and you get…well.. a constant NO.

So, we have a new behavior system in our house.

We are now using tokens.  Instead of taking things away for BroBro’s bad choice in behavior, I am now giving them for his good choice in behavior.  Each time I see him exhibiting the types of behaviors I expect, he will earn a token.

The tokens are then used to “buy” those special privileges that he is so often asking for.  If he wants a particular privilege, he first counts his tokens.  If he has enough in his jar then he can ask and I am able to say ‘YES’.  If he does not, then he does not ask.  He must continue to show good behaviors and earn the tokens necessary for the wanted privilege.

At first I wondered if this was the best plan for our family.  I don’t necessarily believe my kids should be getting rewards for behavior that I expect them to exhibit but with my 4-year old I had hit a point of constant battle.  Our days were filled with back-to-back consequences because there were so many behaviors that needed to be dealt with at the same time and I was beginning to feel like our home had turned into a war zone.

We now have been using our new token system for about two weeks and so far it has been a wonderful plan for our family.  By rewarding the seen good behaviors I am not only giving him something to work towards but I am also exemplifying to him the exact behaviors I want him to show.  In addition, I am not being asked the same questions over and over.  BroBro’s repeated good behavior is leading to his wanted privileges and instead of constantly saying NO, I am getting to say YES.  It’s a win-win all around.

Now, off to teach the concept of saving for the bigger ticket items.  We’ve got a Daddy on the sidelines who is itching for the tokens to be saved and redeemed for an hour of video games.

Beautiful Strawberries

(One Beautiful Thing, Week 2)

We live on almost 3 acres of land.

There are some days when my husband, who grew up in Philadelphia, is overwhelmed by the amount of mowing, weeding, planting, mulching, and overall maintaining that is involved.  And even though, I know its nowhere close to the hundred plus acres I grew up with, some days, so am I.

Today is NOT one of those days.

We have a strawberry patch planted just off of our back deck.  It is what has grown from 3 small strawberry plants planted about 4 years ago.  I love strawberry plants.  With all of the maintenance that other gardening requires, these come back year after year, and require nothing but our quick hands to pluck their bounty.

The strawberries have now ripened!

So, today’s beautiful thing is the bowl of strawberries we just picked from this patch.  They have just started coming in and the kids LOVE going out to find the prettiest ones.  I enjoy so much, the smiles that cover their faces as they search for the reddest and ripest strawberry and quickly delight in its sweet flavor.  On most occasions I do good to get half of what is actually on the vines into the house.  Most are picked with little hands and quickly popped into eager mouths before I even know they exist.  What a joy to have 3 acres of land!

Thank you dear God, for this beautiful bowl of strawberries and the joy that it brings to the little hands that pick them.  

One Beautiful Thing

From Shoes to School Supplies

I cleaned up and cleaned out my closet last week.  I did realize halfway into the project, however, that it might be a harder task than anticipated.  Not only was I was attempting to do this in the middle of a season change but, at just 8 weeks postpartum, I was also doing this in the middle of a body change.

Regardless, my closet was in desperate need of a cleaning and I was in an even more desperate need to get rid of a bunch of stuff.

In my cleaning frenzy I decided that the shoe rack I have had forever needed to go.  It took up a lot of space in the closet, was always overloaded, and a true pain whenever the kids were around.  If one of the top shoes got so much as touched it would fall, pulling all of the other shoes down with it.  To GoodWill it was headed.

Now, before you start asking about the lack of shoes in the picture…obviously, this is NOT what it usually looks like. Not knowing I was going to KEEP the falling apart shoe rack, I took no “before” pictures of the mess that it has become.  This is a picture with just a few shoes to show how it was used…well, kinda.

Just before it hit the door to the garage and made it’s way into my car, I had an idea.  I also had another closet that needed some cleaning up (although I wasn’t sure there would be as much cleaning out).  That was the SCHOOL CLOSET.

Now, if any of you read my “I’ve been Nominated” post you will remember that I get an ultimate high on being organized.  As you can imagine, this was the ultimate annoyance.

So without taking the time to even measure.  I yanked every bit of clutter out of that closet and got to work.  I slid the old shoe rack in and quickly noticed that there was not a millimeter left on each side to spare.  IT WAS MEANT TO BE.  This old shoe rack was going to become a different type of closet organizer.

From the basement, I pulled out the boxes I had emptied and brought home from my classroom when I quit teaching.  I sorted all of the supplies and labeled each box.

Here is the finished product.  Ah, I feel so much better!  Cleaning out 2 closets is such good therapy.

I must say this old shoe rack does a much better job working as a school supply rack than it ever did as a shoe rack.

And for those of us who LOVE before and after pictures…

BEFORE the shoe rack

AFTER the shoe rack


My Beautiful Thing

I wrote earlier this week about how sleep deprived I felt in these earliest stages of Littlest Man’s life and confessed the full blown temper tantrum that I threw on a day I was unable to take a much needed nap.

I mentioned at the end of that post, that although some of these days have been rough, I do not wish them to pass too quickly.  I cherish these moments.  The sweet and the tender.  With every bit of my being I hold them close to my heart knowing that one day I will look back and wonder just where did those moments go.

One of my ‘bestest’ friends, at Surprised by Life is hosting a weekly photography challenge called “One Beautiful Thing”.  The goal is to capture one picture a week to remind us of the beauty God created around us.

I love photography.  I love how it captures those moments in our lives that are either changed or completely gone in a second.  I love how it focuses on the detail of life and carries it forward to the generations that come.  I love how it sparks memories and allows for interpretation.  I wish I were better at it!

So, as a gift to myself, I am participating.  I challenge myself, however, to not become disappointed when the subjects (i.e. my children) do not want to participate or when the captured photo does not match my own vision.  Whether it be the smiling (or crying) faces of my kids or the the sunset off of my front porch I want to use my camera to capture the beautiful life that God has so wonderfully gifted to me.

I love the picture above.  I took it when the other two were napping and I had a few, quiet, undisturbed minutes to enjoy this sweet, newest addition to our family.  These moments are few and far between as noted by the chaos that often erupts when I settle down to nurse.  I am so glad I was able to capture the  expression on his face, and the peacefulness he had as he began to drift off to sleep himself.

Is it me, or is there a small ‘heart’ shape created by his hands? That, right along with his smile, seems to be saying to me,”Mommy, I know what I’m doing. You just enjoy!”

And because there was no way I could upload just one, I also included this beautifully sweet picture as well.

Don’t forget to join me each Thursday as I link up to Surprised by Life to show off my own beautiful pictures.

One Beautiful Thing

Face Off!

When we finished our math curriculum this year I wondered whether or not to order and begin the next level.   I decided against that.  With the new baby in the house and the routine gone haywire, we were lucky to do anything with school.  In addition, BroBro had started this Kindergarten curriculum a year early, and although he has breezed right through it, I just did not want him to hit a point where he developmentally found it too challenging.  So staying true to my teaching roots, I did what all of us do when we can’t move on…review, review, review.

BroBro has been using RightStart math this year.  With this curriculum we have learned how to use the abacus to understand basic number sense and apply the concepts of addition.  In our review I thought it might be good to have him start memorizing addition facts.  I created flashcards with specific facts.  First we worked with sums of 10.  Then we practiced doubles.  We are currently working on 10 plus a number.

I knew that calling out numerous math facts and completing worksheets was going to be tortuous for both BroBro and myself so I had to come up with some practice games.  One game I located in my files of old teaching materials was a game called Face Off.  This game is easy to set up and easy to play.  It only requires a printed board, a dice, and place markers (beans, pieces of paper, counters, etc).  The problem with this board though was that the numbers did not work for the facts BroBro was learning.   On this day I just taped a piece of paper on top and changed the numbers to the ones we needed.  This gave me an idea.  I needed to create my own game board that included interchangeable mats so that we could play no matter which math facts we were practicing.  I created a mat for both the doubles facts and 10 plus a number facts.  I will create more as we continue with various other facts.

I laminated the board and mats.  I also added velcro to the front of the board and the back of the mats so that they would stay in place when they were used.

The game starts by having each player cover all of their numbers (we use beans).  Each player takes turn rolling the 10-sided dice.  For doubles we simply doubled the number rolled.  For 10 plus a number we added 10 to the rolled number. As each player rolls a number and calls out the answer to the fact they remove the place marker on the corresponding number.  If they have already removed the marker on that number then their turn is over and the opposing player rolls.  The winner is the first player to remove all of their place markers.  

When we are finished all of the materials are collected in a ziplock bag.  This makes it easy to grab when we are at the house but also when we need something to take with us to a doctor’s appointment or when we go out to eat.

And because I have a copycat toddler sitting nearby I also created 2 different number matching boards.  Pretty girl can’t count just yet but it will be a great way for her to practice when we start that skill.  For now she just places the counters on the numbers.

So if you too have a young one who likes playing games to review math skills then play a game of Face Off!