Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top 11 of 2011

This is a much needed list of my favorite things of the year!

1. Tom's Shoes.
 Not only are these shoes comfortable, but they are flat so I can wear them to work and not worry about squishing little fingers. This is the pair I received for Christmas and I cannot wait to show them to my preschoolers next Tuesday. Tom's also donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair that is purchased and that rocks.
2. Crayola Dry Erase Markers
I love these crayons because they write so smooth and they are easy for little people to wipe off. My preschoolers spend all day on the dry erase boards when I pull these out.

3. Gold Bond Baby Powder
We swear by this stuff in my house. At first sight of redness, we throw a few sprinkles on D and he is good to go.
4. Pinterest
Although other craft bloggers hate this site. I love searching for inspiration and ideas on making my life just a little more simple.

5.Coffeemate Peppermint Mocha Creamer
As with other mommies, I wake up hours before my family to ensure they are ready for the rest of the day. This creamer makes my 5 hours of sleep seem not as devastating.

6.Huggies Slip-On Diapers
D has been taking his diapers off since he was able to take a few steps. While I allow him to roam freely in the nude at our house, other places it is not acceptable. These are awesome for quick changes and he is beginning to pull them up in down as he prepares for the potty.

7. Boogie Wipes
These are soft saline wipes for baby's nose. D does not run from me when he sees me coming anymore. Also they smell delicious. 

8. Moon Dough
Moon Sand is so messy and play dough is great, but sometimes overdone. I love the soft texture of moon dough and the fact that it never dries out. It is a good alternative to playdough and you will not have to worry about someone putting the lid on it when you go to recess.

9. Thirty-One Large Utility Tote
My friend Shauna started selling Thirty-One and I knew I wanted this bag when I saw it. It is huge and helps me tote things back and forth from school. It is collapsable and holds a ton. I lucked out and got one for Christmas after I had already ordered one for myself. Click Here for a link to her site.

10. Mom's Weekly Planner I live out of this thing. It literally has something scribbled on everyday throughout the school year. This is my second year buying it.

11. Purex Laundry Sheets
I love being able to buy one item to take care of all my laundry needs. We go through about 12-20 loads of laundry a week and this one little item buys me an extra minute.

I really enjoyed writing up this list. I had to make sure I only put things on there that were totally awesome.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ornament Attempt #1

In an attempt to add ornaments to my child magnet, I mean Christmas Tree, I picked up a 6 pack of clear glass ornaments from Michael's for $2. I found 3 different acrylic paints from my craft cabinet and gave a few squirts inside the glass. I shook the irnament around, allowing the paint to spread. They ended up being one of my favorite crafts for the year. They match my Christmas colors and my house. Tomorrow I will try to snap a pic in the light.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Crafting Tonight

I painted a flower pot Christmas tree with acrylic paint. Then I found a cheap star at Michaels and hot glued it to the top.

Next I used a foam wreath and 3 different rolls if tulle cut into 20 inch strips to make a wreath. I just tied the tulle to the wreath. I bought the bow to put on it, but the colors are not a match. I might try to pick up some ornaments to glue around it instead. My husband said I need to slow down on the wreath making. He just doesn't understand!

Gingerbread Playdough Recipe

Gingerbread Playdough

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Mix together on medium low heat until it starts to unstick from the pan. Put it on wax paper and continue to knead it until it forms a big ball. Store in an airtight container.

Run, Run, Fast as you can...

Today I had a gingerbread day. We read The Gingerbread Man, glue misc. pieces to make a gingerbread man, had gingerbread shape sorter sets and patterned gingerbread people. I also picked up a bag of gingerbread cookie mix. I usually have the children add the ingredients, but I really wanted them to dig in and get messy. They were each given a glob of gingerbread to shape and mold as they please. Most of it ended up looking like feces. This apparently was the straw that broke the camel's back for my aide. She was recovering from the stomach flu she had all weekend and ended up leaving for the day during the activity. Solo cooking with 2 and 3 year olds was busy and messy, but totally worth it!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cinnamon Stick Candles

Due to my lack of Christmas spirit this year, I have not been crafting as much as usual. Yesterday while organizing my craft supplies in search of scotch tape, I found some things to keep me busy. I found some pillar candles from Dollar Tree ($1 each) and 2 bags of cinnamon sticks (also $1 each). I hotglued the sticks to the candles and they made a nice filler for the middle of my table centerpiece. Cheap and easy and they smell delicious!

Tough Cowboy

Even though C was born in South Carolina, his heart belongs to Texas. After having his 4th birthday last month, he had a velcro wallet stuffed with 30 crumbled dollars. We have tried on and surfed the internet for a reasonable pair. While I want decent shoes for him to wear, I do not want to spend a ton of money on shoes he will trash.(shoes are not one of the items that usually qualify for hand-me-down status.) We finally found a pair at Academy for $20 so we snatched them up. He has decided they make him look like a tough cowboy. My brother and sister-in-law came over while the big boys were gone and picked him up for a surprise evening. They then took him to get a cowboy hat and ride a horse. He might not be in the hospitality field afterall. I am now hoping for a future ranch owner or farmer.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Future Hospitality Worker

Every year we are fortunate enough to have each class reenact the Christmas Story. This year C has reprised his role as the Innkeeper. He has been practicing every night telling us he has "No rooms here, but you can sleep in the barn." I cannot wait to see it again this year. Here is last year's picture:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Back Again

The holidays bring out the worst in me. My tree is up. House is decorates with all the gifts wrapped and assigned. I know it is a time to reflect on our many blessings, but it brings tension and chaos to our family.

Whose Christmas is it this year? How long do we have to stay? Who is going to visit? Will we have a place to sleep? Every year I think it will get easier and every year brings the same added insanity and I feel a mental breakdown slowly approaching. I am so blessed to have healthy family members and for the most part, understanding relatives, but I as Christmas nears I feel overwhelmed and anxious. It is Jesus' birthday, not mine.

 I have made an early resolution to push through this month with a smile and take a step back from the craziness. I am going to try to stay positive and not hold a grudge this year. Hopefully next week I will have some cute ideas posted and loose the scrooge attitude.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Black Friday

I am having a debate with myself over going or staying in. We have bought all of our presents for our boys and nephews, but it sounds so tempting. Most of the gifts we have bought this year have been purchased through awesome online deals or the huge Target clearance at the end of the summer. It is not a good deal if no one is going to use the item or if it is so cheap that it breaks after a few days. While it makes sense for me to stay home, I cannot make any guarantees. I guess it will depend on how chaotic my house is on Thursday night/Friday morning. My guess is the long lines, crazy shoppers, and crowded roads will be less insane.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Burlap Wreath

Tonight at Hobby Lobby I stumbled upon some clearance burlap and an 80% off fall sale. It was only a yard so I cut the burlap in 4in x 1yd strips and just wove it through a wire hanger I had smoothed out. I added 2 accents I got for a few bucks and twisted the wire hanger together at the top. I might add a bow but haven't decided yet.

Homework Havoc

As I am now approaching the 1 hour mark of my 8 year old sitting at the counter doing his homework, I am growing more and more frustrated. Was he not at school for 7 1/2 hours today? I find it hard to believe that in 7 1/2 hours there is still more time that my child needs to be sitting at home during his free time filling out ditto sheets (this is a totally different rant).

While this is not the typical for A and his teachers are usually very kind about the amount of work they send home, it is still very frustrating. I remember walking in the front door and straight out of the back one, disappearing until dusk. I am saddened that my children are not afforded this luxury as they are inside studying. If I wanted my child to sit at the kitchen table and do school work, then I would homeschool. It would be a much easier schedule, we would get to go out of town more, and I would not have to worry about the negative influence of some of the other children. Hmm the more I think about it, the better it sounds.

Melissa and Doug 25% off coupon

My friends at school and my own children love Melissa and Doug products. Take the poll right here and get a 25% off your total order coupon emailed to you. It is valid from November 20-December 31st. I plan on stocking up on some more items for my Dramatic Play center.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Corn Prints

In keeping with my corn theme today, we stamped yellow corn on 11x13 constuction paper. I used potato mashers from Walmart for this activity. After we were finished my aide and I decided these would also be great beehives!

Corn Sensory Tub

Today's touch table is simple yet fun! I just bought a bag of deer corn from walmart and added some shovels, buckets, and bowls. I am going to add large sieves and funnels later this week.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Shopping List 11/13

Wow! The Christmas deals are starting. I always get overwhelmed with all the ads and coupons. I constantly have to remind myself that I don't have to catch every single deal out there.

Toys R Us- Lego sets are 25% off and you get a free lego miniature display case with a $60 purchase. Also in the newspaper ad today there is a coupon for a $10 gift card with a purchase of $75. My boys are super into legos this year and they are hard on the pocket book.

Target offering up an XBOX 360 for $199 with a $50 gift card with purchase. We are DEFINATELY doing this for the boys this year.

Michael's-Print your 40% off coupon here

Hobby Lobby-Print your 40% off coupon here

Dreaded Sock Pile

Not to toot my own horn, but my house is usually pretty clean. My daily chores include sweeping and mopping, wiping down the bathrooms, and washing all the mirrors and glass doors. I could not bear the thought of leaving dirty dishes in my sink or not making all the beds before I leave in the morning. That being said, I feel like I need to "air my dirty laundry". I can not stand mating socks. Even though we lay out everyone's clothes and bags, we always spend way too much time searching for socks in the morning. Tonight I am making the concious effort to end that chaotic daily routine. I am looking forward to a much smoother week!

Duggar Dilemna

Am I the only person who feels bad for the Duggar family? Who cares if she is having her twentieth baby?!? They pay their bills and lead a happy, Christian life.
I can remember the excitement of my first two boys births. I had loads of help, was surrounded by family, and everyone was anxious to meet our newest addition. Every precious moment was treasured as well as every coo or grin.
Then I remember my third child's birth. I stayed alone at the hospital (we lived in South Carolina), had no visitors, no help, and my husband only wad there for the delivery and then to pick me up. My neighbor had to watch my older boys while I was in labor and James ran home 30 minutes later.
Even worse is having a fourth child in your hometown and having every person question ask you "Again?" when they see you. I had no friend visitors once again although I was only in the hospital for 24 hours. (They pretty much push you out of the door ASAP if you have over 3 children)
My point is that all babies should be celebrated no matter how many you have. The Duggars are not asking for money or assistance. My family does not receive money and assistance. Just because someone chooses to have a large family does not make the baby or family less special. I could not imagine life without these 2 sweet little boys.
I think they are even cute in a blurry Iphone pic!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Great Turkey Books

Here are the awesome Turkey Books we have read this week! My favorite is Gobble Gobble Crash...a barnyard counting book.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pinecone Turkeys

In keeping with my Turkey week, today we made pinecone turkeys for our art museum. A little glue and a few feathers later, we had a pretty cute turkey. I did glue the beak and gobbler on because I used the glue gun, but the feathers, eyes, glue were all them. Some even made one to send to grandma!

Here is the body getting a chance to dry

A finished product completed by one of my older children

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Toys R Us Coupons

With Christmas quickly approaching, I feel it is my friendly duty to keep my family and friends up to speed on my deals. Here are all the sweet new Toys R Us coupons.

Discounts for Educators/Homeschoolers

Last night while I was supposed to be returning pants to Old Navy, I ventured down the mall. Naturally I wandered into Books-a-Million to check out the clearance section. I picked out 5 awesome Thanksgiving books for my preschoolers and went to the checkout. It happened to be a day that I wore my staff shirt and the Manager asked if I new about their educator program. As frugal as I am you would think I would have knew that educators INCLUDING homeschool parents save 20% on books they are using for their classroom. Of course I signed up! I also decided to investigate the other places I can save money. Here is my list:

Books-a-Million- 20% off includes homeschool parents!

Michael's-15% off for teachers with an ID card

Joann's-Sign up here for 15% off every purchase as well as bonus coupons

Office Depot-Star Teacher Program off ink, toner, and paper Register here

The Container Store-Register Here for the Organized Teacher Program to get 15% off purchases

The Limited and NY & Co- 15% off with ID or Pay stub

Monday, November 7, 2011

Halloween 2011

There are some things you do to make your children happy that make you look back and think "Wow, I am a dork" This is one of those moments. We were in El Paso for the past week spending much needed time with my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and sweet nephew. We are so lucky to have other people in our family who share our nerdiness.

Telephone Addiction

D has a definate telephone addiction. I will admit to picking up a phone or two in the checkout to quiet him down. Of course, I could never admit this to my friends.

He cries when he sees phones, if someone answers one, if we don't let him say hello to the person on the line, or if anyone grabs one of his. It is a huge problem in out house. It only adds to the problem that technology is so advanced everyone always has a cell phone.

We are actually missing 2 phones in the picture. He has the blackberry in the van and left a Cinderella one at Uncle Casey's. As you can see, he is not picky.

Painting Turkeys

I know some Early Childhood people are against cutouts to paint, but occasionally we do them. Today I had large turkey cut-outs to go along with our theme. We used brown paint and stuck feathers to them while they were wet. It was interesting to watch the children. Some dabbed paint and added feathers one at a time and others painted the whole turkey and sprinkled feathets on. They turned out cute so I needed to post a picture for myself.

5 Little Turkeys

Five little turkeys standing at the door,
One waddled off, and then there were four.

Four little turkeys sitting near a tree,
One waddled off, and then there were three.

Three little turkeys with nothing left to do,
One waddled off, and then there were two.

Two little turkeys in the morning sun,
One waddled off, and then there was one.

One little turkey had better run away,
For very, very, soon it will be Thanksgiving Day!

I used precut turkeys and hotglued them to popsicle sticks for this story. As with most flannelboard stories or fingerplays, after I am done with them during circle, I leave them out for the children to use. This is why I make most of my things with cheap or recycled goods.

Fall Sensory Table

I bought a small bale of hay from Hobby Lobby and added few bags of pumpkins and squash from Dollar Tree, a few turkey Feathers and rakes. This is messy, but the children have loved it

Recycled Juice Box Blocks

My boys love CapriSun and I have always thought about the boxes being nice and sturdy. I found some sturdy wrapping paper at Michael's for $1 and covered them using packing tape at the ends. They are awesome for jumbo blocks and the children can use markers or stamps to decorate them!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Shopping List 10/23

There is so much going on with my family lately, but I still make time to craft!

Michael's has ribbon this week 3 for a $1 so I am going to stock up for Christmas. Also they have 24 inch pine wreaths at $5.99 each. You know I like to hang a wreath on every door in the house. Here are all the coupons for the week!

Hobby Lobby has been my favorite place to get crafts lately. It is so much bigger than Michael's and they have fabric! Spray Paint is 30% off this week and I need some fall colors. I love the small cans they carry!
I also need some felt as I am going to make some adjustments to the boys fabric bins in their room. Here is the 40% coupon for the week.

CVS is my candy store hook up for the week. We have lots of Halloween Parties and treat bags to fill. Candy is 4 for $7 after ECB's and there were tons of $1 off 2 coupons last week.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

World Series Break

I have been so busy with my husband working a normal schedule. I was used to him being here 3-4 days a week. This week the World Series is on and my Texas Rangers are in it. Of course they are playing the St. Louis Cardinals and my friends and family have spent the week heckling me. On top of a busy week, evaluations due for preschool, and the World Series, my inlaws are coming into town tomorrow night. I will be using my treadmill and running after the boys are in bed while I watch the Rangers.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Outside Sensory Table

I made a sensory table from pvc pipe and plastic rubbermaid containers. I was going to take it to preschool, but it is in the backyard right now. D loves having it here. We had water in it and he loved scooping it and drinking it. Of course we do this while my germaphobe husband was at work! Someday I will post the pictures of the World's largest mud puddle (according to A) in the backyard!

Importance of Displaying Their Work

I think it is so important for the boys to have freedom in creating their work. It is equally important to display their work. They have work on the fridge, their walls, dad's office and in a rubbermaid in my closet after it comes down.

Cael worked forever on this paper while the boys did their homework. Then he just had to add it to the fridge with a few magnets. He is so cute!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Easy Halloween Crafts UPDATED PICS

This week was especially busy as my husband started his new job and we all adjusted to our new schedule. I did find a little time to craft. I modge podged a jack-o-lantern and friends on a mason jar ($1.50) and used scrapbook paper and letters from Hobby Lobby to make a sign (cost $7). I need to stop doing Halloween projects and start on Thanksgiving. The frame is a $1 frame with a $1 bag of eyes from Michael's. I am making a sign today and officially starting Thanksgiving crafts.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Most people dress up because it is Halloween, but not us. We play dress-up year round. This is my favorite time of year to stock up on costumes for my children and preschoolers. I am counting down days until November 1st to see what I can score.

Cheap Baby Wipes

I also use Amazon to order our wipes. This morning I scored a 720 count box (10 packs) for $9.29. So you end up paying about 93cents per pack and it is shipped to your door. The cool thing about Amazon Subscribe and Save is that you are under no obligation to keep it. If you get the first shipment and decide you don't want anymore, log into your account and cancel it. 

See this post for Cheap Diaper FAQ.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Washing Machine Finds

Today was a good day for goodies found in the washer. I have to remind myself to check those sneaky cargo pockets. Today we have 2 pencils, some loose change, Spidey, a wad of trash, a popped balloon,  and a hair clip. This is one of my biggest loot finds to date!

This compares to this awesome day of laundry:

Shopping List 10/9

Michaels- there are 2 great coupons for Michael's this week. This one for 50% off good for today and tomorrow and this one for 40% good for Tuesday though Saturday. Craft pumpkins are half off this week so I think I am going to grab some to embellish with sequins. Also I am using my half off coupon for black feather boas.

Hobby Lobby- Here is the 40% off any item for this week.

Target- Buy 2 Gillette Proglide razors and get a $5 gift card. These are $9.89 and if you use 2 $5 off coupons from last week's paper you will pay $4.78 after gift card.

CVS- Not crazy about this ad. I have $11 in Extra Care Bucks and I am on my last pack of the Buy 6 get 1 free promo so I am going to get an extra pack of diapers for D to take to school.

Walgreens- I only see more candy corn 2 for $2. I am going to try my hand at Homemade Butterfingers from here.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sensory Table #4

In honor of October being National Pasta Month and seeing an awesome sensory tub on Counting Coconuts, I made my own. It has:
3 boxes of tricolor rotini
Brown poms for meatballs
A clean parm cheese shaker
Pasta spoons
Regular spoons
Going to add bowls for sorting

I am going to use this with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

It will also be a great day to do a little Spaghetti Painting:

Be on the lookout for pics to follow
Also Parents Magazine had a great Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Recipe but their website doesn't have the pics up yet. Boo!

More Money Saving Opportunities for Christmas

A great way I get extra money is I have a Shop At Home and Ebates account. Any purchases I make through these websites give me a percentage back. I do the majority of my Christmas shopping online so I get a nice refund in February when my holiday purchases are taking a toll. If you sign up you will get an automatic $5 in your account.

I love that these websites also have special daily deals and sometimes they give you all your money back for certain purchases. I love free stuff!

Click Here for Shop at Home

Click Here for Ebates

Diaper Programs

Most people don't take the time to peel off the sticker that comes on the wipe packs, diapers, and pull-ups. I didn't do it when I had the first 2 boys and now wish I had. Huggies and Pampers both have reward programs that allow you to get toys, gift cards, free diapers and special discounts just by entering in these codes. They both work the same and just require you to enter in the special code found on the inside of diaper and wipe packs. This is how I get most of my gift cards (Applebee's, Dairy Queen, Sam's Club, etc). The prizes change often so make sure and check frequently.

Huggies Here

Pampers Here

All my friends need to do this to cash in on cool stuff!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Big Lots Friends and Family

I received an email with a link for 20% off your entire purchase at Big Lots on Sunday, October 9th. I think I am going to see if I can find some awesome baskets and craft junk for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here is the link if anyone else is bargain hunting this weekend.

Mummy Jars

My friend Jen made these and posted a pic on facebook. Of course, I fell in love. These are made from a spaghetti sauce jar and a banana pepper jar. I just used crepe paper to wrap them and hot glued some eyes. I think the are adorable! I am going to buy some LED battery tea lights to put in them! Also I bought the crepe paper and eyes for only $1 at Dollar Tree

She had a whole mess of them lined on her shelf and they were adorable. Maybe I can add a few more...