Category Archives: Silhouette Projects

Summer Schedule Sanity

I don’t like to over schedule the summer, but I do schedule a couple things for the kids. We love town swim lessons at the local pool, library visits, and the imagination station for crafts.

This year I signed up my oldest for a couple extra activities and she completely panicked. The thought of something on her summer agenda was overwhelming to her, especially since she misunderstood her teacher’s instructions on how long to practice math everyday. The thought of all three of my children at home all day long with no scheduled interruptions where they won’t be asking me what to do made ME completely panic too.

The teacher said ten minutes of math iXL a day; Savannah thought she said ten HOURS a day. Plus of course, she needed to practice reading and writing everyday.

How could she possibly complete her school work and participate in a sports camp?

Once I talked her off that ledge I tried to come up with a few visual things that would help her understand that she has LOTS of free play time and LOTS of opportunity to choose what to fill it with.

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I repurposed my Silhouette Advent Calendar frame and cut up some Project Life cards to make our Summer Fun board. We listed all the fun things we hope to do and put them all on cards. I even included the days and hours the activity was open for ease of reference. Savannah was happy to see all of these ideas on the board.

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I took a couple empty jars and put some washi tape on them to make Media Ticket Jars for each child. I cut up more project life cards (such a versatile product!) to make the tickets and put them all in a little basket by their chore pack hooks.

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Only problem is Savannah is now binge working on her workbook to bank up media tickets. I may have to rethink some of this, but hey, at least she is doing schoolwork without any prompting!

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The local library has a summer reading contest where you get entries based on the number of books you review. A brief two to four sentence review was all that was required. I have a journal for Savannah and Luke to write their reviews in and then I submit them on the library website. I’d prefer them to write out their reviews as opposed to typing because they are still developing their handwriting skills and learning to communicate via the written word. To throw in “learn to type” too didn’t seem like a great use of time! One book review equals one media ticket too. I’m grateful our kids enjoy reading.

I still need to hang up a book log for easy record keeping somewhere.

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I keep our schedules on my phone and on our wall calendar. It’s two months at a time and is dry erase and each person has a designated color. Yes, it’s double work, but Savannah and Luke are old enough to be able to read the calendar and they enjoy having a little knowledge and control over our commitments. It also helps them understand why I may say “no” to an activity when they see we have a prior commitment. The only thing that bugs me about this set up is when, for example, July is on the left of June, but I don’t feel like moving the boards! I have a couple frames underneath that we use for lists, memory verses and my favorite, the #1000 gifts board- a place to write things we are thankful to God for- things big and small.

All that said, I am not very good at scheduling time with friends. Or date nights, because we have yet to put babysitting as a budget line item and freebies are pretty rare for us. I am typically a last minute person with our free time, and it doesn’t always work out to get together with friends, unless they are spontaneous people with an open schedule that day. Maybe I should work on those this summer!

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Filed under crafts, DIY, home life, Household Helps, Kids Activities, organization, parenthood, Silhouette Projects

We have a Jedi, we call him Luke

We always knew that we’d have a Star Wars themed birthday party at some point in our house, especially after that ultrasound in 2009 when the technician said “It’s a boy!”

Star Wars is, hands down, Keith’s favorite movie series (saga? trilogy? double trilogy?) in the history of ever. And yes, I think he said “Luke, I am your Father” in the delivery room. Keith has successfully passed down that love of all things Jedi to our son Luke and this year was the perfect opportunity to execute the Star Wars birthday plan.

We actually bought a Star Wars themed birthday basket from a charity auction when we were pregnant with Savannah (I know, very nerdy of us) and it’s sat in the basement for seven years, and even moved to two different houses with us. The kit had goodie bags, papergoods, tablecloth and some dangly decor.

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I found a couple invitation ideas on pinterest and downloaded a Jedi font from dafont to make them.

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I went a little crazy with the cake and created R2D2 out of 3 cake mixes, using an 8 inch cake pan several times and a metal bowl that I sprayed the heck out of to make the R2’s domed top. 2015/01/img_2452.jpg2015/01/img_2454.jpg

R2’s legs were made out of a pan of rice krispie treats and the whole thing was smothered in several batches of buttercream frosting. The legs were attached to the main body with shishkabob skewers.2015/01/img_2458.jpg

The birthday banner was made with the Jedi font on my Silhouette, and I am starting to wonder if I should start selling these? They are fun(though time consuming) to make and a cute custom addition to birthday parties.

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I couldn’t find a Star Wars-ish pinata locally, so I purchased a soccer ball pinata and spray painted it silver. After it dried and I filled it, I painted geometric shapes and used electical tape to make it look like the Death Star.

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I nixed the idea of actual goodie bags, since my house gets easily cluttered with goodie bag stuff from parties, and we made custom t-shirts for all of the guests that said “Jedi Master ____” in gold paint. I cut the stencils out of freezer paper on my Silhouette and the big kids had an opportunity to help paint the shirts.

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We live around the block from a children’s gym/ tumbling place and we were able to utilize their open play time for an hour before coming back to our house for pizza, pinata and cake.

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The foam pit was a favorite location for my kids as they acted out the trash compactor scene from one of the Star Wars movies.

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While I am a little anti- pull string pinata, I have to admit that the pinata part of the party went from tame…

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To “Careful guys, stand back please!”

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And then “BACK UP GUYS!!!!”

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Culminating in my Matrix-like backbend to save the children when one of Luke’s friends swung like Babe Ruth.

Despite the challenges, we are still a Pro-Legit-Pinata family. I will just set up barricades next time. Haha.

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Hope you had the happiest of birthdays Luke! You are a joy to see grow up into a little man!

And friends… we are still working on those thank you notes… not a strong point of ours for punctual mail. eeek!

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Chore packs- how they work for us

Have you ever struggled with keeping your children engaged and responsible with household chores? Or do your kids have trouble simply remembering all the difficult steps there are to get dressed for school (like, go potty, make bed, get dressed, put dirty clothes in the hamper, etc). Yeah, us too.

What works for us right now is using my own variation of “chore packs.” I made a set for our then four and six year olds several months back and it helps them stay on task.

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Our two and a half year old is asking for her own chore pack, so this afternoon Savannah and I are going to assemble one for her.

I found bits and piece of ideas online and asked a graphic designer friend to add a few icons that I wasn’t able to figure out myself. There are icons for all of the basic hygiene things the kids need to do on a daily basis in the morning- go potty, brush teeth, comb hair, wipe counter, make bed, and put dirty clothes in the hamper.

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I keep the “morning” set on their chore packs all the time. If I need help with things in the afternoon, I’ll slip on a different split ring onto their lanyard with various chores.

I have icons for set the table, clear the table, wash the dishes, feed the dog, empty the dishwasher, water flowers, pick up toys, fold laundry, put clean laundry away, sweep the floor, mop the floor, wash mirrors and windows, vacuum, take out the garbage and I have a blank mommys-choice card too that I can write on with a dry erase marker.

Granted they never have to do ALL of that at the same time! But they get a chunk of chores to do on Saturdays and they usually are required to help with meal prep and clean ups every day.

The best thing about this system is that I never have to ask “did you do this, this, and this?” They just know they need to complete their chore pack. When they are done, they are done. Free to do as they please. They are responsible for this wearable list, and they won’t be able to forget what they are supposed to do. It’s right around their neck!

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We feel using this type of system has improved our relationship with our older kids because there is no more nagging or needing to check up on the three things we sent them to do: they are responsible. They know what to do and we know they can do it. Luke is always so proud to finish his chore pack. Savannah secretly is too, but she thinks she is “too old” for them. Which is partially true, she does an excellent job doing all of the daily tasks without being reminded. Her bed is always made every day, her hair combed and teeth brushed. But having the pack on the weekends is helpful because her tasks change from week to week. There is not a consistent routine other than you-have-chores.

We also like that we are splitting up some household tasks- we say that if we work together then we can play together. While the kids do some light duty work, Keith does that too (and yes, sometimes I leave out the kids chore pack cards for him- much easier than finding paper to write him a list!), and I clean the bathrooms and change all the sheets.

It’s my hope and my heart that our kids will develop habits of discipline and of serving others through this exercise, as well as provide an opportunity to tangibly take care of what God has entrusted us with. It also helps keep our house running more smoothly to have a weekly re-set. Or two. Lord knows our house isn’t the neatest in the world… I am a creative person and us creatives tend to be messy (with seven different projects going on at a time)!

We’ve been off schedule for a while, with traveling and Christmas, so I am re-instituting our Saturday chorepack mornings this weekend. We have a birthday party to attend (the whole family!) at 10 am, so my goal is for everyone to be up and moving, with the house cleaned from top to bottom before we leave. Here goes nothing!

You can download the icons in two different sizes here and here. Just print it on cardstock, cut out the icons and mat them onto some colored scrapbook paper. Hole punch the tops and grab a few binder ring clips. Let your child pick out their ribbon to make the lanyard.  I recommend laminating to prolong the life of the cards.

 

 

 

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Ultimate Girls Spy Party

A few months back, we had an amazingly fun Spy themed birthday party for our daughter. I found bits and pieces of ideas from the interwebs and put this together.

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We went with a “007” theme since she was turning 7, and I found some images that I was able to import and trace in my Silhouette Studio software for the invitation and party extras. After some deliberating with fellow mom-friends and my cousin, who’s a second grade teacher, we decided to drop the gun part of the 007 bond logo. I didn’t want to make waves on the playground. But, FYI, if you include it in yours I am totally not offended.

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The invitations turned out really cute. We included a tiny envelope that said “Your Secret Mission” that included the URL for the flipagram we created. It was set to the James Bond theme song. Obviously.

 

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And a birthday isn’t a birthday around these parts without a custom banner and accessories.

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The girls were greeted at the front door with a sign, which was, admittedly, the most lame thing I created. I ran outta steam.

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After the girls came in, they came to our dining table where each person had a pink file folder and materials to make their own badge. We had washable pink ink pads for the girls to put their fingerprint on their badge too. I had intended to print a tiny picture of each girl and have it on their badge, but I’m no pinterest show, so I let that one slide.

 

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Inside each of the folders was a letter explaining what the girls had to do to complete their 007 Spy training.

We had a yarn/ laser bean obstacle course:

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An exercise in “hiding in plain sight” a.k.a dress up:/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/ee5/28020644/files/2015/01/img_2507.jpg

 

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And my favorite- cracking the cipher code. We printed up the alphabet in a Wingdings type font on cardstock, cut each letter match out, and carefully put them inside black ballons. We dropped 26 balloons on the girls and they needed to “diffuse” the bombs to get the code.

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After cracking the code, we broke for lunch, after which a new mission mysteriously appeared in an envelope. It seemed Dr. No stole the “loot bags” and hid them somewhere.

The new mission directed each of the girls to look for a clue on the underside of their lunch plate. The clues led each of them to a random place in the house (freezer, laundry room, piano bench, etc) where they each found an envelope containing a word written in cipher code.

The girls worked together to decode each of the words and then figured out the order of the sentence. They discovered that the loot bags were inside a locked cedar chest, and where to find the key. After they found the loot bags we celebrated by having cake and presents.

For those of you who like lists, the party flow was about 2 hours and went as follows:

  1. Guests arrive- badge craft
  2. Game time
    1. yarn/laser obstacle course
    2. dress up/ hiding in plain sight
    3. cracking the cipher code
  3. Lunch
  4. New Mission
    1. find new clues
    2. decode clues
    3. find loot bags
  5. Cake & Presents

All of my silhouette files are available on my google drive. Hope you can use some of these ideas to have a fun party for your children too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Halloween 2014

Halloween was so three weeks ago, but I worked so hard on everyone’s costume I just had to share!

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For the first time in forever, everybody had a handmade costume. Even me and Keith.

It all started with an oops- I purchased a Frozen pattern from Joann’s that had a photo of a child Elsa and adult Anna. As I was cutting out the pattern pieces it struck me that the sizes were in numbers when I was expecting S-M-L and that the smallest size looked huge for Savannah.

Keith offered to go to Joann’s and buy the right pattern. Which was awesome because I was about to cry at that moment.

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I spent every spare minute working on costumes from about Mid October on.

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Sydney’s costume was the warmest and most practical for a Buffalo Halloween. She made a cute Olaf!

My costume was partly following a pattern and partly winging it. I found an image of Anna’s embroidered top and used my Silhouette to trace it and create a freezer paper stencil.

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I used fabric paint to recreate the embroidery on an old gym tank.

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Savannah loved having is us Frozen characters for her class party. Her joy was worth any smidge of embarrassment I felt walking down the elementary school halls with my costume!

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Savannah was one of EIGHT Elsa’s in her class. There are eleven girls in her class: 8 were Elsa, one was Anna, one was a clown and one was a cowgirl.

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Luke was Kristoff. His costume was pretty simple. I used an old t shirt of Keith’s and cut the sleeves and neckline. I added faux fur and trim to the shirt, paired it with jeans and his sisters old wannabe Uggs from last year. I sewed up a set of brown mittens and put a black slouchy beanie on his head to complete the look.

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Keith was Sven the reindeer. His costume was a felt poncho that I hot glued faux fur to. I sneezed all night after making it from all the snippets of fur that flew everywhere!

It was fun, and slightly embarrassing to stroll through the neighborhood all decked out with he kids, but they had a blast and loved that our whole family were characters from the same movie.

I wonder what they’ll ask me to do for next year!!!

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Corralling the Chaos Overview

Long time, no blog. It’s a long story, but all my crafty stuff is packed away. It stinks but I am hopeful that we will soon find a space in the house in which I can once again be creative!

I was asked to help out with a round table discussion on “Corralling the Chaos” at my local MOPS group a few weeks ago. I thought I’d blog about what I’ve learned so far. Not sure why they asked me!

I think it’s because they all saw the back of my minivan. 🙂

First off, I am no expert. Just a regular ole mom of three. Many days I think I stink at everything and am an utter failure, organization wise and a hundred other ways! Well, at least compared to my Pinterest fantasies. And that’s what we are always up against, our perceptions of realities. Those perceptions will hurt you. Enslave you. Damage you. So take a deep breath and cut yourself some slack. I have to do that all the time. Sometimes I need my friends to remind me of this!

Second, motherhood is NOT A COMPETITION. There is no medal to win for who has the cleanest house, who lost the baby weight the fastest, who contributes to the greater community more.

Third, other moms are a WEALTH of information and knowledge that you can glean from. I do that all the time! My friend Tia coached me through my freak-out-attack about getting my then 4 year old, 2 year old, and newborn up, dressed, fed and out the door by 8:30 am last summer. I’m happy to say that her suggestions worked and I still use them! (She suggested everyone get dressed, beds made & teeth brushed before going downstairs to have breakfast). Ask for ideas and then see if it works in your house.

I have blogged in the past about some of my organizational challenges that I have sort of overcome. You can check out my past posts on:

Systems and labels work really well for me. I like to label everything so I don’t have an excuse of where to put something and just seeing a label reminds me to put my stuff away!

Better Homes and Gardens has free label downloads that I really like. Some of the templates you can personalize (as in no handwriting! because my handwriting stinks!). I used the basket weave template to organize our bathroom closet. I have six canvas bins to hold all of our stuff in categories- Children’s Meds, Adult Meds, Topical/First Aid, Lotions, Hair Products, and Hair/ Nail accessories and have a catch all bin at the bottom for extra stuff. I could probably use more bins, but I don’t have anymore room in the closet!

Bathroom closet 

I have also created labels on my Silhouette as well, for everything from Monday-Friday clothing tags for my kids’ clothes to laundry room labels.

We used one of our old college bookcases to house shoes and laundry necessities in our basement laundry area. I repurposed some vintage flour/sugar canisters for detergent, clothes pins and a lost & found. I also have some baskets for items that need to go to the Salvation Army, items that need to be mended an dryer sheets.

 

My closet isn’t a fancy California Closet type thing, just regular wire shelving, but adding labels helps me stay on track with putting clothes in the right places. The blue labels for my husband’s items also prevents me from overtaking his space in our shared closet.

What are some chaotic areas you’d like to corral?

I’m out of time today, but next time I’ll share what exactly is IN all those compartments in the back of my minivan!

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Big Boy Room Progress

My little man is growing up.

He runs, he jumps, he swims, and he climbs (out of the crib). It’s time for the Big Boy Room.

We’ll be needing that crib for the baby soon enough. For the time being, Sydney’s in a basinette in our room.

I found an inspiration room on pinterest and made my own twists on it. We’re going for the “hunter/ explorer” theme and this is the progress we’ve made so far:

Bedding- I bought the bedding from (gasp) Pottery Barn. Honest, it’s the only Pottery Barn purchase I think I have ever made. It was crazy wicked on sale, so I don’t feel too guilty, and making a quilt myself at this current juncture of having a new baby in the house would probably send me to the nuthouse (so said my loving and level headed husband).

I made the throw pillows with some duck cloth I had on hand and stuffed them with an old pillow cut in half! I used my Silhouette and freezer paper to create the name and antler stencils.

Window Coverings- I saved some money by NOT purchasing the coordinating valence from Pottery Barn. I just made my own with $5 worth of fabric.

Organization- I used my Silhouette to make hanging labels for the drawers for organization (more on household organization next week!).

Some things we have left to do:

  • Wall Mural- We’re thinking an acacia tree of some sort. I have a board on Pinterest if you want to weigh in on the candidates!
  • Hanging decor
  • Bear rug- I saw this on the Cabella’s website and decided it was too expensive, so I am going to DIY a bear rug for a fraction of the price.
  • Storage
  • Reading Nook
  • Lighting

Good thing we’re not in a huge rush to get this all done. Slow and steady wins the race!

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