February 2014 Goals

I stumbled upon a great monthly goals link-up, and being the planner that I am, I love the idea! I am trying to keep these monthly goals attainable, specific, and easy to track.

February Goals

*Plan and have a fun date night with the hubby (not only is it Valentine’s Day, our anniversary is this month as well!)
*Workout 17 days this month. (I know, it would be easier to say “every second day” or “x amount of times per week”, but I feel like I need more ‘wiggle room’ than that).
*Stick to our new homeschool schedule. The kids are thriving with it, and we all love being finished for the day by 1pm.
*Brainstorm a list of fundraising ideas with the kids for Relay for Life.
*Start de-cluttering (again!). I want to declutter our bedroom this month- shelves, dresser, and closet.
*Finish sewing together quilt blocks.

I will check-in at the end of the month to let you all know how I’ve done!

You can find the link-up here.

Superhero Cape and Mask Tutorial!

I made these for the birthday boy and all of his guests at my son’s fifth birthday party last weekend and they went over so well that I thought I would share the tutorial with you all!

The Cape

First I cut rectangles out of fabric (I left the fold in the center so I could cut two at once). I measured between my son’s shoulder blades (10”) and then added 4” to allow a lot of seam allowance, I did the same for the length and came up with 28”. This is where my quilting mat and rotary cutter came in handy! Two of the tools I didn’t think I needed until I had them!

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I started by hemming the fabric on three sides (bottom and sides). I ironed and pinned about 1/4” seams, and then straight stitched with coordinating thread.

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Then along the top edge I created a “pocket” to slide the neck strap through. I folded about 1/4” in, and then folded again about 1.5”. Ironed and sewed it up with a straight stitch.

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(And yes, at this point I was still using our Christmas table cloth! I’m pleased to report that it is gone now!)

Next, I made the neck straps. I cut the strips of fabric about 16” long and 2.5” wide. I ironed them in half and used a zig-zag stitch to sew the long sides together. Then turn.

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Then I tucked in the ends and straight stitched them closed.

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Then slide the strap through the pocket made on the cape body. (Tip: If you don’t want the strap to slide out, sew through the strap and body at the edge to hold it in place).

Then attach velcro (I used velcro dots for this project). Make sure you’re putting them on the right sides of the straps so that they will fasten properly.

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And you’re cape is finished!

The Mask

You can download my mask templates here.

Cut out two identical masks in different colours for a reversible mask, or the same colour if you prefer.

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Lay them on top of each other and choose a coordinating colour thread. Straight stitch them together, ensuring that you “sandwich” the elastic between the layers.

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I’m sure our little superheroes will enjoy these as much as mine did!

Five?!

This past weekend we celebrated our son’s fifth birthday. Yes, my “baby” boy is five. How did that happen?!

 

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He’s all about superheroes these days, so of course he wanted a superhero party! This couldn’t have made me any happier, you see, I’m kind of a nerd. So I took off into planning mode. I decided that I would do up capes and masks for the birthday boy and all of his guests (I’ll post a tutorial tomorrow!). They were a hit!

Let me tell you, planning winter birthday parties is tough! Most superhero games we could find or think up involved smashing, bashing, or throwing, and I did not think that idea was wise inside the house! So I got some poster board and made a “pin the star on Captain America’s shield”. Another hit!

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And then there was cake!

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But the thing the kid’s were most excited about was, superhero jello!

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Hannah was not, however, excited about the masks!

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Winter Round-Up!

 

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I’m sure I’m not the only one who is finding themselves running short on ideas to keep their children (and themselves!) busy during the winter! So, I’ve compiled a quick round-up of ideas I think everyone will enjoy!

Crafts

Simple Ice Ornaments from Kitchen Counter Chronicles

Ice Ornaments

Felt Snowman from The Little Giggler

felt snowman

Cereal Box Snowman from Spoonful.

Cereal Box Snowman

Paper Plate Penguin from Craft Jr.

Paper Plate Penguin

Painting with Icicles– my toddlers would love this- from Mama Smiles.

Painting with Icicles

Snowman Potato Printing from Growing a Jewelled Rose.

snowman potato printing

Crayon Resist Snowflake Painting from Art Projects for Kids.

crayon resist

Sparkly Snowman Play-Doh from The Connection We Share.

Activities

Squirty Snow Paint from Growing a Jewelled Rose.

snow paint

Dish Soap Snow by You Pinspire Me

Build a Snowman Sensory Tub from You Pinspire Me

build a snowman tub

Snow Storm in a Jar from Raising a Jewelled Rose.

Snow Storm in a Jar

Educational

Snow Science from Creative Family Fun.

Snow Science

Free January Writing Prompts by This Reading Mama.

JanuaryWritingPrompts-free

Sight World Snowball Fight by Coffee Cups and Crayons.

Sight Word Snowball Fight

Recipes

Snow Cream by Nothing if Not Intentional.

snow cream

Hot Chocolate and Cookies from Cookies and Cups.

hot chocolate cookies

Melted Snowman Cookies by My Imperfect Kitchen.

melted snowman cookies

And there you have it, enough great ideas to keep you and your little ones busy all winter long!

Morning Routine

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Yesterday I posted about chores, which inspired me to share with you our morning routine. With four kids, mornings can be hectic, especially on those days when we have to be out of the house for work, hockey, dance, etc! Making my children more “morning-independent” was necessary, but they were constantly asking “what do I need to do now, Mommy?”

My solution was a morning “to do list” for them, it’s posted on the back of their bedroom door, and outlines the tasks: Make Bed, Get Dressed, Brush Teeth, Brush Hair. Complete with pictures for my children that are too young to read.

If mornings are madness in your house, feel free to print one of your own!

Download Morning Sign

How We Do Chores

Recently, a new chore system was put into place at our house. Instead of the typical allowance system, we’ve decided to try a more points-based system.

Chores are important to us. I feel it gives the children a sense of importance, and teaches them the value of hard work. It also makes things run a lot smoother around here just by delegating the smaller jobs to the smaller people.

The kids chores alternate from time to time, but right now it looks like this:

Sophia (2.5), while I don’t expect her to routinely do chores, but she won’t be left out of anything her brother and sister are doing! And I must say, she has surprised me!
-Make bed.
-Pick up toys.
-Clean bedroom.

Rylan (almost 5).
-Make bed.
-Pick up toys.
-Clean bedroom.
-Load dishwasher.
-Clean bathroom sink.
-Dust.

Alyssa (6.)
-Make bed.
-Pick up toys.
-Clean bedroom.
-Unload dishwasher.
-Sweep.
-Dust.
-Put away laundry.

Each chore is assigned a point value (smaller, daily chores such as making their beds are worth 1 while bigger, more time-consuming chores such as cleaning the sink are worth 2-3).

Then, we all sat down together and came up with a rewards list. The kids told us what things they would like to earn and we assigned corresponding points values. A few examples:
-Chocolate bar (20 points).
-Tim Horton’s hot chocolate (30 points).
-$5 (70 points)
-Family game night, complete with snacks (100 points)
-Movie night at home, including movie rental and treats (150 points)
-Barbie/action figure (250 points)
-Trip to the movie theatre, including snacks (350 points)

I expected my kids to want to “spend” their points as soon as they hit enough for the first “trade-in”, but they’ve surprised me, all three of them are saving for a trip to the movie theatre! We’ve decided to allow them to combine their earnings to reach their goal faster, and they’re nearly half way there!

The only issue we had in planning this system was coming up with a way that the children could visually see their points grow. The answer, buttons! Being the obsessive crafter that I am, I literally have thousands of them laying around, and the kids love going through my button jar at the end of each day to make their “deposits” into their cups.

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So far this system has worked great, the children have been working hard and cheerfully! Many days I even have them coming to me to ask for extra jobs!

Bulk Buying/Prepping

We are a family of 6, it just doesn’t make sense for us not to shop in bulk. Sure, we pay $100 annually for a membership, but we save that in a trip or two.

One regular sized box of granola bars will give us one day, where a bulk box can give us two weeks (or more) for only a couple of extra dollars. A 2lb bag of apples might last us 3 or 4 days, but a 10 lb bag lasts a lot longer. Simple logic. However, I believe that even a family of two or three can save money by shopping in bulk if they know how. Know how? It seems simple, and it really is, but I know a lot of people who tell me they’ve “tried the Costco thing” and end up with a refrigerator full of spoiled food because they never use it in time.

The first thing I must stress is planning. If you have a well thought out meal plan, you will drastically cut back on what you’re throwing away.

The second thing, is prepping.

We did a Costco trip yesterday, and while smaller than most (we had just gone last week), we still left with quite a haul. Among those items were a 5lb bag of onions, 10 lbs of carrots, a 3-pack of cucumbers, and 10 lbs of apples. So today, I spent a couple of hours getting it all ready to use.

The first thing I did (after cleaning the kitchen, I have to have a clean kitchen!) had nothing to do with our shopping trip, but I thought it was worth a mention anyway. I love pancakes, my kids love pancakes, who doesn’t love pancakes? The thing is, quite often, my kids decide that they want pancakes at 6am. I don’t feel like cooking until 10, and they aren’t prepared to wait that long. So to save them from the drudgery that is cold cereal, I cook them ahead.

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Then I throw them into a freezer bag (seriously, my best friend!), and when they want pancakes at 6am, I drag my haven’t-even-had-my-coffee-yet self to the freezer and pop them in the toaster. Throw some bananas on top and voila! And yes, those ones toward the bottom are a bit dark. That’s how my oldest likes her pancakes. Yuck.

Next, carrots. I call my son to the kitchen, he loves getting in on the carrot peeling action!

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We set to work, peeling 5lb of carrots (I still have another 5lbs in my fridge to use fresh). Then Mommy chops, some into small pieces to freeze and some into wedges that go back into the fridge for carrot sticks. I use the frozen pieces when I make soup, stew, or casserole. Many people blanche them before freezing but I’ve never had any issues so I don’t bother. I’ve never tried using them as a side dish after freezing them though, as some people claim it changes the taste.

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Tip: Freeze the bags flat, it’s so much easier to organize them this way!

Shameless mention, this is my favourite knife. Ever. It’s Paderno, and it even has a cover. How cool is that?

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And while Rylan and I are hard at work, I have a little birdie sticking her hand into the dish of carrot sticks. It’s a good thing she’s cute!

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Next up, onions! I love doing onions all at once, because while we love onions, I hate the tears! I do them the exact same way, chop and bag. It’s so easy to just grab a handful and throw them in!

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Lastly, cucumbers. There is still one in my fridge that hasn’t been touched yet. Give it a couple of days and all 3 will be gone! I chopped one into slices for snacks, and cucumber sandwiches (yum!). The other I cut smaller for salads.

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Tomorrow I’ll tackle the apples. I had planned to get that done today, but forgetful me forgot to get the lemon I needed juice from to make my apple sauce! This really was a light prepping day, normally I would have celery, lettuce, and who knows what else to get ready. But we already had those things, and they weren’t on sale!

Not only does this save money by allowing us to buy in bulk, it’s convenient! Convenience foods without all the junk that’s found in convenience food!

Back When..

When looking through some old pictures this weekend, I came across a few of my favourites. Back when I only had two of my beautiful babies, and I was very pregnant with my third, we took a day trip to a park in the next town- and it turned into an impromptu photo shoot!

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Oh my, he was so tiny!
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And these ones basic sum up the relationship between the oldest two, although they have moments when they’re fighting that would make you believe otherwise, they’re really the best of friends.

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My Little Superstar

This winter has been a big one for my little man! He is turning 5 this winter, and so (after much waiting, and two years of hearing “am I big enough yet?!”) he was old enough to play hockey! After many evenings and early weekend mornings spent in a freezing cold rink, we attended his first tournament! They played two games, which made for a very tired little guy on the hour’s drive home, but also a very proud one! After the tournament each player was awarded a medal, and it couldn’t have made my buddy any happier!

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In this shot, he let his personality shine even more..

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This kid is seriously the sweetest little boy I know. He can put a smile on any face and he is one of those people who truly lights up any room just by being in it. He is so kind-hearted and polite, and although I hate that he is growing up so fast, I can’t wait to see the young man that he grows into.

Review- Large Family Logistics

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A few months ago it seemed like this book, written by Kim Brenneman (mother of 9), was everywhere! I was hearing about it, reading blogs about it, and seeing it everywhere I turned. Well, I love a good book, and I love organization, so I ordered it. When it arrived I was shocked at how large this book was! I think in my mind I was expecting novel size, when this book is more like a text book!

It’s like a text book in other ways too, it’s a huge encyclopaedia of knowledge about cleaning, raising children, homemaking, etc. It’s written for large families but it doesn’t matter if you have one child or a dozen, you will be blessed by the wealth of knowledge that this book holds between it’s covers!

When I first sat down with the book I had only it and a cup of coffee in hand, a few pages in though I found myself running to the desk for post-it notes, highlighters, and a notebook. Now my book is dog-eared and even more useful than it was when I bought it!

Kim Brenneman gives useful, practical advice and tips as well as deeper insight. She writes in that understanding way of someone who has been there, and lived to see the other side.

One of the (many) great features of this book is the “Moving Beyond Survival Mode” Appendix in the back, which outlines a twelve step guide to getting life under control!

I loved this book, and have re-read it entirely twice, and referenced it many more times than I could count!

This book is available at Christianbooks

And you can visit her blog here Large Family Logistics