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And Now He is Eight

I remember eight being really monumental in my life. I think because I was old enough to audition for the local children's theatre group. Anyway. Today Brother-Bug turns eight. Here are some of my favorite pictures of him in the last year….

IMG_0480 IMG_0519 IMG_0555 IMG_1998 IMG_2318 IMG_2505 IMG_2908 IMG_3338 IMG_3475 P1090048 P1090176

He's grown so much and come so far this year. He's thoughtful and funny, witty and disgusting (ah, the humor of childhood). He's obsessed with weird things that make him chuckle at odd times. He's an incredibly thoughtful and nurturing big brother. He's learning…so much. Words fail me here. He's amazing.



Eight looks like it is going to be an awesome adventure with this guy. I couldn't be a happier, or more proud, Mama.



Today we made catapults, using the instructions I found at Irresistable Ideas for Play Based Learning. It took about 10 minutes total to make these. I'm writing this an hour later and they are still deeply involved with their catapults projects.

I pre-glued the bottle caps with heavy-duty glue. All they had to do was hot glue the clothespin and the craft stick. Brother-Bug was able to do his own. I did Toddler-Bug's and helped Sister-Bug with hers. Them we got out the pom-poms.

Even the toddler figured out how to do his own catapult and had So Much Fun being like the big kids.

Sister-Bug played with marking where each pom-pom fell with a piece of masking tape. Brother-Bug worked on getting his pom-poms in a bin – which was way harder than he initially imagined it would be.

He also figured out that the action of the catapult and pom-pom was like Angry Birds. Once he figured that out, it became even more fun.

So right there we have math, science, and motor skills for all ages. And they're still having fun.


Coming Up for 2014-2015

What are we doing for the new school year? Are we using curriculum? What is the plan? Some people have been asking me these questions, so here is what our family is doing to create some structure in our crazy learning chaos.

*I’m keeping in mind that my best laid plans may be completely scrapped if we discover something more alluring. Perhaps we set out to study…worms but instead we get really interested in why grass grows and we leave our worm project in the dirt. I don’t know. I made that up. One of the things we love about homeschooling is grabbing those interests and opportunities, and the flexibility to follow our own interests.

1) I signed up for a monthly subscription to Little Passports. We haven’t gotten our first country yet, but I am really excited. My hope is that it will give some external structure that I can lean on, and also add to. Already I have several related projects in place for each country – make a meal, make peg dolls in the traditional clothes of that country, etcetera.

2) We are going to be using the online Muzzy language program to develop our French skills. I was about to buy a subscription, and then I learned that our library has it available to patrons for free! Score!

3) Brother-Bug is going to work hard on his hand writing. I’ve been using this worksheet maker, but he is doing better this year copying from me. He dictates what he wants to write, I write it out clearly, and he copies that down. Just the mechanics of writing are a huge challenge for him, so I’m not too worried about the spelling or grammar yet. We will get to those later in the year once he writes more fluidly. I got great writing prompts from Dianna Kennedy that will help provide some inspiration as well! Sister-Bug is also learning basic writing – at her own insistence. I made her a wipe-off writing book to save paper in these early writing days. A post with how to do that is coming soon.

4) Math is fun! We will incorporate math games into our days, and we always do “Bedtime Math” over our lunch. I keep the app on my phone and we do the problems while we eat. I love that app. We will also be using Everyday Math and some Kahn Academy to fill it out. Right now Brother-Bug is working on creating his own number stories (math and writing all-in-one!). Sister-Bug will do some official math work, but most of her math is still play. So we will play with measuring, play with stacking, play with rocks and beans and ???

5) Sister-Bug is determined to learn how to read. She wants it. She’s sick of having to ask us to read to her. We will be playing with Starfall, and lots of reading time with easy readers from the library. Brother-Bug is going to be learning about reading and reporting. We just discovered the website Bookopolis – a social site for elementary level readers. He’s excited about that and I am hopeful it makes report writing a little more fun for him.

5) Ballet is back for both kids, and Sister-Bug is starting Girl Scouts! Brother-Bug might get involved in a chess club or something similar. He’s not sure. He needs less social activities than Sister-Bug, so I know he will figure out what is right for him. Undoubtably there will be something with our homeschool friends as well, but we have yet to see how that manifests and what form it takes.

6) Toddler-Bug…well…he’s getting into EVERYTHING. He’s the big challenge this year – how to keep up with him, help the big kids, get one-on-one time with each learner, and wash the crayon/marker/yogurt/glue off all the surfaces. I’ve been collecting ideas for entertaining toddlers, and I really need to up my arsenal. Hopefully I will be sharing some of those ideas with you in a later post.


Other goals I have involve more hiking, and exploring some of the amazing museums and other attractions the Willamette Valley has to offer. And there will be plenty of going with the flow, game days, pajama days, fun field trips, and goodness knows what else. It’s a new school year. We are jumping in with both feet.



Re-Useable Snackbags – Tutorial and Giveaway!

I’m back! And I have been oh-so-busy with ever so many different things. And before we launch into all of that, let’s have a tutorial and a give away, shall we? 

 One of the project I recently finished was a set of re-useable snack bags. I get really frustrated with the amount of trash generated by my family. One of the components is ziploc baggies (also I have to remember to buy them at the store….and I never do…and then I don’t have snack baggies…). I looked around at lots of tutorials and came up with my own process. Here we go. 

These are super easy if you have a serger. If you don’t you can still do it, but it’s going to involve zig-zagging and turning and stuff. 

I made mine all different with scraps. What I did buy was rip-stop nylon to line the inside. This gives them a little water resistance (they aren’t at all waterproof, so don’t use them for soup or yogurt). Let’s make a guess. Get about a yard of nylon and a yard of cotton. I think. 

Okay. Let’s get going.

For each bag….

Out of both the cotton and the nylon, cut rectangles the width you want your bag, plus seam (let’s say 6 1/2″), and twice as long as you want your bag to be plus 2 inches (let’s say 8+8+2=18″). I eyeballed this on most of my bags, and I made a variety of sizes, so these measurements are just ideas. 

Serge the two rectangles together on one of the short sides of the rectangle – wrong sides together!
That serged edge is the front opening of your baggie. Line the fabric up and fold it in half, less those two inches we added. Like so. See how this already looks like a bag?
Starting at the bottom of the baggie, serge up both sides. Make sure you are catching the nylon in the seam. 
I can be a really picky seamstress, so my big challenge here was to just not worry about how exact my seams were and that everything was spot perfect. These aren’t works of art. They are lunch baggies. 
Finally, serge across the last side of your rectangle. This makes the top of your flap. Now you have a basic baggie and all you need is a closure. 

Finish the rest of your serging and make a whole set of these things. You will need a standard sewing machine next. All you need to do is add velcro to the openings. I used a zig-zag on the sticky side of the velcro because that was just easier.

Shazam!! A snack baggie! 

Like I said earlier, I made a whole bunch of these, in many sizes. I’m really looking forward to taking them on a test run when our family goes hiking this weekend. 
Another side benefit was using up some of my larger scraps – especially ones that have some kind of sentimental value. See that blue and white stripe one? That was from a maternity dress I made for myself more than 8 years ago, pregnant with my first baby. And now it’s a snack bag. Stuff like that makes me happy. 
But wait! There is more. I mentioned a giveaway, did I not? 
I made a lot of these. More than my family really needs. And I know that we are all out there doing our back-to-(home)school preparations. Many of those preparations will involve making lunches for people. 

 So I have a set of 4 snack baggies for one lucky winner! 

I’m doing this giveaway on my Facebook Page. It’s really easy. Click over to my page, like my page (if you don’t already), and leave a comment on the giveaway post telling me what you would like to use these bags for – hiking and trail mix, sack lunches and sandwiches…extra peanuts for a ball game? 

I’ll pick a random winner from the comments next Friday (August 15th). 

That’s it! Fun and easy, right? 

I’ll Be Back

It's that time of year. Between the festivals we work at, family in town, and enjoying lots of outdoor time, I'm just not near my devices.

My family is packing up the camping stuff this week – including our wings, faery horns, Luke Skywalker costume… We are headed out to The Oregon Country Fair. We've been out there already for a couple of weekends already, working on set up and having a wonderful time.

So I will return to the Internet in a couple of weeks. I'll be dusty and covered in glitter and bug spray. And I will be supremely happy.

Baby-Bug loves the big water truck.

Button Down Dress

I love turning old clothing into new clothing and one of my all-time favorites is turing an old adult button-down shirt into an a-line sundress for a preschool-sized person. It takes less than an hour from start to finish and…just cute galore.

All you need is a button down shirt (the larger the size the more you have to work with) and about a yard of single fold bias tape. We used one of Papa-Bug’s old shirts that didn’t make the cut in a recent purging of the closet.

You also will need a dress to use as a size guideline. An a-line dress will work the best, but as long as you can get a general idea of width and length, any dress will work.

Iron and lay the shirt out flat. Place the dress on top, everything face up. Cut around one half of the dress – just the armhole, side and back.

Take the pattern dress away and carefully fold the shirt in half. Use the cut half as your pattern on the other side to keep your sides as symetrical as poissible. Cut around the second armhole and side and across the bottom.

Using scraps from the sides or sleeves of the shirt, cut two strips approximately 3″ wide and 15″ long. That’s all the cutting…and the trickiest part of this dress. You’re halfway done.

Fold and sew the two strips in half, clip the corners, turn, and press. These are going to be the back ties at the waist.

If your dress model is available, pop the cut dress on them to mark placement for the ties.

If your model isn’t around, the ties will get pinned on between 2″-4″ below the armhole. Use your eyes and guage it. This might be another good time to look at your guidline dress and think about where the child’s waist will be. Pin the ties to each side

Sew down the side seams, matching front to back. I always start at the armhole and go down. It’s far easier to adjust a hem that is a little off than it is to adjust an armhole that has gone funky.

It’s almost done. All you have to do is a hem and bias tape around the armholes. I had planned on using the green bias tape in the first picture, but it came up a little short. So I used a different piece I had. It was a little wide and I trimmed it down after sewing it to the armholes…

…but before I pinned the finished edge in place.

If you aren’t familiar with setting bias tape as an armhole, there is a good video you can watch here. Once you’ve got the armholes faced, you are almost done.

I didn’t get a picture of the last step because Sister-Bug was SOOOO excited for her new dress that I just pressed a half inch hem and called it good. And I am sure that you can figure out how to hem this dress. Just make sure that your front hems at the button placket match.

That’s it. One seriously cute sundress, up-cycled, and super hip.


Side note: Making these out of oxford style button downs means your kiddo can wear it with a tie. And it’s a nice “boy-ly” dress for a little boy who likes the comfort of dresses but maybe isn’t too into the frills of lots of sundresses. And no one can say it isn’t boy’s clothes…since you made it out of Dad’s old shirt…
















Radio Silence

Where did I go? No where really. A series of Internet debacles have kept my writing on paper or in my head.

First there was the password change, and now I can’t use the blogging app I usually use on my iPad. Grr.

Then there was the cable internet just…stopping…one day. We called. “It’s a known problem and we are working to fix it…” Days go by. The Internet comes back on in two minute increments — just enough to go see that there are notifications but not long enough to do anything about them. Grrrrrrrr.

We called again. “There is noise on your line…some one will come out…it will cost you…” So we switched to a DSL service provider and that took a bunch of time. GRRRRR.

In the middle of all that mess we had screen-off week. We are wrapping up the school year. I’ve been clearing out my mending and old projects basket. We’ve been outside at parks and in the yard and garden. I’ve been doing some personal writing. It’s been good. But it has left the blog quiet. Far too quiet. My mission for the weekend is to get all my tech issues fixed, or at least understood. And then I can start writing again.

I know you understand.


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