{Toddler} Busy Bag Exchange II

Here we go again!  I'm glad this was such a hit, let's have another go at it! ;)

This is a post for my local friends who are joining in the TODDLER busy bag exchange (the PreK one is in another post) OR for those of you who want idea on how to host your own.  Or just ideas for how to keep your toddler busy. :)

Guidelines for the exchange

1. I sent out an email for each of you to sign up.
2.  Select your bag of choice by emailing me.  I will update the blog when bags are taken.
3. Signups are open until 2/17.  After it closes, I will email with how many bags we each will be making.  You will then have 2 weeks to make your bags and we will meet up (date and place to be decided) to exchange.
4.  You will make X number of identical bags (such as: 10 button snake bags), 1 for every participant.  
5. The bags should cost between $1-2 per bag.  Please price out your ideas and shop with coupons if needed. 
6. Please put together a quality bag; the kind you would like to receive in return.  Remember, these have to hold up to toddler use! ;)
7. Put each of your finished activities into a gallon size bag (if possible).
8. Include anything we might need to complete the activity including instructions and game options.
9. There is no need to laminate anything (unless you really want to do it.)  We each have the option of laminating the activities we need for our own use. 

Here is a link to my pinterest toddler busy bag board.  You can see pictures of all the bag ideas.  They link you directly to the site with information on putting them together.  You are also welcome to contact me and I'm happy to help give you ideas of how to put them together or where to get the supplies. (I will try to get links added to the list below...)
I've tried to include a large variety.  If there is an idea you'd like to try instead, holler at me and I will get it listed.   

Here is a list.  If there is a name behind the game, its already been taken.

{Local Exchange in Closed}

Biggie Beads in a Bottle {Angela}

Pom Pom Sorting with Tongs {Kelly}
Pool Noodle Stringing

{PreK} Busy Bag Exchange II

The first Busy Bag exchange was such a hit, we're going for round 2!

This is a post for my local friends who are joining in the PRE-K busy bag exchange (the Toddler one is in another post) OR for those of you who want idea on how to host your own.  Or just ideas for how to keep your PreKer busy. :)

Guidelines for the exchange
1. I sent out an email for each of you to sign up.
2.  Select your bag of choice by emailing me.  I will update the blog when bags are taken.
3. Signups are open until 4/9.  After it closes, I will email with how many bags we each will be making.  You will then have 2 weeks to make your bags and we will meet up (date and place to be decided) to exchange.
4.  You will make X number of identical bag (such as 10 spinny spellers), 1 for each participant. 
5. The bags should cost between $1-2 per bag.  Please price out your ideas and shop with coupons if needed. 
6. Please put together a quality bag; the kind you would like to receive in return.  Remember, these have to hold up to kiddos! :)
7. Put each of your finished activities into a gallon size bag (if possible).
8. Include anything we might need to complete the activity including instructions and game options.
9. There is no need to laminate anything (unless you really want to do it.)  We each have the option of laminating the activities we need for our own use. 

Here is a link to my pinterest PreK busy bag board.  You can see pictures of all the bag ideas.  They link you directly to the site with information on putting them together.  You are also welcome to contact me and I'm happy to help give you ideas of how to put them together or where to get the supplies. (I will try to get links added to the list below...)
I've tried to include a large variety.  If there is an idea you'd like to try instead, holler at me and I will get it listed.  

Here is a list.  If there is a name behind the game, its already been taken.


{Local Exchange is Closed}

A-Z Clothespin Wheels
Alphabet Match Up {Deborah}
Counting Mats
I Spy Bottles {Michal}
Letters/Color Matching {Lanae}
Pom Pom Numbers {Kelsey}
Pool Noodle Lacing
 Rubbing Plates {Kelly}
Word Families {Angela}
Write and Wipe {Angela}

Mod Podge Letters


The original one I did a few years ago and posted about on my monogram wall.  I cannot find the picture on my computer, so this is as good as its gets.  Can you see it?  Or the bottom part of it?  Up at the very top? ;)  Sorry!
The "B" and "H" were Christmas gifts for my mom and sis.  Christmas 2011, not 2012.  This is why its Finish It Challenge #4 and #5. :)  Yep....I'm behind. Although these were finished a month or so ago, I just haven't had time to blog them. 
I thought I had done a tutorial on them....so if I didn't, I will....soon. ;)

Join me with SimpleMom.net and Project Simplify

I am jumping on the bandwagon with SimpleMom.net and her Project Simplify!

This weeks hot spot is kids stuff...
I don't know about you, but we have a lot of that!  I am so excited about this one!  I'm actually involving my kiddos in this.  We are planning to tackle a new area every day this week.

Here's my plan:
Monday - Dresser tops and their "junk drawer."  Each of my kids has a small drawer in which they can keep their stuff.  We are clearing it out, because they are overflowing!  The dresser tops too!  I figure we are going to start small.
Tuesday - Keeping with the dresser theme....clothes!  Clean, sort and purge!
Wednesday - Clothing again, this time closets.
Thursday - Toys, toys, toys!
Friday - Toys, toys, toys! (We have a lot of toys)
Saturday - Donations.  They are coming with me to drop the stuff off!

I hope you will all join me in "Project Simplify!"

Pocket Die Cut Card

This is a project I started (gulp) two years ago.  The reason I know its been two years, is that they were supposed to be for one my girls' birthday invitations.....and her birthday is coming up...again.

I bought this fun pocket die cut (in retrospect I would not have purchased it, instead I would just sew up the sides) using the excuse of the invitations.  I make enough invites for baby showers, birthday's, etc, that I do use the dies.
 
This time instead of using them for invites, I'm using them for cards!
I added an eyelet from my collection of embellishments, ribbon from my scrap ribbon container, and a butterfly punch sewn on the inside to tie it into the paper.

{PreK} Busy Bag Exchange

This is a post for my local friends who are joining in the PRE-K busy bag exchange (the Toddler one is in another post) OR for those of you who want idea on how to host your own.  Or just ideas for how to keep your PreKer busy. :)


I spent the better part of Sunday afternoon scouring the internet and pinterest gathering idea for our kiddos.

Guidelines for the exchange

1. I sent out an email for each of you to sign up.
2.  Select your bag of choice by emailing me.  I will update the blog when bags are taken.
3. Signups are open until 2/17.  After it closes, I will email with how many bags we each will be making.  You will then have 2 weeks to make your bags and we will meet up (date and place to be decided) to exchange.
4.  You will make X number of identical bag (such as 10 spinny spellers), 1 for each participant. 
5. The bags should cost between $1-2 per bag.  Please price out your ideas and shop with coupons if needed. 
6. Please put together a quality bag; the kind you would like to receive in return.  Remember, these have to hold up to kiddos! :)
7. Put each of your finished activities into a gallon size bag (if possible).
8. Include anything we might need to complete the activity including instructions and game options.
9. There is no need to laminate anything (unless you really want to do it.)  We each have the option of laminating the activities we need for our own use. 

Here is a link to my pinterest PreK busy bag board.  You can see pictures of all the bag ideas.  They link you directly to the site with information on putting them together.  You are also welcome to contact me and I'm happy to help give you ideas of how to put them together or where to get the supplies. (I will try to get links added to the list below...)
I've tried to include a large variety.  If there is an idea you'd like to try instead, holler at me and I will get it listed.  

Here is a list.  If there is a name behind the game, its already been taken.

{LOCAL EXCHANGE IS CLOSED}


Clothesline {MICHAL}
Counting Cards
Counting Mats
Felt Cupcakes {CLAIR}
Felt Fishing Game
Felt Snowflake Patterns
Foam Shape Matching
Golf Tees and Marbles
Hot Glue Rubbing Plates
I Spy Bottles
Numbers Wheel {KELLY}
Pattern Grids 
Popsicle Color Match {JAMIE}
Spinny Speller {MELANIE}
Write and Wipe {MELISSA}

{Toddler} Busy Bag Exchange

This is a post for my local friends who are joining in the TODDLER busy bag exchange (the PreK one is in another post) OR for those of you who want idea on how to host your own.  Or just ideas for how to keep your toddler busy. :)


I spent the better part of Sunday afternoon scouring the internet and pinterest gathering idea for our kiddos.

Guidelines for the exchange

1. I sent out an email for each of you to sign up.
2.  Select your bag of choice by emailing me.  I will update the blog when bags are taken.
3. Signups are open until 2/17.  After it closes, I will email with how many bags we each will be making.  You will then have 2 weeks to make your bags and we will meet up (date and place to be decided) to exchange.
4.  You will make X number of identical bags (such as: 10 button snake bags), 1 for every participant.  
5. The bags should cost between $1-2 per bag.  Please price out your ideas and shop with coupons if needed. 
6. Please put together a quality bag; the kind you would like to receive in return.  Remember, these have to hold up to toddler use! ;)
7. Put each of your finished activities into a gallon size bag (if possible).
8. Include anything we might need to complete the activity including instructions and game options.
9. There is no need to laminate anything (unless you really want to do it.)  We each have the option of laminating the activities we need for our own use. 

Here is a link to my pinterest toddler busy bag board.  You can see pictures of all the bag ideas.  They link you directly to the site with information on putting them together.  You are also welcome to contact me and I'm happy to help give you ideas of how to put them together or where to get the supplies. (I will try to get links added to the list below...)
I've tried to include a large variety.  If there is an idea you'd like to try instead, holler at me and I will get it listed.   

Here is a list.  If there is a name behind the game, its already been taken.

{LOCAL EXCHANGE IS CLOSED}


Animal Matching {MELANIE}
Biggie Bead and Boards {DEBORAH)
Button Matching {MEGAN}
Button Snake {LIZ}
Clothespin Matching {KELLY}
Color Matching Clips
Color Matching Wheel {MELISSA S.}
Colored Pasta Sort {CLAIR}
Magnetic Pom Poms
Foam Bead Sorting Tray
Foam Shape Puzzles
Pipe Cleaner Matching Sorter
Race Car Shapes
Shades of Color
Sorting Bag
Velcro Matching Rods

Organization {Part 5: Daily To Do List}

As I'm sure you've figure out by now, I'm a list maker.  I enjoy the satisfaction crossing off things so that I have something to show for what I've done all day.  

Here is a link to my daily "to do" list.  I print it off on the back of scratch paper. Then cut the paper down the middle so that its 4 1/4" x 11".  It has a section for Call, To Do and Errands.  I usually have one of these per day.  Sometimes I'll start a bunch for the week, so that I can spread what needs to be done throughout the week.  When something comes up, I add it where it needs to be during the week.

Hope this helps at least one of you! ;)  

"Hi" card

Super easy card.  All you need are scraps and a card blank!  The white was punched with an edge punch, then I layered pink, then the striped paper.  Tied a ribbon on.  I almost left it there, but it needed something else.  I'm not a sticker gal.  I print or stamp.  But....I have lots of sticker (not sure why since I don't use them) and need to us them up.  Then it looked to bare, so I added the jewels.
 This card was started 2 years ago, then dumped in a drawer during a sweep of my office. (Sad, I know!)  Its all finished now and ready to send!

Some Homeschooling Books and Reading Eggs

I brought up that whole "we are homeschooling now" thing and I haven't said boo since.  Well, its going GREAT!!!!  I really wish I had started with #2 in kindergarten instead of pulling her out halfway through 1st grade.  #3 is staying in his 2-day-a-week preschool through the end of the year, but then he's coming home too. 

Last summer we did an Alphabet Summer and after reading a bit about the Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, I bought it for #2 and #3 and we dabbled in the book.  At the time I had no idea that the author was one of the writers that was going to help shape my homeschool curriculum through The Well-Trained Mind.  (I'm still finding what type of homeschooler I fall under, but at this point am more in the Classical/Traditional than Unit/Unschooling.)  

One of my friends introduced me to Reading Eggs a few weeks ago and we signed up.  This site is great!  Its a wonderful supplement for teaching reading through games.   She calls it "crack for kids."  (Please don't call DHS because I used "crack" and "kids" in the same sentence.)  Its true though.  My kids fight over whose turn it is.  I finally have had to set timers.  I put a "Reading Eggs" card in the girls workboxes almost every day.  They are 8 1/2 and almost 7, and are already reading, but in addition the the teaching reading, there is reading comprehension and spelling.  

Go check it out here.  You get a free 2 week trial.  Here's the best part though....the same friend send this link to a forum that has promo codes for up to 4 years.  FOUR YEARS FREE!!!! {***Edited: most of the codes have expired already.}  It might sound silly, but I just signed the baby up with an account.  She turns 2 next week, but heck....by the time I start working on letters with her we will still have plenty of time left. :)

This is a service for which I would gladly pay.  (I think its $75 a year, but you can also find it as low as $15 through homeschooling coops.)  I am also practical, so why pay for something when you can (legally) get it for free!?!?

The boy (4 1/2) is loving this.  Over the past few weeks have been going through OPG and Reading Eggs and he's already reading BOB Books.  Its amazing to see and hear this!!!

If you have younger ones or some that need a little extra help, check it out!!!

Organization {Part 4: Cleaning and Meal Schedules}

Preface: Cleaning, laundry and meals.  The bulk of running a house.  I've included some of the spreadsheets I use to help make this a bit easier.  I'm working on getting downloadable documents, but until then, if you'd like them email me at bugaboogifts{at}gmail{dot}com


CLEANING SCHEDULE 


In addition to my weekly maintenance routine, I have a deep cleaning routine.
My jumping off point is the flylady.com.  Check her out sometime....but read the whole post first! ;) She starts off the with the basics (get dressed to your shoes and shine your sink everyday.)  There are some days I don't leave my house and I'm homeschooling kids, so I'm ok staying in my jammies some most mornings.  Also, I tell the kids "no shoes in the house" so I kinda have to abide by that rule too...

She breaks a house up into zones and I did that.  I have broken mine up into 6 (manageable) zones and have tailored the schedule to what we need and what works for us.  Take a look at your house and everything you want to/can do.  You might have 4 zones, which means you'll get through your house 3 times a year.  This does not mean you can give up on your daily/weekly cleaning and just hit the zones as prescribed.  This just means that your baseboards and blinds will be cleaned more than once a year. :)

Here's my Jan and July zone.  
As I go through this, I'm constantly adding or changing things.

Getting help from the kids....something I don't do enough of.  I'm working on this, though.
(Tomorrow I'll include links and pictures of chore charts around blogland and pinterest.  This is an area that is highly deficient in our home and one in which I intend to fix soon!

LAUNDRY
I start a load first thing in the morning.  I mean....I get up, get my workout clothes on throw a load in before I head out the door at 5:45. By the time I get back, it goes into the dryer.  Another load will go in mid morning.  Throughout the day I fold and put it all away.  If its mostly the kids clothes, they will come help fold (not usually willingly) but they always put away their own clothes.  Even the 4 year old boy! 

Its much easier to do a load or two every day than spend an entire day doing all the laundry.  Honestly, It takes about 5 minutes to fold a load of laundry.  That's it.  Dont' believe me?  Time yourself.  Granted, if you are doing a lot of little baby clothes, it might take a little longer.

Just cuz I like pictures in posts....this is what I did to my laundry room so it was a little more pleasant to be in.
Another little laundry trick with stains....I put a safety pin through the tag of an item that has a stain on it.  The hubs and I use to go round and round because he would say in passing, "This (fill in the blank) has something on it," but would never show me what and where.  He'd throw it in the dirty clothes, I'd wash and put it away.  He'd then get up and iron it to wear... 

{Side note.....yes, my hubs irons his own clothes.  I'm not ashamed.  I'm busy.  He's particular.  Its something we settled into very early in our marriage and it works.  Come to find out that a lot of hubs iron their own clothes!  We've been married 11 1/2 year so, luckily its not a deal breaker!} 

During his ironing, he'd find the stain and mention it again.  Finally I gave him safety pins and a bottle of spray and wash.  He was instructed to spray and pin.  When something comes through that's pinned, I look it over too find the stain and see if its has been removed, if not, it goes in a separate pile that I'll deal with later.

COOKING
This the the area of your budget that you have the most control over.  Well, this and leisure/entertainment....but eating is a must.  I have found that in the past, we have spent way too much money eating out.  My goal this year is to cut that in half!  Its so easy to let someone else do the cooking and cleaning, but really, does it take less time?  By the time we get all four kids in the car with jackets and shoes, drive to the restaurant, get seated, order our food, maintain a little control over said children, eat, and get back home, does it really save that much time?  Plus its a whole lot less expensive to stay home and no one finds out that your kids aren't always perfectly behaved! :)

Every Sunday I sit down and meal plan.  I have a 2 week plan.  On the off Sunday, I adjust my plan, if needed, and review the grocery list.  When you start to plan, keep in mind any produce/perishable items you already have on hand and plan around those first.

I write down the main course, the side, and the veggie.  For the main dish I include what book the recipe is in and the page number, or I put a hyperlink if its a recipe from the www.  I do this on my computer, then print it out and for my binder.  I also write it on our chalkboard.  This way my family always knows what is for dinner.
The next step is my grocery list.  I made up a list on the computer of the things we most frequently consume.  I set the list up in the order that I usually go around the grocery store.  Each week, I review my meal plan, and get my grocery list together.  I shop my own freezer, fridge and pantry first so that I'm not buying duplicates of items.  I keep my weekly list in the front pocket of my household binder so that when we run out of things during the week, I simply add it to the list.

I print it out on a scrap piece of letter size paper.  Its formatted so that I can fold it in half width-wise, which to me seems easier to carry??? :)

I try to make at least one extra freezer meal a week.  I do this by simply doubling the recipe. Its just as easy to make two meals as one, right?  Make sure you label and date it.  After its made, I add it to my freezer meal inventory.  Freezer meals are great to have on hand for those busy days.  Plus, if someone is ever in need of a meal (all my friends are in the baby-having stage right now) I have some prepared!

Batch cooking is something I've done occasionally, making 4-6 meals in one sitting.  Also, I was part of a cooking club for about 2 years. We did ours on Mondays.  I cooked and delivered one Monday for 4 families, then the next three Mondays dinner was delivered to me.

Any leftovers get packaged after dinner into lunch size containers.  I send those with the hubs over the next few days or freeze for later.

SUNDAY PLANNING DAY
This is supposed to be a day of rest, but I actually enjoy planning so does fun count as work? ;)

I pay bills on Sunday's...or at least check in on our finances every week.

Meal planning happens over the weekend too.  I usually sit in the living room with my computer and a couple cookbooks.  I find a lot online, but am trying to get through the files of recipes that I've stashed away over the week.  My goal is to try a new recipe every week.  If it works and we like it, it stays.  If we really liked it, it goes in my favorite recipes folder.

I also plan my homeschooling week on Sundays.  I created my own weekly calendar, so fill it in each Sunday so I'm ready for the week.  I'm still tweaking this as we are only 7 weeks in on our homeschooling adventure

I also look at the week ahead and see what's going on.  

Phew!  Next.... :)

Organizing {Part 3: Household Binder}

This is my household binder.  It's great having everything in one place.  It contains...

Food section 
Bi-weekly meal plan
Extra copies of my grocery lists
Freezer meal inventory

Cleaning 
Schedules for daily, monthly, quarterly and annually
Zone cleaning (6 zones)

Kids
School information (use to be all school, but now just the boy's preschool)
Extracurricular information

Emergency contact information
The kids and I are putting this together for a school project but its also helpful on the rare occasion that we have a babysitter.

Household Repairs 
Who to call for what

My calendar is kept on my computer, otherwise that would be in there too.
My to do list is tucked in the front pocket as that is updated daily.

Want to make your own?  This is what you'll need:
Clear view binder
Scrapbook paper 
(the paper for all my binders goes nicely together...not that they are ever in the same place at the same time :)
Adhesive
Sheet protectors
Printables
(I make my own, but will post links at the bottom of the post of where you can get some pretty ones)

This is what to do:
Measure and cut out scrapbook paper to fit in front, back and spine of your notebook.

In Pages (or use Word or Publisher) I created the front and side labels, in addition to the divider labels.  I printed this on card stock, the cut out.  I matted the front, adhered it to my precut scrapbook paper and slid them in place.
 I die cut the mats for the divider pages.  I used card stock inside a page protector as my divider.  I haven't made tabs (yet), but that's because the page protector goes to the edge of the binder and the tabs would stick out the side.  If you want tabs, a way around this is to punch a hole in the top of the dividing page and put a ribbon tie through it.
 I keep most of my pages in sheet protectors.  The 2 week meal plan (more in my next post) I just slide in and out when the two weeks is up.
Here's an example of my "Zone Cleaning" page.  The sheet protectors work well with a dry erase marker.  I just check off as I go, and wipe off at the end of the month when I move to the next zone.
 I make my own inserts on the computer.  They aren't pretty and colorful, but they work.  Here is a link, that a friend found, to free basic printables but if you want really pretty ones check these out and the rest of her blog!

I'm happy to email mine out (if anyone wants) until I'm able to figure out how to post a downloadable version on here.  Email be at bugaboogifts{at}gmail{dot}com.

Here's a sneak peak at another upcoming post using the same concept....

The binder was in place, but I finished it by making it "pretty" and I finally printed out all the schedules instead of keeping them on my computer.

Organization {Part 2: Calendars}

Calendars are a wonderful thing!
I write everything down.  Ev. ry. thing.  My schedules, my calendar (they are different), phone numbers addresses, birthdays, to do lists....you get the point. In my world if I don't write it down, its not going to happen.  I have too much going on to remember everything! ;)  (4 kids will do that to a girl.)

I have an ongoing electronic calendar, but I also have a:
Daily schedule
Weekly schedule
Monthly/quarterly schedule
Yearly schedule
Cleaning schedule (more to come...)
Meal schedule (more to come...)
and
Birthday calendar (which is part of my main calendar, but you'll see why I separate this at the end.)

I did warn you that I'm a bit Type A, right???  Stay with me here...

I update my calendar daily and carry it with me.  Nothing like going to the Doctor/hair dresser/school/where ever you go and not being able to schedule something because you can't see what you have going on.  Worse...double booking!  Not good.

These are the things I do on a DAILY basis and why.
...
Throw in a load of laundry.
Workout - need I explain?  This is really 3-4 days a week.
Bible Study - a great way to start the day, plus I lead a bible study
Make my bed (and kids, too) - my house feels more put together when that's done
Commit to dinner in the morning.  This could be lay food out to thaw or begin some of the prep.  If you don't commit, your less likely to follow through with your plans.  Its too easy too forget, then have to scramble at the last minute and end up making less healthy choices for mealtime.
Clean up after every meal - Its much easier to do it right then, instead of letting it pile up.  Also, spills are easier to clean when they are still wet vs. letting them dry and get really stuck on.
Run a load of dishes (so they can dry overnight) - I don't use the heated dry cycle on my dishwasher.  I have way too much plastic in there and that cycle doesn't dry it anyway.  I run the load in the evening, open the door and let it dry overnight.  Saves money and I don't have to hand dry all the little people's plastic dish ware.
Check tomorrow's schedule (mine and kids) before I go to bed.  This way, I never wake up in the morning and get sideswiped with something.  Also, everything needed for whatever is going on tomorrow will be laid out i.e. library books, permission slips (when kids were in school), etc.
Before bed, make sure the kitchen is clean - nothing like waking up and starting your day with a messy kitchen, right?  You have a crazy enough day as it is to start off with that!

This is a summary of my basic WEEKLY cleaning schedule
Mon - Dust and Vacuum
Tues - Floors (wood and tile)
Wed - Bathrooms
Thrs - Kitchen, sheets and towels
Fri - Complete some zone cleaning
Sat - House projects and catch up (if needed)
Sun - Planning (meals, bills, homeschooling)


My MONTHLY/QUARTERLY/ANNUALLY things
Touch up painting (much easier to do every few months than once a year...especially if you have kids!)
Changing the batteries in the smoke detectors
Cleaning the phones and doorknobs (especially during cold/flu season)
Changing the filters
HVAC tune
Dryer vent vacuuming
and the seasonal clothes swap out

The last thing on my calendar list is my BIRTHDAY calendar
I'm a fan of sending out REAL birthday cards.  I might FB someone (if and when I'm ever on....which is rare!).  I love to make cards so I make and send my own cards.  Isn't it nice to get a real piece of mail, especially when its from someone that has remember your special day! I keep birthdays in my calendars.  I check next month's Birthday's and Anniversary's the last week of the current month.  I make or pull cards for each person and pre address them.  I pre-address them and put a date up in the corner (so I know when to mail them) where the stamp will cover it, then stack them all up in order of needing to be sent and then write and send when the time comes.

Write is all down!  It might seem silly to write something down that you do everyday, but it helps.  I keep this all on my computer and in my household binder.  I'll show you that tomorrow, then my cleaning and meal schedules after.  (Yes there will be pictures and documents!  Enough of these wordy posts with no pretty pictures, right?)



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