Wednesday, October 31, 2012

31 Days, 31 Smiles {Day 31}: In Conclusion

This month has come to a close and there are still ideas I want to share about having simple fun with your kids without stress!  Perhaps I'll continue to share FUN ideas and tips in the next few months throughout my regular posts because November and December, while full of holiday joy, can also deliver their share of "losing your cool" moments. 

Today, though, I have the pleasure of announcing the SIX winners of my "Having Fun Without Losing Your Cool" Giveaway! 

The winner of the Custom Kids Sewing Card Set donated by Nicoletta Leonardo Design is  Kayla The winner of Ramona the Brave and Biscuit Finds a Friend is    Brooke
The winner of A Busy Bag Bundle donated by Allyson @ All Our Days is    Tee
The winner of the Magnet Puzzle donated by Jess Fabulous Designs is    Donna Jessica
The winner of Set of Sidewalk Chalk donated by Extra Money For Mommy is   Laura!
The winner of the Felt Rainbow Puzzle is    Tiffany


And in case you missed anything this month, here is an index of this month's topics. 
(Click on the light blue words and the post will open in a new window.)

{Day 1}: an Introduction
{Day 2}: Identify the Craziness
{Day 3}: Shapes For Lunch
{Day 4}: How Do You...Aside Time For Fun?
{Day 5}: Having Fun at Bath Time
{Day 6}: Getting the Wiggles Out Before Bed
{Day 7}: Sunday Meditations
{Day 8}: Do Something Unexpected
{Day 9}: Nature Scavenger Hunt (with free PDF file to make your own Nature Treasures bag)
{Day 10}: Having Fun At School Time
{Day 11}: How Do You...Find Time For Your Own Fun?
{Day 12}: Couch Potatoes
{Day 13}: Happy Food
{Day 14}: Sunday Meditations
{Day 15}: a FUN Giveaway (closed)
{Day 16}: Having Fun When Daddy is Away
{Day 17}: Easy and Seasonal Crafts
{Day 18}: How Do You...Do Crafts With Multiple Kids?
{Day 19}: Simple Canvases
{Day 20}: Having Fun While You Work
{Day 21}: Sunday Meditations
{Day 22}: Getting YOU Involved
{Day 23}: Fun And Silly Reading
{Day 24}: Playing With Rice
{Day 25}: How Do You...Find Places For Children's Artwork?
{Day 26}: Rainy Day Fun
{Day 27}: YOUR Fun Photos
{Day 28} Sunday Meditations
{Day 29} Magazines
{Day 30} These Are A Few of My Favorite Comments


Now that my series is over, I may have a few spare moments to read a few others'.  Are there any 31 Days series that you read and recommend? 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Simple Shapes Busy Bag

In addition to finishing up my own 31 Day Series, I'm also linking up to Allyson's final day of her series, Busy Bags and Quiet Time Activities.

This is the first year that I've had a separate bin of learning activities for my younger children.  You see, until this year, they were all my younger children and we learned everything together.  But this year, we're tackling things like cursive writing and long division and astronomy so I figured it wouldn't hurt to have an arsenal of fun activities and diversions for my pre-school set.  I keep a plastic bin (in a pretty color that matches my dining room, of course)  on the top of my hutch and only bring it down when I want to share an activity with my 2- or 4-year-olds. 

A few months ago I printed  these FREE shape flash cards, but I was undecided on what to do with them.  One day when Maddie (8) was showing them to Alaine (2), she suggested I cut corresponding shapes out of cardboard and let Alaine match them up.  Great idea! 

Alaine (and Ben, too) love to say the shape names out loud while they're working.  I love that Ben (4) calls a heart a Valentine and that Alaine tries to pronounce octagon and oval in her baby voice.  I also love that this activity allows me a moment to check an older child's spelling list without distraction. 

31 Days, 31 Smiles {Day 30}: These Are A Few of My Favorite Comments

I loved all the feedback from my readers this month!  Today I'm sharing some of my favorite comments from throughout the month, hoping that you gain encouragement, too! 

On tidying the house together...

Babychaser@ Chasing Babies...Growing in Grace said,  "Something I've tried recently is a race... not the usual kid pit against kid race, but them against me. Sometimes it's 'see if you can get the living room picked up before I have lunch made' or 'dishes done' or whatever. The kids think it is great fun and I don't have to keep reminding them to be helping."

Joanie@Thankful Every Day said, "I used the race method too and also found that picking up 9 things 9 times (since you are 9) was perceived as fun, except for me! Thirty-two, forty-six, and fifty things fifty times just loses its appeal!"

Jenna@ Delighting in Today said, "My living area {and since we have an open floor plan that includes living room, family room, dining room, foyer} was looking very "child-loved" just 15 minutes ago. I wanted it picked up, and I remembered your super-sonic cleaning. I set the timer for 15 minutes and told the boys it was super-sonic and to go as fast as they could. I did the same {but maybe not at their same crazy pace!}. They LOVED it!!!! In probably about 10 minutes all of those areas were picked up! YAY! Something that might normally drag on for quite awhile was done at super-sonic speed, and this is one happy mama and two happy boys. :) Had to pop in an tell you that we LOVED that idea and it worked great for us! Thanks!"

On crazy days...

Joy@Joy in the Morning
said,  "When a day is starting to go truly off the rails before the craziness of the dinner hour-- the benefit of stopping for 'tea time' aka milk & cookies for the kids and something yummy for mommy to drink too!"

Allyson@All Our Days said, "I'm also grabbing the minutes as they're available. I have to remember that if I wait to get absolutely everything done, I'd be waiting until our home is an empty nest."

On planning a surprise...

Jessica@Quirky Bookworm said, "Once, a few weeks ago, we got Eleanor all ready for bed, and then to her surprise, popped her pajama-clad self into the stroller, gave her a flashlight, and went for a stroll around our dark neighborhood. It was only about a 15 minute walk, so it didn't delay bedtime much, but she thought it was the best thing ever."

On bath time...

Hannah@Supermommy!...or Not said, "My kids love it when I blow bubbles for them while they're in the bathtub."


In tomorrow's post,  I'll announce the winners of the "Having Fun Withouth Losing Your Cool" Giveaway, and share my final thoughts. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

31 Days, 31 Smiles {Day 29}: Magazines

Do your kids have a fascination with checking the mailbox?  Mine do, and there is nothing quite so thrilling as seeing their own names on an envelope.  A magazine subscription ensures regular mail for them!  Over the years, we have subscribed to, or been given gift subscriptions, to various quality children's magazines. 


Featuring stories, mazes, look-and-finds, and jokes, these magazine  have something for my children's wide range of tastes.  Brian's grandma subscribed to both magazine for our kids last year so even Alaine (age 2) gets mail with her name on it. 


My kids love the Adventures in Odyssey-themed mysteries and the What's in the Bible? character sightings.  There's more, too, like logic puzzles and reader artwork and recipes.

Focus on the Family Clubhouse (ages 8-12)
Focus on the Family Clubhouse Jr (ages 3-7)


My parents have given this nature magazine to my kids for years, starting when Gavin was a toddler. Actually, I received it when I was a kid, too! The version for younger tots is made of thick cardboard so the pages won't tear and reads like a series of simple stories.  The older version is packed with animal facts, songs, stories, craft ideas, and book suggestions.

Big Backyard-- changing its name to Ranger Rick Jr. in December--
(ages 3-7, though my kids enjoyed it far longer)
Wild Animal Baby (ages 1-3)


And who can pass up free?  Certainly not the LEGO fans in my house!

FREE  LEGO Club Magazine (ages 7-12) 
FREE LEGO Club, Jr. Magazine (ages 1-6)


Speaking of free, today is the last day to sign up for the
"Having Fun Without Losing Your Cool" Giveaway. 
Click the button to enter! 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

31 Days, 31 Smiles {Day 28}: Sunday Meditations

How might it change the day... or the whole week?! ... if we got out of bed with this attitude?
Satisfy us in the morning
with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy
and be glad all our days.

Psalm 90:14

Saturday, October 27, 2012

31 Days, 31 Smiles {Day 27}: YOUR Fun Photos

Today I have the pleasure of  sharing a few of YOUR fun photos and getting to slip a few of mine in at the end. 

Eddie from The Usual Mayhem, having fun outside with her family and their cousins:


Jenny from Living a Listful{l} Life, having fun with one of her sons at playgroup:


My Aunt Pat snapped these photos of her her family (husband, children, grandchildren) having fun at a fall bonfire and hayride:


Babychaser from Chasing Babies...Growing in Grace  shared a photo of her husband and two of her kids having fun in the snow. 

Babychaser is also doing her own 31 day series on Intentional Parenting


My real-life friend, Allyson, from All Our Days says that taking silly pictures with her kids helps chase bad attitudes away. 
Allyson is also doing a 31 day series on Busy Bags and Quiet Time Activities.  


My sister, Kati,  from Kati's Little Corner of the World  and my mom, Cheryl, from Thinking About Home put together a collage of various members of our family having fun.  See if you can spot a few people you recognize (including me!).

Both are doing a 31 day series this month.  Kati's theme is Decadent Desserts and Mom's is Hospitality


Katherine from Proverbs and Pacifiers having fun with her husband and son, while 30 weeks pregnant with her daughter:


And now I have a peek into our past few weeks.  You know, when I've not been typing out a post a day!   Alaine was  thrilled to do a hand-print tree craft and I was thrilled to catch her in a moment of pure excitement!  The other photo was taken on a near-perfect autumn-weather day that we spent at a local fall festival, where we navigated two corn mazes, played pumpkin tic-tac-toe, rode the mini zipline, and had water pump ducky races. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

31 Days, 31 Smiles {Day 26}: Rainy Day Fun

Think an unexpected rainy day (when you had outside plans) is enough to make you lose your cool?  Me, too. 

This kind of day calls for a simple, no-fuss art project.  This one counts as learning, too, so it packs a double punch! 

Teach your kids about the Impressionist style of painting by having them create their own masterpiece.  Use markers to draw a landscape or outdoor scene on a half-sheet of white cardstock or other heavy paper. 

Place the paper outside in the drizzly rain.

Watch it carefully.  We learned the hard way that washable marker totally washes off of the paper if left in the rain more than a minute or two. 

After it has been sufficiently dripped on, bring the paper inside to dry.  Be careful where you place it because the wet paper will transfer some of the marker ink onto whatever it is touching. 

Note how the rain has smudged the marker drawing, making it resemble the fuzzy, blurry effect of Impressionist artwork.

Don't forget to hang the finished product where everyone can admire it.  A sunny window lets the light shine through the now-thinner paper, showcasing the brilliant colors.  Well, after the rain stops, that is.

Rainy day success! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

31 Days, 31 Smiles {Day 25}: How Do You...Find Places For Children's Artwork?


How do you find places for all the crafts that children make?!

submitted by Joanie

I am clutter-phobic to a fault.  I regularly go through my house and find things to weed out and I can rarely open the back to my van without finding stuff I've bagged up for the Goodwill.  So how do I handle all the art work and craft projects that accumulate in a house of five children? 

When we do seasonal crafts like when we made cherry blossom trees in the spring or fall Q-tip trees a few weeks ago, I hang them on a wall where our family and our guests can see the beauty and enjoy it. When the season is over, I remove the artwork and throw  it away.

When a child colors a lovely picture that he is proud of, I hang it on the refrigerator along with the four or five other masterpieces, but when I'm given another work of art, I quietly remove the oldest work and throw it away.  If I think it may be missed, I'll lay it on top of the refrigerator for a few days in case one of the children asks for it.  (They rarely do.) 

When we do an art project for school, I punch holes in it and put it in the child's year-end portfolio

If we do an art project that is not flat, we keep it for awhile, but when we need to make room for another project, I take a picture of the child with it...and then throw it away. 

My children are not as clutter-phobic as I am so my three oldest child have a portfolio similar to this one sold by Amazon. They are allowed to keep whatever papers, coloring sheets, drawings, paintings, or popsicle stick puppets will fit in it.  I try to keep my mouth shut about what goes into the portfolios and the children will often go through them on their own to make room for their most valued creations. 

How do you find places for the artwork that is created in your home?  Let us know in the comments. 

Also, if you have a question for a future "How Do You...?" post, share that in the comments, too, or send me an e-mail! I'd love to hear from you. 

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