Friday, August 23, 2013

School Theme for 2013

This is our theme for this year's school year:

Thursday, August 22, 2013

First Day

I fell behind on my back-to-school posts because ran into an emotional barrier. This process of starting Kindergarten has been a lot more difficult for me than I anticipated. I'm trying to focus on the fun and excitement and I'm trying to start some new traditions but part of me isn't dealing well with my baby growing up. AT ALL.

The night before the first day we held our first School Year's Eve dinner.

I found this printable banner online but I can't remember where I found it!  If it's yours, please let me know so I can give you credit.

I let Noodlebug choose the menu and he told me he wanted my homemade enchiladas with rice and beans.

The morning of the first day, Noodlebug woke to a new backpack and a schultüte. These cones are traditional in Germany for the first day of 1st grade but I thought we'd do it for the first day of Kindergarten.

I simply rolled a piece of posterboard into a cone shape and cut off the uneven edge. I closed it with clear packing tape.  I tried to use a ribbon border but it didn't turn out well. I glued some tissue paper to the inside of the cone and gathered it up with a ribbon. The cone contained some school supplies and a few small treats like some LEGO minifigures.

There are a zillion free printable "first day" signs online but I fell in love with this one from a kit from Hallmark.

It comes with signs for every single school year.  I'm hoping I can pack it away where I can find it every year!

The first day went off without a hitch and I only cried a little bit.  I took the day off from work so I could both drop him off and pick him up.  It made me sad realizing that I may never do another drop off or pick up.  School hours don't really fit with my work schedule.  I want so much to be a stay-at-home mom but it will never be possible.  That will always be a source of pain for me.

For now, I'm just looking forward to getting home and hearing about his day. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Citrus Lane August 2013: 5-Yr-Old Boy

Hooray! We got our August Citrus Lane box. I think this was a really good one!

FabKids is a subscription clothing service similar to StyleMint.  It automatically bills you $39.95 for a three-piece outfit each month.  In this month's box, we got a code for a free outfit but it automatically subscribes you to the service. If I don't want to continue, I'll have to remember to cancel.  Retail value:  $39.95

We love Annie's Organics! This is going in my son's lunch!  Retail value:  about 88 cents

An adorable pirate puzzle from Barefoot Books. I am very familiar with this puzzle because I am a Barefoot Books Ambassador!  We love their products!!!  Retail value: $14.99

I love carrying hand wipes like these in my car.  And I love that they are alcohol-free.  Retail value: about $4.50

These Ouchies Jr. "band-aids" feature images from Jon Scieszka's TRUCKTOWN book which we own and love.  Adorable!!!  Retail value: $5.00

This cute travel activity book comes with high quality Faber-Castell markers. My son started using it right away!  Retail value: about $10.00

I loved this box. I thought it had great variety.  I can't wait to try all the products.  Approximate retail value of box:  $75.00

I'm not sure if I'm going to redeem the oufit because I haven't had much success with websites that do subscription clothing services. Still, it's a neat idea.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Favorite Tools for Packing School Lunches (Repost)

I am reposting this post about my favorite tools for packing school lunches that includes a few new additions.

100 Days of Real Food completely changed the way I pack my son's lunches.  Although I did pretty well with selecting healthy non-processed choices, I would often fall into a creative rut and send the same things every day. I love how 100 Days of Real Food educates me about making better food choices. And since she posts photos of her kids' lunches on her Facebook page, I always get great inspiration there as well.

Over the last year, we have worked to improve not only Noodlebug's food but we have also moved towards a zero-trash goal. I get great lunch ideas from both 100 Days of Real Food and Weelicious.  Weelicious is coming out with a new cookbook for lunches soon and I can't wait to see it.

Here are a few of my favorite pieces of lunch gear:

1. Hanna Andersson Lunchbox

We bought this Deluxe Lunch Bag from Hanna Andersson last year.  I also got the matching food jar.  The deluxe version has an additional compartment so you can keep hot/cold items separate. This style is no longer available but the new ones are now online.

2. Klip it Lunch Cube

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 I love this thing! It folds in half and is easy for my son to open.  I highly recommend hard-sided boxes like these to keep your food from getting squished in a soft-sided lunchbox.

Sometimes, I will use a Ziploc divided lunch container instead. We wash these out and reuse them.

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3. Silicone Molds
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I always worried about the amount of sugar in most yogurts so I started making my own yogurt smoothies with a recipe from 100 Days of Real Food.  I usually make a big batch on Sunday, fill the molds, and throw them in the freezer.  We add one to Noodlebug's lunch most days along with an ice pack.  I put the molds INSIDE OF the hard-sided lunch container to keep them safe. We've never had a problem. They are usually thawed perfectly by lunchtime.

4. Ice Packs

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We use a couple of different types of ice packs. I have two of the above Rubbermaid ice packs.  I have one monkey and one frog.

I also recently bought this Kids Konserve ice packs from Ecomom.

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5.  Reusable Napkins

Although it would be easy enough to sew your own, I splurged and bought some of these fun napkins from Funkins. Each one comes with a tag where you can write your child's name.  They have so many fun patterns!

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6. Utensils

I just got this set of Sugar Booger utensils. I love how they come in their own carrying case.

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They come in a variety of patterns and are available at Ecomom and Amazon.

7. Food Storage

I got this great idea from 100 Days of Real Food. These little silicone muffin cups are great for dividing out crackers, fruit, salads or anything else that needs to be contained. We often use these for hard-boiled eggs.

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 My son loves the pouches from Plum Kids and Ella's Kitchen so I still stick those in his lunch occasionally.  However, I just found Squooshis recently and we are trying that out.

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 We've been using these resuable Squooshis with organic applesauce from the jar.  You could easily use them for anything squishy, however.  The bottom of the Squooshi has a ziplock and we haven't had any accidents so far.

For anything that doesn't fit into the hard-sided box, I use Itzy Ritzy bags:

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 These bags come in a variety of sizes and colors.  I have a few different size things like crackers and fruit.  Much much better than plastic baggies!  They are BPA-free and are machine-washable!

I am very careful to label all of Noodlebug's stuff and I use two different types of labels.  First of all, I love these rubber labels from Inchbug:

They are very stretchy and fit around just about any kind of bottle.  I have been using them for years and they hold up beautifully. Find them here.
On a side note, I use Inchbug's tag labels for clothing.  They are small stickers you can put on a tag and they even go through the wash!  When you are done with the item of clothing, just peel them off!  I love these since i resell all of Noodlebug's clothing.

You can also get labels like these from Name Bubbles.

Check out this 100 Days of Real Food page and this Weelicious page for some wonderful visual lunch inspiration.  There is also a great Bento Box series with lots of photographs at Hellobee.

 We are working really hard on eating healthier as a family and eliminating garbage.  We started using most of these products when my son was 4 and he has had no problem getting used to bringing everything home. We haven't lost anything yet! I love all the inspiration I'm finding on the internet.  I hope these tips help you over the Summer and into the school year.  I'll add to it as I find new things!

(There are NO affiliate links within this post. I receive no compensation and all opinions are my own.)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

First Day of School Teacher Gift

I got all my inspiration for this project from Laura Winslow Photography.

I always love going through the Dollar bins at Target. You can find the most interesting things there! That is why I thought Laura's idea for a first day of school teacher gift was so perfect! My son starts Kindergarten next week and he'll have three teachers. I wanted to do something special for the first day.

They still had the cute pouches in the dollar bins at Target so I grabbed some for $3 a piece. I then printed out Laura's free tags and attached them using ribbon that I already had.

Laura put cute pencils and lip balm inside of her bags.  Personally, I always find myself needing hand lotion during the day.  So, I headed to the area at Target that has all the travel sizes and grabbed some lotion and EOS lip balm.

All in all, I think the gifts were about $5 each. It's just a small gift but I'm hoping it will show the teachers that we appreciate them already!  Thanks to Laura Winslow for the fun idea!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Beeswax Collage with Anna Corba

I have wanted to take a class with Anna Corba of Found Cat Studio for years.  I love her mixed media projects and how she incorporates beeswax into them. I have never tried that before and decided it would be fun to take one of her community education classes at the local junior college.

Each student's station was stocked with materials:

She even let us paw through her collection of ephemera which was too fun! Isn't it wonderful to get to go through someone else's stash?

I like to collect a bunch of images that I like in big stack and then sort through them to figure out a narrative.  Here is one of my pieces as I was trying to figure out how to lay everything out:

I have been very attracted to birds and butterflies lately.  I think part of it is that I feel like my own baby bird is getting ready to fly away. (he starts Kindergarten next week) Also, butterflies represent change in its most beautiful form. 

I managed to finish three pieces.  My favorite is the one on the right:

It is hard to see from the photographs but we sealed each piece with beeswax which gives the whole piece a lovely color.  It was a fun class and got me excited about the big art retreat coming up in September!!!

Stay tuned because I am going to feature several back-to-school posts over the next few days leading up to Noodlebug's first day of school!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Lisa Leonard Grateful Necklace---ONE DAY ONLY!!!

It is not secret that I love Lisa Leonard.  I own a bunch of her jewelry including the year-long build-a-charm-bracelet.  I love her products so much that I decided to become an affiliate.

Today, Lisa Leonard has a special promotion for one day only.

EXCLUSIVE necklace by Lisa Leonard. TODAY ONLY!

This beautiful limited edition necklace is available for $44. But only today!

It has never been in the shop and won't be offered again. I'm going to snatch one for myself right now!  Follow the link above to purchase.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fair Results

I entered four items in the Sonoma County Fair this year.  Just for fun.

My necklace and needle-felted fruit didn't win anything.

I think the necklace was a little too "avant garde" for the audience.  The fruit was just for fun.  I am new to needle-felting and my technique wasn't great.

I got first place for the hat that I made at ART IS YOU last year:

It always makes me think of Mary Poppins.

I am very proud to say that my mixed media painting of me and Noodlebug won Best in Show!

It was the last piece of art that I have made and the firsr thing in a long time that I have been proud of.  I made it to celebrate five years of motherhood and it's very special to me.

I am putting my winnings into a jar to save for a trip to Disneyland next year.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Camping and Hiking with Kids

We have waited far too long to take Noodlebug camping and we finally did it this past weekend.  We decided to go to Lassen National Park for our first camping attempt.  Noodlebug has been studying Earth Science in camp and we thought a park with a volcano would be a lot of fun. It was!!!

We already do a lot of day hikes with Noodlebug.  We try to keep it to about 2 miles.  Often, our day hikes involve letterboxing.  Since it is a little bit like a treasure hunt, it helps keep Noodle interested as we walk.  They do not allow letterboxes in National Parks so we couldn't do that this time. Sometimes, we also bring along a small, light-weight collection box.  The June Kiwi Crate came with one that has little compartments separated by color.  Your child can look for things to collect that match the different colors. You could easily make your own. If you want something more lightweight, you could create some index cards with different images or words on them for your own Scavenger Hunt.  I would laminate them and put them on a ring.  I saw a great idea in the latest Family Fun magazine for doing this using paint chip cards in different colors. You just punch a hole in each color, put the cards together on a ring, and then take them out into nature to try and match the colors up.  I had a great idea to make Noodlebug an explorer's belt that I saw in an Action Pack magazine but it hasn't come together yet. This belt has little pouches for collecting items and for carrying tools like a magnifying glass.  I love that it is hands-free!

The most important thing is to take time to wander.  Let kids explore.  We made lots of stops on a various hikes so that Noodlebug could take time to look at water bugs or flowers or whatever else struck his fancy.  At one stop, we stayed for about 20 minutes so that Noodle could build a little dam.
After reading Richard Louv's LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS, I feel even more passionate about giving kids time to explore in nature.  I don't to rush my child through the experience and I don't want to structure all of this time there.  At our campsite, I created parameters for Noodlebug in terms of exploration. He knew he couldn't pass certain trees or logs.  Beyond that, I let him explore on his own. 

I also made a little logbook for him.  I folded a few sheets of regular copy paper in half along with a sheet of construction paper for a cover and stapled it together. He could use his logbook and crayons to record what he found.  Another big hit was stopping at the Visitor's Center to join the programs they had for kids.  Lassen has a Chipmunk Club for ages 4-6 and a Jr Ranger Club for older children. They let us do both.  The Chipmunk Club involved taking a sheet of pictures on a hike and circling different flora and fauna that we found.  The Jr Ranger activity involved discussing ways to be green and doing a few related activities.  We turned in the sheets and received a sticker and a patch.  He loved that!  I think most National Parks have activities like that for children.

I think the best part of the trip was unplugging completely and just spending time together as a family hiking, exploring, singing and telling stories.  I'm already looking forward to our next adventure.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Barefoot Books

I am starting a new adventure today as a Barefoot Books Ambassador.  Many of you know that I am passionate about books.  I have worked in libraries for over 12 years and I love sharing my passion for reading with children. When my son was 2, his godmother gave him a Barefoot Books book.

He made me read it over and over and he insisted that I SING the entire book.  I was so grateful that it came with a CD for those times when my voice wouldn't cooperate.  Since we got ANIMAL BOOGIE, we have been adding to our collection.  I love the colorful books, the multicultural emphasis and the high quality of the products.  As I was browsing the online store recently, I saw that they offered opportunities to sell these wonderful books. I have been looking for additional ways to earn money and loved the idea of combining extra work with my passion for books and literacy. So, I am going to try my hand at being a Barefoot Book Ambassador.

I hope you will take a moment to browse all the wonderful products that are available.  Even if you don't live nearby, I can be your Ambassador and I'm happy to answer any questions about the products.  I hope you will enjoy Barefoot Books as much as I do!!!