Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dyed Macaroni Beads

This might sound silly, but long before I actually became a mom, I used to dream about doing fun preschool crafts with my kids. It's probably because I have such warm, cozy memories of doing stuff like this with my mom when I was little. For some reason, though, it seemed like whenever I mentioned this to people, they would roll their eyes and make some comment about macaroni necklaces. To this day I don't understand the negative reactions! I had such a good time making these colorful pasta bead necklaces with my girls the other day! Now, I'm not a big fan of consuming food dyes , but I think they are great for non-edible crafts like this. 

To make these pasta beads, we mixed about 15 drops of food coloring with 2 tsp. of white vinegar in a baggie, and then added 1/2 cup of pasta. We let the pasta soak up the dye for about 5 minutes, then spread the pasta out on paper towels to dry. (I actually stuck them in our dehydrator for a few minutes.) I found that turning the pasta over after a few minutes of drying helped prevent any sticking. 

This was a really great project for us, too, because lately I have been looking for good activities to keep Miss H occupied while Miss K and I start kindergarten (in just a few more weeks! I'm so excited!!)  Miss H loves lacing beads and sorting things, so after the girls strung a few necklaces, I hid the beads away and plan on putting them into the "busy box" rotation for her (thank God for short attention spans! out of sight, out of mind!). Another big hit has been the large, shallow Sterilte box that I filled with beans, a couple old kitchen utensils, and our Discovery Toys nesting cups. I spread an old sheet out on the floor under the box, which makes clean up a little easier. I also purchased this great shape and color sorter from Lauri Toys using some giftcards I earned from Swagbucks

Are there any crafts or preschool activities that you remember from your own childhood that you would like to revisit (...or any that you would not)? Leave a comment below! 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Pool Party!

Hamming it up at a friend's birthday party. A nice change from the lake!

Monday, July 18, 2011


From Mrs. Marine and the Tiny Troops: Blogging Tips: Comment Forms - Say NO to CAPTCHA: "First off, Please, I'm begging you all, turn off Captcha!!! Disable Captcha for blog comments!!

... unless your having problems with spam and you think a computer is generating the spam, then what do you need captcha for? Want a second opinion? Click Here!
It's really annoying when I fill out the log-in info, click "Post Comment", I assume I'm done at this point, but NO the form refreshes and then the Captcha shows up, its a little easier when its at least there to begin with...."

I can't agree with this more. It's so annoying when I go to submit a comment on a blog, think I'm done, then later realize there is a pop up comment box waiting for me to enter a tangle of often illegible letters. If you are a blogger and do have a problem with spam, I urge you to moderate your comments, not make it harder for fans to interact with you and your blog.

I'm joining up with bloggers saying "NO" to Captcha! 

**CLOSED** Bummis Easy Fit Cloth Diaper #Giveaway! #clothdiapers

As I predicted in my Bummis Easy Fit cloth diaper review a few months ago, we are now done with diapers! Miss H decided on the 4th of July that she did NOT want to wear a diaper that day.  Although I was a little hesitant to let her go without (since we were going to be out and about all day for Independence Day activities), I let her wear some of her sister's underwear and she was, TA-DAH, accident free the entire day and night! I do stick her in a diaper to go to Sunday school (just in case, and she is ok with that), but other than that, we're done!

To celebrate, I am giving away one Bummis Easy Fit cloth diaper to one of my readers!

For your chance to win, complete the mandatory entry.  Extra entries will not count unless you have completed the mandatory entry! 

Mandatory entry: You must first be a follower of my blog on Google Friend Connect.  Leave a comment telling me your GFC name and which color or pattern Easy Fit you would choose if you win.

Extra Entries! (this is optional; complete as many as you wish; leave a comment for each one)

* Subscribe to my blog via email (please leave your email address)

* Follow me (thecatinthetree) on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway (leave Twitter name and URL)

* Follow the Granola Chicks Blogging Cooperative on Facebook (leave your Facebook name)

* Share this giveaway on Facebook (leave URL)

* Blog about this giveaway (leave URL)

Good luck! The giveaway will end August 1, 2011 at 11:59pm EST.

Congratulations, SondraMama!!  

  • Giveaway ends August 1, 2011 at 11:59pm EST
  • Winner will be chosen via Random.Org. I will contact the winner by email, and post the winners name on my blog.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to the email or another winner will be chosen.
  • This giveaway is open to residents of US & Canada.

From "Farm" to Fridge

When you choose to consume factory farmed meat, eggs and dairy, you are saying that this is acceptable treatment of God's creatures. Is "tasting good" really a good enough reason to condone and support this industry, especially in this day and age when there are so many other options that make killing animals for food unnecessary?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Raw Chia Pudding

I adapted this recipe for raw chia pudding from a recipe from Natalia KW.  Miss K watched the video with me this evening and wanted to make it immediately, so I pulled it together with what we had on hand. What I like about this recipe is that it is quick, easy, delicious, healthy, and very adaptable. Substitute your favorite ingredients to make it as much raw or vegan as you like :)

Raw Chia Pudding with fresh fruit
serves 2

1 cup raw almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
3 tbs chia seeds
1 tbs raw honey* (or other sweetener, to taste)
1/4 tsp vanilla powder
pinch of salt (optional)

Mix ingredients and let sit for a few minutes until the pudding thickens.
Pour over sliced seasonal fruit (I used fresh peaches) and serve! (Is that easy or what!?)

*Honey is one animal ingredient I do use, sparingly.

Friday, July 8, 2011

My Father's World- Kindergarten! #homeschool

Fun in the big city!
      A month ago I spent one overwhelming day at the HEAV (Home Educators Association of Virginia) homeschool convention. I brought the girls with me, and initially I wondered if it would be worth going for just one day and not attending any workshops, but I am so glad I did! For one, the little road trip to Richmond gave us a welcome change of scenery (and on the way back we were able to stop in Charlottesville and see a friend that we don't see nearly often enough). Two, I found it extremely helpful to browse the vendor booths and grab catalogs and pick up and flip through the different curriculum materials.
      The curriculum that stood out the most for me was My Father's World. They had a sample of some of the kindergarten work on display and it was just gorgeous. Interestingly enough, I already had one of their catalogs at home, had looked through it months before and didn't think it was for us. After seeing the samples of the Kindergarten curriculum work at the convention, however, I had to change my mind.
      I spent the next few weeks reading reviews, searching through homeschooling forums and whatever else I could find comparing a few of the different curriculums I had seen at the convention. I fell more and more in love with My Father's World. It came up as our top recommendation using HomeEdExpert (free & personalized curriculum guidance, developed in collaboration with Cathy Duffy).  I wrestled with the fact that I *know* I could do a great job teaching kindergarten material just unschooling and using the ideas in the Kindergarten Basics book I mentioned a few months ago, but having that little bit of extra structure of a set curriculum really won me over in the end, and I ended up ordering the deluxe package a couple weeks ago.

Miss K told me one day that she would like to start school when she is 5. She already knows her alphabet and letter sounds and is starting to read 3 letter words pretty well, and she is also doing some easy addition (i.e. I think she is ready for K), so I suggested that we start after my mom and stepdad visit us this summer. She then said that she would like to start when they are here. A few days after having this discussion, UPS delivered our MFW curriculum. While Miss H was taking her nap, we opened it up and explored the contents. Miss K casually said to me,

MFWK Deluxe Package
"You know.... I changed my mind about wanting to start when Mamma is here."

"Oh, is that so?" I asked.

"Yes," she said, "I want to start when (Miss H) is sleeping!"

I don't blame her; I think I am just as excited! As I read For the Children's Sake, I find that I resonate well with Charlotte Mason's ideas (I didn't know a whole lot about her philosophies before). I think that MFW will be a really good fit for us. It has the structure that I'm looking for, but is also flexible and incorporates lots of fun and creative activities. I love how Biblical principles are integrated into the curriculum, and I'm especially excited about the introductory Creation module. The included resources are high quality and well thought out. We are encouraged to use the library for most, if not all, of our reading material. I think that is such an important skill to have and foster! It's also really nice to have the support of other MFW'ers as well as share ideas on the My Father's World forum. I also joined a Yahoo group of families using MFWK this year. I'll keep you updated on our progress and post pictures of our projects once we get started!

Here is a great article with lots of tips for keeping a toddler busy while homeschooling older children! We're already trying to incorporate some of these ideas into our day in order to ease the adjustment.