Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fun Day Sunday!

Okay, it's time to gather your materials for our second Fun Day Sunday! I promised something more boy-oriented than last week's ladybugs, so here you have it...SNAKES! The first thing you'll need is a children's book about snakes. Fiction books are great to start with, since they have a "story" that will draw kids in. If you find that your little one LOVES the whole snakey subject, there are tons of great children's NONfiction books available, too.

A particular favorite fiction book is Verdi, by Janell Cannon (you may be familiar with her other best-seller, Stellaluna). Verdi is about a little yellow snake who fears growing into an old, sluggish green snake. This book should be readily available at your public library.
However, if you can't locate a copy...The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash, by Trinka Hakes Noble is another great fiction book. It's a little more detailed than Verdi, but still a great storyline!
Other materials you will need: a thin paper plate, crayons/markers/poster paint & brush, scissors. This activity will be fun, simple and inexpensive.
1) Snuggle up and read the snake book of your choice. As you read, remember to stop at key points in the story to ask our simple comprehension question, "Oooh, what do you think will happen NEXT??" Discuss the story and how it could have been different with a different main character or with a different ending.

2) Art Activity time! Draw a spiral on a paper plate. You will probably want to do this for your child, because I can tell you, it's harder than it looks, LOL! (Hint: I cut a spiral freehand and then used it to trace the spiral on another paper plate.)
Have your child color the snake green, on both sides of the plate, if you want.

Or, you can have your child paint the plate, allow it to dry and THEN draw the spiral. That's what I did, plus I painted it on both sides. But I'm kind of neurotic, LOL! Then all your child will need to do is cut it out on the line!

Pierce a hole in the snake's head (I used a needle and clear thread) and hang your child's creation in a place of honor! Here's mine hanging on the front porch where it will turn in the breeze...or you could hang it inside near a vent so that the air flow will make it turn.

He's surprisingly happy-looking, don't you think?

While you and your child are admiring his/her work, you can have your child tell you his/her favorite part of the story and WHY he/she liked that. You can ask him or her to retell the story, using the prompts, "What happened at the beginning of the story?" "What happened in the middle of the story?" "What happened at the end?"
So there you have it! You've worked on comprehension/sequencing/retelling (more crucial reading skills) with your questioning and fine motor skills. You've encouraged the love of reading in your child. You've done a simple, inexpensive, UNPLUGGED learning activity with your child. Oh, yeah, and I made up these sequencing cards for you to use...drawing a spiral with my mouse is beyond my skill set, but you could print the cards and hand-draw the spiral.
(DUH, forgot to include the cards the first time I published this post. If you want a pdf of the cards, email me!)

OH, and don't forget the FOOD!! Food is a great reinforcer and the "glow" will spread from the sugary treat to the whole reading experience, especially if your normally don't allow your child to eat a lot of sugar! So how about some yummy gummy, I mean, gummy SNAKES! LOL

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different...

I spent the day sewing a really cute rickrack bib and monogrammed burpie for a customer and did not have enough sense to take a picture before I sent them off! So I thought I would show you some things that I made for our older son's/his wife's wedding.

We are originally from Pittsburgh, in case you haven't figured that out by looking at the "faux Terrible Towels" in the picture to the left. Our son had the idea of having their wedding guests wave the towels (instead of throwing bird seed or rice) when he and his wife walked out of the church together.

Unfortunately, even for the least expensive Terrible Towels we could find online, it would have cost an ABSOLUTE FORTUNE to buy enough for every guest to get one. Mom to the rescue...I bought white hotel hand towels online, washed/dried them to fluff them up, dyed them a combination of orange and yellow and hand-stenciled their "logo" (team E, since that's the initial of our last name) on every single one. The picture shows our kitchen, which looked like a faux Terrible Towel factory!
Since the groom's side is responsible for the rehearsal dinner, I decided to carry through with the theme and created these little flags to go in the centers of the tables. I made enough for every person at the rehearsal dinner to get one.

And I'll leave you with a picture of my classroom, where a couple of the leftovers hang to remind me of that special day! Hmmm, that faux towel does not look all that great hanging under the REAL Terrible Towel, LOL!
Don't forget to check back tomorrow, when I'll be posting my second Fun Day Sunday activity. Here's a hint...there's a book and an activity again, but this time, instead of cute ladybugs, the book's main character is something a little more slithery. After all, I can't forget to choose something for the BOYS!

Monday, June 28, 2010


Before I explain the rather ominous title of this post, check out the giveaway bib I just mailed to Nancy, the winner of my giveaway! I downloaded this ultra-cute firetruck design especially for her little great-nephew, Joseph. I know firetrucks were a favorite for our boys and I hope Joseph feels the same way!

Now, to explain the title of this you remember this lady? She was the Water Boy's mama, Mama Boucher. If you saw the movie, you probably remember anything that made Mama Boucher mad was "THE DEVIL!". Well, pretty much everything was THE DEVIL to her!
So what does Mama Water Boy have to do with anything? See those little ruffled baby pants in the picture below? They may look innocent enough, but I can tell you FOR SURE that they are THE DEVIL!! LOL Can you imagine that those little drawers took me about 4 hours to sew????? WOW. That stretch of time involved a lot of sewing, a whole lot of ripping out what I'd sewn (including taking off the third ruffle that I had double-sewed for strength) and a sprinkling of colorful language.
So here is the latest baby dress, complete with its matching ruffled bottoms. Which baby dress do you prefer, the one with the monogram on the bottom band (like the froggie one I made) or this one with the monogram on the chest? I made two drawstrings for the straps on this one, instead of using the two satin ribbons.
I'll have to take a pic of the baby dress on its own, so it can go into my Etsy store as an example of another dress I'll be selling. The little dress was fun to make and did not involve any ripping out of stitches or cursing. I'm not putting the ruffled pants in my Etsy store because you'd better believe I will NOT be making more of them! I'm telling you, they are THE DEVIL! LOL
Hoping to have these items (including the firetruck/monogrammed bib) in the Etsy store by tomorrow at least. Leave me a comment to let me know which baby dress you prefer!

Sunday, June 27, 2010


WOO-HOOO!! I'm so excited to announce the winner of my first-ever giveaway!!

Congratulations to Nancy, who won my bib giveaway! Now I guess she will have to choose whether to give the bib to her granddaughter or her great-newphew. Ooooor, she could give one the freebie and order another bib for the other one!

Check back often, because this was so much fun that I'll be doing another giveaway soon!
Now I'll leave you with a few pics of some insulated lunch bags and drawstring backpacks that I embroidered for two of Cassie's boys. Cassie has a fish theme going for their beach gear this year. Cassie is EXTREMELY organized and always has either a theme or color scheme or both going.
The colors on these photos are not even close to correct. The pic at the bottom, with the open lunch bag, shows the true colors - a nice royal blue and a lime green. How is it possible that one shot will turn out to have the right colors while all the rest, taken in the exact same lighting conditions, are waaay off?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

10" Dress and Peach-sized Pants!!

First of all, I guess you have to realize that I had BOYS. Two of them. They wore teensy jeans and itty-bitty t-shirts. And I did sew for them...tiny bib overalls, "jams" (I'm showing my age...they were long shorts in case you were not yet born in those days), costumes for things at school and Halloween costumes - LOTS of Halloween costumes.

But there's really nothing to compare with the absolute adorable-ness of a 10" dress!!!!!! I made this for our little granddaughter-to-be and the thought that she will probably swim in it as a newborn is just kind of mind-boggling. This afternoon, I made her a matching diaper cover with a big ol' Z across the nether regions, LOL.

I put a smallish peach in the pic with the pants, just for scale. Wow, and there will be a little human WEARING A DIAPER in there. Just an amazing thought!
I'll be putting those pics in my Etsy store as samples of what will be available. Tomorrow, I'm going to do another diaper cover, but this time, it will have RUFFLES. RUFFLES!!!! I'm so excited!!
Yeah, I loved my boys. But all this girly stuff is FUN!
Oh, and PS, don't forget to enter my bib giveaway if you have not already done so. I'll be closing the giveaway at 3 PM Eastern tomorrow and will announce the winner in tomorrow's post. I wanted to thank everyone who has entered so far...what nice comments I have received. Good luck to all!

Friday, June 25, 2010


That's what I said when I looked out our window and saw THIS two doors down!!! I yelled for my husband to come look and he said the same exact thing, LOL!
The family who used to live in that
house moved out a couple of months ago. I guess the realtor has some sort of cleanup company working there. There's a huge dumpster parked in the driveway and the workers had totally filled it with dead limbs and brush from the backyard. They topped off the dumpster with lots of stuff from the garage. I guess something began to smolder and finally caught fire last night!

So, being the good blogger that I am, I ran for my camera and snapped pics until the billowing smoke forced me back inside.

Aren't firefighters just amazing?! They venture where most of us would fear to tread...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mother Nature...

Have respect. Don't mess with her. I should have known that. It all started innocently enough, back in April when we bought a couple of tomato plants. They looked like this...see that tiny thing by the dime? Like that.

I even researched online first. It said to buy one plant per person. Two per person if you plan to can the tomatoes. Well, the itty-bitty plants looked like something that might produce some scrawny little tomatoes...that is, if I managed not to kill them entirely. (I am not a gardener and I hate yard work. I am just a tomato lover.)

So I scoffed at the online advice and bought six plants, 3 apiece for my husband and me. And NOW LOOK.
OH. MY. GOSH. (Ignore the high grass. I already told you I hate yard work, right?)


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fun Day Sunday!

So this week's fun learning activity to do with your child over the upcoming weekend is...LADYBUGS! First you'll read a book together and then you'll "cook" and enjoy a snack together. Your child will have a blast and you will have sneaked in a lot of learning in the process!

First, locate the book: any children's book about ladybugs will do. Our local public library lists 21 ladybug books in the juvenile section, both fiction and nonfiction. A favorite fiction ladybug book of mine, which should be readily available at your local library, is Eric Carle's The Grouchy Ladybug. Other great fiction books include The Very Lazy Ladybug by Isobel Finn and Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis (Ladybug Girl actually stars in an entire series off books now.) There's also a really good nonfiction ladybug book by Melvin and Gilda Berger that's called Grub to Ladybug. Check out your local library to see what they have!

For the snack, you will need the following ingredients:

round crackers (such as Ritz), strawberry cream cheese (or strawberry frosting if cream cheese is not going to work for you), red licorice laces (or licorice bites cut into licorice is more accurate, if your child likes the taste) and raisins (or chocolate chips).
Assemble the ingredients, then grab the book, get comfy with your child on the couch or snuggle up in a chair together and READ. Ask this question every so often (this works better in fiction than nonfiction books), "What do you think will happen NEXT?!" Asking that simple comprehension question will help your child learn to make predictions as he/she reads - and that's a very valuable reading skill. Once the book is finished you and your child can take turns making up different endings or talking about how the story would change if it were about a different insect, or a spider or even an animal.

Next, the snack!! Here are some pics of how the snack is assembled. Remember to allow your child to do everything he/she is able. Who cares if the cream cheese is not spread evenly and the legs all wind up on the same side. Symmetry is a developmental concept that your child will understand better as he/she gets older.

The crackers...

the cream cheese...

the licorice laces...

The finished ladybug!

If your child will not eat the raisins or chocolate chips, have him/her count them out and put them on anyway. Same with the legs. Any items he/she won't eat can be picked off. For that matter, if he/she doesn't want to eat the finished product at all, so be it! Maybe someone in your house (if all else fails, the DOG) will enjoy the snack. The important part is that you have spent some quality time with your child, UNPLUGGED from electronics, communicating and most of all, having fun together. This snack activity covers a whole host of educational concepts...following oral directions and counting objects, to name two. Here is a pic of some recipe cards I created. If you would like a full-sized copy, email me and I'll send you a pdf to print and cut out for use with the snack activity. Enjoy!


I finished the burp cloths and bibs least the first batch of 6. I actually made each bib to match a burp cloth because...well, because I could, I suppose. Not that I expect the baby to be using the matching items at each feeding, LOL!

Still not stellar photography, but at least the colors are closer to accurate. Have you EVER seen anything as cute as the ladybug alphabet in the photo above? I just LOVE that font! The ribbon on the matching ladybug burp cloth is actually two ribbons - I sewed a thinner red ribbon to a wider black one and sewed them both down together. And the bib on the right has rickrack sewn around the neck. What's more fun on baby stuff than RICKRACK?!

In the pic above, the Z burp cloth also has a double ribbon - a hot pink dotted one is sewn to a wider black one (the black one is a little bit hard to see with the dark background.) I was so excited when I found that hot pink dotted ribbon- Zoey's momma loves pink and black!

Below are some pics of the bibs alone. I'm going to put individual pics of the bibs and the burp cloths into my Etsy store so they will be available to custom-order. Hopefully, I'll get the pics done and put the items in my store tomorrow. And just so the fellas don't feel left out, I'll be adding some more BOYISH-looking designs, too! Already picked up some cute ribbons and some different-colored bibs.

So in honor of my new blog, I'm going to have my first giveaway! Do you have a special baby in your life or do you know someone who's expecting? If you're the winner of my giveaway, you will receive your choice (color and style) of a custom-monorgrammed/embroidered baby bib for your little one. Leave a comment on THIS POST to let me know you would like to enter the bib giveaway. I will number the comments and use a random number generator (probably on Sunday night) to choose a winner. If the drawing is held on Sunday, I will announce the winner on Monday!

OH, and don't forget to check in tomorrow for my first FUN DAY SUNDAY! (Yes, I know tomorrow is not Sunday, LOL. I'm giving busy moms and dads time to gather materials for the weekend.) Here's a hint...this week's activity involves two things kids love...books and FOOD!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Burp Cloths and Bibs!

This will just be a quickie post, because I'm in a sewing/embroidery frenzy! However, I promised pics, so pics there shall be. Let me say right from the start that my sewing skills are WAY better than my photography skills. Things always look better than they do in my pics.

The picture above is a good example of how bad my photography is, but maybe you can look past that and see how cute the bibs and burp cloths turned out! The bib on the left is actually a lime green with royal blue embroidery...the bib toward the right is hot pink with black embroidery (the dotted ribbon on the cloth below it matches it) and the burp cloth on the right has red embroidery and a matching red ribbon. Maybe closeups will help out:

hot pink burp cloth above, lime green bib below

I will try to get some pics outside tomorrow. Hopefully, the natural light will show the colors better???

Let me just leave you with a little visitor in our front yard. There were two of them out there and I thought they MUST be siblings...look at the little white streak on his/her head. The other one looked exactly the same. I hope you can tell how TINY this little guy is!

Check back tomorrow for more pics!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My New TOY!!

Oh my, I am in stitching heaven. Yesterday, I took the plunge and bought this beauty!! For those who don't know, it's a stand-alone embroidery machine (no that doesn't mean you have to buy the chair separately, means it ONLY embroiders). I already have a sewing machine that I love so much that I actually named my truck after him (Pfaffy, yeah, I's a sickness). Now I have like my own little studio!

I've already embroidered/monogrammed 3 burp cloths for our little granddaughter who is due to arrive in August. I am going to finish sewing ribbons on the burp cloths as soon as I post this. And I'll try to have pics of them to post tomorrow.

I have been SO entranced with my burp cloth
embroidery that my husband finally stuck his head in the door and asked, "Uh, how long does corn on the cob take to cook?" LOL
I wanted to let everyone know that I will be having a giveaway to celebrate the start of my summer vacation. I'll pull a winner later this week...I'll post more details in the next few days.

OH, and I will be doing a weekly feature called Fun Day Sunday. It will involve simple and fun learning activities that you can do with your child. You would think that given the name of this feature, I'd be posting it on Sundays. But no...I'll be posting it on Wednesdays. Why, you ask? Because I know you're busy and this will give you time to collect any needed materials/ingredients and be ready to roll on the weekend.

Off to finish those ribbons!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Achievers ARE Leaders, After All...

Three years ago, I created a program at our school where 4th and 5th grade students apply and are hired for jobs throughout the school. Our school motto was "3 Rs...Respect, Rigor, Results", so I called my program Achievers 'R' Leaders (ARL). ARL has grown from 97 kids that first year to 143 kids placed in jobs this year. The program is directed at empowering students who may not have achieved great success academically. It has been great for those kids' self-esteem and has gotten such positive feedback from parents, administrators and, of course, the kids themselves.

We already had an ARL Food Bank group that collects and donates food. This year, I wanted to add another charity-focused job. I decided to try an ARL Charity Quilters group, which would create preemie quilts and donate them to the charity Newborns in Need. With so many more 'glamorous' jobs available (P.E. Helper, Bus Dismissal, Teacher's Helper, Ambassador), I wondered if any students would even be interested in the quilter group.
I was so happy when three students applied...and one of them was a BOY!! I received an overwhelmingly-generous donation of fabric from the hilarious Kim , the illustrious Gran, and a lot of the nice people at Bearpaws and Hollyhocks. (Check out their cute laughing mice and the adorable puppies on the quilt backs. Thanks again, everyone!) The kids worked hard this year and created 3 preemie quilts, start to finish!
As the preemie quilts neared completion, the boy quilter happened to see a homeless man one day. He asked if we could make a quilt for that man, too! Oh my, he brought me to tears. OF COURSE we would make it.
(I left a preemie quilt in the pic for scale. Yes, that is a genuine, sewn-in wrinkle in the green stripe at the bottom. I've been known to sew in a pucker or two myself and I'm a LOT older. If you look closely, you can see that our dog, Deegan, approves.)

Donating to charity and improving kids' self-esteem in the's a GOOD thing!

Friday, June 18, 2010

SCHOOL'S OUT!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, we made it through another school year! My husband asked me what the best thing about the last day of school is. I guess I'd have to say it's the excitement of having the whole summer stretching out before me, with nearly-endless possibilties and all those extra hours to pursue my dreams.

This summer, my dreams include sewing tiny baby dresses and itty-bitty baby shoes...monogramming adorable onesies, rompers, coveralls...just having time to create! (And YES, we DO have TWO grandchildren on the way!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for asking, LOL! Scroll down on the right to see the slightly-creepy floating babies.)

I will be posting pictures of my clothing creations. I'll also be posting fun activities for you and you little one to do together. And I'll be posting LOTS of tips for helping you to raise a reader! After all, I have had 21 years of teaching kindergartners to read.

Just can't wait to get started!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Coming Soon!

Check back in a few days...just dipping a toe in the water right now, but once I get going there will be no stopping me!! LOL