Monday, December 13, 2010

Dresser Face Lift!

It's amazing what a difference a simple coat of paint will give! We got both of our sons' dressers for free (they were both rejected, ugly furniture), and gave them a bit of a face lift. See my favorite one, the crackle finish dresser facelift, HERE. Our second time around I just wanted a quick fix-up instead of a drawn-out project so I just gave it a light sand, some fresh paint, and cute drawer liners. Look at the difference it made!



Monday, December 6, 2010

Rag Quilted Christmas Tree Skirt Sewing Tutorial

My last Christmas Tree Skirt was from Home Interiors. It was super cute, with 3D Snowmen & Santas on it, but those became a midnight snack for our cats. After they maimed Santa & Frosty, someone also decided to puke on it. Unfortunately for me, Santa was dry-clean-only. Well, let's just say that dry-clean-only things don't belong in my house, on the floor. It was a bit of a lost cause. Since it was time for a new tree skirt, this is what I came up with... Not only is it still cute and quilty-looking, but it's much stronger and pet-proof... best of all, I can throw it in the washer whenever I need to! 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rag Bag Sewing Tutorial

As if I don't have enough bags already! I didn't have a cute one in these exact proportions though. This fun little bag is made by rag quilting squares together in the shape of a bag. It's super simple, and (in my humble opinion) super cute! The size is perfect for carrying a couple binders or notebooks, your Bible and class material, etc.

Want to make one of your own? 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fitted Crib Sheets for Baby & Toddler (Sewing Tutorial)

Don't be intimidated!, these are a cinch to make! This is a super simple 20-30 minute project that will make you never want to settle for store crib sheets again!!! 

Here's how they look all snug on the crib mattress:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pack & Play Sheet (Sewing Tutorial)

These are surprisingly simple and quick to make. Just cut your fabric to size, sew a couple quick seams, and you're done! These snug-fitting sheets don't even need elastic. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cowboy Sheriff Costume Sewing Tutorial

Doesn't every little boy need a cowboy costume? I'm pretty sure they do. Here's the dress-up costume I came up with for the cutest little sheriff in our town:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Make Your Own Bible Cover (Sewing Tutorial)

My Bible is larger than the typical size which made it a pain to find a cover for, especially since I’m picky anyway. Many Bible covers have a strap coming out of the spine end which means that the Bible is resting on its pages when being carried by the strap. For stiff Bibles or those w/ hard covers this probably doesn’t make a difference, but since mine’s soft and I want to keep the pages in good shape, I want the Bible to be resting on its spine while being carried by the straps instead. So I’ve designed it according to that requirement. I also placed a generous sized hidden pocket in it to accommodate my pencil case for underlining, as well as a couple outer pockets b/c it’s nice to have a place to stash a few papers. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

DIY Flat Top Sheets for Toddler Beds (Sewing Tutorial)

This is quicker than quick and easier than easy. You can make the sheets large enough to tuck under the toddler bed so they actually stay in place (store-bought toddler sheets don't measure up in this area!). 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Teaching Children How to Read

Here are my favorite resources and materials for teaching children how to read!

For a Gentle Introduction:
  • LeapFrog Letter Factory DVD - We received a copy of this and it turned out to be a super-easy way for my boys to learn their letter sounds with NO drilling, no flash cards, no formal lessons whatsoever. Just a simple video. 
  • LeapFrog Talking Words Factory DVD, - This is the follow-up dvd introducing how to blend letter sounds into words. This is only for children who already know their letter sounds! 
  • We got a lot of use out of our Lauri Letters. We used them to play simple games, and as they showed interest we used them to form words as a game. They thought this was great fun and were able to sound out three letter words in pre-school without any formal lessons. 
  • Be wary of doing too much too soon by way of formal reading lessons during the pre-school years

For Reading Lessons:
  • Hooked on Phonics is a great program if your child is ready for reading lessons! It's easy to pick up and use without parent preparation before-hand, and you can rest assured that you've got it covered. I'm currently using it with my newest reader and it's going well. 
  • BOB books are GREAT for beginning readers! It's a series of easy-readers that gently progress from the easiest three letter words to books with more than one sentence per page. I've used them both as a supplement and to teach reading. 
    • You can just jump right in, or if you'd like help making lesson plans to go with them, check out Teaching with Bob! It's written by a former reading tutor and home school mom who posted her own lesson plans that she used to make the Bob books into a complete phonics reading program. I used the free version of this when teaching my boys to read with Bob books. Now she's also made her curriculum available as a handy, printable PDF file you can purchase so you don't have to go through the blog for every single lesson.  
    • There are also lots of free printable activities that you can find online to go along with the BOB books. Here are a couple sites to check: Royal Baloo, 3 Dinosaurs, This Reading Mama
  • I liked Hooked on Phonics and Bob, but if you want to try something else,   check out Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool! I hadn't heard of it when we got started. Her reading program is 100% free, accessed online. She uses the McGuffey readers and begins by teaching common words by sight, then progresses into phonics. By the time you child completes it, they should be a very proficient reader. If you're interested, look at "Getting Ready 1" (preschool) and "Getting Ready 2" (kindergarten). If your child knows letter sounds and is ready to learn to read, start at lesson 172 of Getting Ready 1. 
  • Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons - I have not personally used this program, just so you know. BUT my sister-in-law did and recommends it for kids who are starting from the beginning with letter sounds rather than kids who already know how to sound out basic words. I checked it out from the library and would highly suggest that you do the same if you're considering it. It's a no-frills program (unlike Hooked-on-Phonics), but if you have  a tight budget it might be a great fit. If you read the Amazon reviews you'll see that the overwhelming majority of people who buy it love it. It works. It's cheap. It's doable. It's also non-consumable, which means that $15 is all you'll need to teach all 25 of your kids to read. Or 4. Or 2. What ever. 
  • The Three R's by Ruth Beechick. This little set of three books is great for mom of grade schoolers, regardless of what curriculum or method you choose. It is seriously fabulous. Don't just take my word for it either... check out the Amazon reviews.
  • Remember to keep reading lessons short!  This helps prevent burnout and keep learning fun... you don't want your Kindergartener to be overwhelmed with school, or you'll have a long, hard road ahead of you!! You can slow down or speed lessons as needed to suit them to your child's pace.
  • Want to know what we did? Read my post, Learning to Read: What Worked For Us. Of course this is just what worked with one kid... my current recommendation for a homeschooling Mom teaching reading to her kids would be to just buy Hooked on Phonics. The price is well worth it, it is easy to implement, and it saves me time. My recommendation to parents (whether homeschoolers or not) who just want to start informal reading lessons is to read through the Bob books together, no lesson plans needed. 

Please Remember That Every Child Learns Differently

It's important to work with your child's individual ability and interest. If children are "introduced to letters, words, and reading through their own learning style strength, they achieve much higher reading competency... If the child is strong kinesthetically, it's important to include hands-on practice such as tracing letters in the air with the hand or whole arm and/or tracing the letters with a finger in sand or salt. If the connections between the sounds and letters are not clicking for the visually oriented learner, use picture cues and focus on the shape of the letters, then write the letters or touch them. The auditory learner benefits by hearing a word first, having the phonetic sound pointed out, tracing or writing it, and then using it in a game or experience."(Source, page 98) 

*** Go back to my Reading Resources page! ***


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Took His Hand and Followed

by Mrs. Roy L. Peifer

My dishes went unwashed today, 
I didn't make the bed, 
I took his hand and followed 
Where his eager footsteps led. 

Oh yes, we went adventuring, 
My little son and I... 
Exploring all the great outdoors 
Beneath the summer sky

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I read about a survey given to mothers and kindergarten teachers which asked what skills are most important for children to have upon entering school... As a whole, the mothers all listed academic skills- like knowing ABC's and 123's, while the teachers all listed non-academic skills- like attention, listening, and fine-motor skills. While there isn't anything wrong with learning letters and counting (especially as your child shows an interest in learning them!), some of the best pre-school activities include: 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Early Academics

In conclusion to my previous post about Pre-Schooling, I'd like to share a few good bits of advice from experienced home schooling moms who would ask you to consider carefully before launching into early academics with your pre-school aged children. 

Can you start academics before age 5? Should You?

"I have no doubt that you can teach your children academics before they turn five. The important question is, should you? I would suggest that the answer is "no" for two reasons.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Deficiencies of Public Education

*This article was written by Teri Paulson & circulated by Illinois Family Institute.

I am a product of Illinois public schools. I was raised in the Wheaton area and attended public schools for 14 years, including a four-year degree at a public university. I paid attention in class. I studied. I got good grades. I learned what they had to teach. I only mention that because of the next thing I'm going to say: I did not learn what I needed to know to understand or appreciate my country, either its history or the principles upon which it was founded. And I did not learn what I needed to know to defend liberty and self-government.

I have learned more about my country and the tremendous truths upon which it was founded in the last few years than I learned in the first four decades of my life.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Best Bible Pen

    If you're going to write notes or references in the margins of your Bible, you may have noticed that it's hard to find a perfect Bible notes pen. You know, one that won't smear or skip or bleed through the page, and is still legible years down the line. Many pens' ink deteriorates for feathers out over time, making your notes no longer legible. Well, I think I finally found a great Bible notes pen, so here it is: the Pigma Micron 005 . And the great news is it only costs three bucks!

Monday, February 22, 2010

My Bible

If you're looking for the best quality Bible on the market- check out what Cambridge has to offer! I L-O-V-E my Cambridge Bible! My previous Bibles weren't particularly cheap (like $80-90), but I just haven't been happy with how they've held up long-term. Since I think it's a pain to switch Bibles (transferring notes, etc.), I took my time and researched to try to find the best quality one I could so that I could "move in" to it and stay put!

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Two Cents on Bible Translations

Many new translations of the Bible are said to be thought-for-thought, rather than a literal interpretation of the original text. These shouldn't be heavily relied upon, because they are depending on man's interpretation of God's thought. Here's a helpful guide to see where your translation falls between literal and thought interpretation:  (click it to view larger)
**This chart is copied from Mardel Bookstore website, here.

I found this chart at the Mardel Bookstore. Click HERE to read their Bible translation guide, which gives a brief explanation of each translation. 
The translation I use is the New American Standard. As you can see, this is ranked the most literal on Mardel's chart. There will always be some debate over which translation is best, but, from what I've found in personal study and in talking to various preachers, the New American Standard seems to be pretty hard to beat when it comes to a really good literal translation. 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Selecting a Bible, Part 4 (Conclusion)

*This article is posted with permission from its author, Wayne Goforth, and was published in Preceptor Magazine.

Whichever Bible you may choose, read it, love it and live it. Bibles are not lucky rabbits feet to keep around for luck, or a press for birth and death notices and 4-leaf clovers. It is God’s Word to you and me. While we are searching for individual copies of God’s Word that will last a lifetime, remember that though paper and leather are consumed by time, God’s Word will stand forever. 

1Pet 1:24-25 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Selecting a Bible, Part 3 (Premium Bibles)

*This article is posted with permission from its author, Wayne Goforth, and was published in Preceptor Magazine. 

Premium Bibles 

There are many people who delight in getting a new Bible every year or two. A new style, color, format, etc can be a nice change. Others, though, like being able to use the same Bible for many years, or even a lifetime. It becomes personal, an old friend. After all, one gets use to which side of the page a particular passage is located on, or how far over to open it to get to the book you’re about to cite. Only a very few companies are trying to fill that niche. Like many preachers, I go through a new one about every five years. Not by choice, mind you, but because of falling apart from low quality and heavy use. If there is such a thing as “preacher Bibles” these would be the ones.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Selecting a Bible, Part 2 (Quality Levels)

*This article is posted with permission from its author, Wayne Goforth, and was published in Preceptor Magazine. 

Mass Market Bibles 

Certainly not everyone needs (or wants) a Bible that will last a lifetime. Many enjoy getting new ones regularly. And if that keeps them excited about God’s Word then that is wonderful. There are always new covers and styles coming out. Some are engraved with your favorite sports team logos, or the insignia of a branch of the military. These can make thoughtful gifts and awards. Generally these are not as expensive and thus not as well made (what point if geared to those wanting a new one frequently?). The binding is usually glued with little to no stitching. But, not every tool is a screwdriver, and all bibles will not be used the same way. There are waterproof bibles for your tackle box; pink ones with butterflies for your 8 year old daughter’s birthday and a camo one for your son’s first deer.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Selecting a Bible, Part 1 (What You Should Know)

Today I'm going to share the first of an excellent four-part series of articles by Wayne Goforth, who examines the physical construction of Bibles, and their pros and cons. If you're considering purchasing a new Bible, read this series beforehand! It introduces you to terms you should know when shopping for a Bible, and looks at the various quality levels to choose from, depending on your needs and budget. 

Selecting a Bible, Part 1
*This article is posted with permission from its author, Wayne Goforth, and was published in Preceptor Magazine. 

Many articles have been written over the years concerning various translations of the Bible available. Which ones are good and reliable, which should be avoided like the plague, the specific errors or positive qualities, etc of each. This series, however, views the physical construction of Bibles and the pros and cons of them. This is the result of research, interviews with the publishers themselves, having a book binder to examine samples, and examining or even dissecting scores of various editions that were generously supplied to better understand the process of the manufacturing of Bibles in order to help others find the Bibles that meet their individual needs. Delving into this was limited to only certain translations, to insure a true comparing of apples-to-apples…KJV, NKJV, NASB and ESV.

Friday, January 29, 2010

My Favorite Websites for Bible Study & Handy Reference

e-Library Links:

  • Blue Letter Bible is my favorite online tool! You can read verses side by side in various translations (by clicking the "V" for versions box to the left of the verse), as well as finding the Strong's # to the original words used in that verse (by clicking the "C" for concordance box).
  • e-Sword a free Bible study software to download for PC users 
  • e-Sword Live use e-sword online, without downloading the program (best option for mac users) 
  • Christ Notes online Bible Search


Christian Articles: