Tuesday, April 28, 2020

How to Make Pop-Up Cards!

I don't know about you, but lately we've gotten quite a few requests to make cards for people! Our boys' school had a teacher appreciation week, my great grandpa's memory care home is asking for us to send cards to our loved ones, and our church has adopted a local nursing home to send cards to the residents!

So, when I received an invite to be a special guest on our church's daily "Lunch Break," I just had to show the kids how to make pop up cards!

Ever since the kids have been home from school, our awesome kids' pastor Matt and early childhood coordinator Natalie have been eating lunch live on Facebook, every week day from 11:30-12:00 central time. They take some time to say hi to everyone tuning in, pray for our lunch, compare what everyone's eating, tell jokes, announce birthdays, give away prizes, play games, and have special guests! (Everyone of course is welcome...you don't have to attend our church or even be a kid!) My boys and I are big fans of lunch break so they were pretty stoked that Mom was going to be on.

I showed the kids how to make three different types of pop-up cards! Since the kids at our church were sending cards to people they didn't know in the nursing home, just to make them smile, I thought it would be fun to incorporate some jokes into the cards. Of course, I had to also have a little fun with Pastor Matt and Miss Natalie as well, so I pulled some photos off the internet of them to incorporate...
 These ones above both utilize a simple mechanism that you can glue pictures to and make them pop up! The top card has one pop-up element, and the bottom one has two. Watch the video to see how to make this...it is WAY easier than you'd think!

Below are two more types of cards we did. The cowgirl joke utilizes a paper "spring" that we made, and the duck card is just one simple cut and a fold to make a fun beak!

If your kids have a particular object or animal they like to draw, just google it for jokes! I just did a Google search for "duck jokes" and "bike jokes" for these. Help your kids though, so you don't end up pulling up something inappropriate for them! ;-) One of my boys' favorite duck jokes is, "Why do ducks have feathers? To cover their butt quacks!"

My boys made cards for their grandparents too. I took a photo of Sam with his arms reaching out, he cut it out and turned it into a "hug on paper," since we couldn't hug our grandparents due to social distancing! ;-)

Click here to watch the full episode, and learn how to make three kinds of pop-up cards! Materials you'll need are:
- Paper
- Scissor
- Glue
- Something to draw with

I'm super excited to be back on Lunch Break again tomorrow, Wednesday, April 29th, where we'll be doing some really fun origami projects! These will not just be pieces of paper folded into shapes...we will be making cool things that kids can play with! Stay tuned for a recap of that one! Until then, keep smiling and be well!!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Cursive Writing + Crock Pot Tortellini

What does cursive writing and crock pot tortellini have in common? Well, nothing really. That's just how 100% of our days go as moms though, right? One minute we're having our morning coffee, a second later we're troubleshooting Zoom audio issues for a kid's school, the next we're helping our husband find his lost whatever, the next we're getting in a little bit of our own work from home, then letting the dog out, back to work, dog in, putting a band-aid on an owie, a few more minutes of work, a text from a friend, back to work, throwing in another load of laundry, some more work, take out the garbage, help with yet another Schoology issue, put dinner in the crock pot, 2 minutes of work, taking out the garbage, 2 minutes of work...needless to say I'm not getting much work done but the fires of the day now determine my schedule!

Today I decided that since my boys have been getting their schoolwork pretty much done by lunch, I'm going to use the late afternoon spots on our new quarantine whiteboard wall calendar to jot down some other to-do's they need done each day. They can still decide when to do them, which they are loving these days, but they will always have SOMETHING to do in addition to school each afternoon. This helps extend mom and dad's sorta-quiet time to get work done while they are doing things that are also productive.

Anyway, here's one thing I'm going to try to put on their list at least a few days a week...

Last year I decided my boys need to seriously learn how to read and write cursive. They do learn it still in elementary school here, but they are never made to USE it so they immediately forgot it.

Toby's notebook full of stickers!

So I printed out some cursive practice sheets online and laminated them (so they can practice with white board markers), printed out a cursive alphabet, and designated a notebook for each of them for cursive that they decorated with stickers. (I got those notebooks with the handwriting lines)

Each day (well, not every day but when I think to do it) I write a sentence on a page. I ask them to copy the sentence below it in cursive. At first I had them repeat it till they filled a page, but now I'm just writing more sentences...

It's been fun coming up with sentences to go with the day. In October I wrote something about what they were going to be for Halloween. One time I had Sam write a sentence about how awesome his mom was because she went on a field trip with his class, haha! So it's almost accidentally turned into a journal. Now instead of filling the page with repeated sentences, I'm encouraging them to do the sentence but then add on a little more to it.

Okay, yeah, I know people don't use cursive a lot anymore. But I still think they should know how to read and write it. They got to use their skill first hand last year when we took a trip to Washington, D.C. and they got to see the Declaration of Independence and other amazing, historical documents, all of course in cursive! I just tell them, at least I'm not making them use a quill pen and ink pot, haha!

SO, that was my long explanation of one thing I am putting on their extra list of stuff to do!

Today amidst juggling a zillion "mom things" and business stuff, it was "bee day!" My honeybees arrived which meant I had to drive a little over an hour one way to pick them up, and back, stopping for a curbside pickup of an order I placed online for some Easter basket goodies at Michaels. When I got home I had to make sugar syrup for the bees, then leave again to go "install" them in their hive. (Click here to see a video of me putting the bees in on my other blog!) All of this was of course done while properly social distancing! It was nice to get out of the house, be alone for a while, and listen to an audio book!

But I was gone a lot. Which meant I didn't want to get home from the bees and immediately have 3 starving guys asking what's for dinner. SO, I made one of my favorite crock pot staples, tortellini!

Crock Pot Tortellini

- 2 cans diced tomatoes (garlic/Italian flavor)
- 1.5-2 C chicken broth
- Package of tortellini (I use 2 of the shelf stable packages from Aldi)
- A bag of spinach
- one 8oz block of cream cheese
- 1 package of Italian chicken sausage

In the morning I sliced and browned the package of Italian chicken sausage and popped it back in the fridg until it was time to assemble.

Just before leaving to pick up bees I got the boys eating lunch, dumped in everything EXCEPT THE TORTELLINI. Save that for later or it'll all turn to mush! And no, you don't have to drain the tomatoes, just dump the whole can in, juices & all.

I turned it on low (for 4-6 hours) and left to go pick up the bees.

Got home, made my sugar syrup, and then dumped in the tortellini. This is important that you wait until the last TWO HOURS to put in the tortellini. So this recipe might not be great if you start it in the morning, and want to come home to dinner all done....this one works well for me because I work from home and am typically in and out throughout the day.

Okay, here is proof that I am NOT a food blogger, and that my mind is all clogged up lately with work-school-corona stuff...I forgot to take a picture of the end result. But it ends up being pasta, spinach and sausage in a yummy, creamy sauce. We scoop it into bowls and top with parmesan. I got all extra fancy with the extra 10-15 minutes I had and baked a can of crescent rolls, and pulled a few slices of chocolate cake I had stashed in the freezer back in January after a birthday party when I still had the will power to wrap up and freeze left-over cake!! :-D

Yum! That's how I survived one busy day anyway. I hope you are too, taking it one day at a time!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Pandemic Scrapbooks: Documenting a Major Life Event!

What if I had told you a month ago that in a few weeks schools all over the country would close, stores would run out of toilet paper, every event in the world for the next couple months would cancel, grocery baggers would be essential to our survival, and jigsaw puzzles would be hard to come by? You'd think I was NUTS!

Any way you look at it, the experience we're all going through right now is one for the history books! Nothing like this has happened in my lifetime before, and hopefully it won't happen again, at least for a long, long time. Because of this, I thought it might be a good idea to have my boys document this crazy time in their lives. Not only will it be helpful for them in-the-now to process their thoughts, feelings, and what they are going through, but someday it will be very cool for them to pull out a book of pictures, articles and journaling to show their kids and grandkids!!

So, one of those days when we were stuck inside on a rainy day, over spring break with no school and no place to go, I sat down and made a few pages for them to get started. I found a ring binder for each of them, slipped in a cover page, punched some holes and voila!

Click HERE to download a FREE PDF with some starter scrapbook/journal pages!

Here's what you'll find on some of the pages:

- Church and school: what's different and what's the same?
- A list of things to do if I get bored
- What I've been doing to pass time
- Page to list the movies we've watched & books we've read
- Picture pages to glue in photos of family fun or draw pictures
- Space to write what's making you happy and what's making you frustrated/sad

Working on their books out on the deck yesterday

I designed these sheets to have space on the left edge for hole punching. This way you can stick them in any binder, and it'll be easy to add to them, or punch holes in articles or other things you'd like to include. The back sides can be blank for more writing, drawing, or space to glue things!

What else can you stick in your scrapbook? 

Punch holes in some thicker paper for gluing things to. My boys wanted to add some of the funny memes that have been floating around Facebook lately, too. Here are a couple of their favorites:

Print out some photos of their new e-learning space in the house, maybe an email from a teacher about their school schedule, or a photo of them having a Zoom meeting with their friends!

I actually started my OWN scrapbook too...normally if I do a big trip I find a little blank journal to glue things into and jot down what we did or saw each day. It helps me remember the order of things and names of places/attractions, for when I later make a photo book. I would have done this right now, as I was originally scheduled to travel to Europe to teach at a face & body art convention in the Netherlands, which was of course cancelled. We were going to spend a few days in Italy! So, since I had a blank book in the house I started my own for this new "trip" we are all on! In mine I'm gluing in photos of empty store shelves too, newspaper articles, the post card we received in the mail with the president's recommendations, etc.

These are things we would not normally have the time to do, but I think one day the boys will enjoy looking back on this and having something to show their own kids!


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