Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kid's Craft...Felt Funny Faces

I love doing art projects with felt. It's cheap, colorful, and you can do just about anything with it. When Stinker was little, I made Felt Cookies for her to decorate, and she still pulls it out to play with on occasion. Since Junior has been learning the body parts in speech therapy, I thought it would be fun to make a felt face game for him to practice naming facial features.

You'll want to get a bunch of different colors of felt...each piece is only about $0.20, and different colors makes it more fun, I think.

Start by cutting a head shape out of a light colored piece of felt...I just free drew it, so it's a little off, but the kids shouldn't notice =) 

Then, cut out a bunch of shapes for the eyes, nose, ears, hair, mouth, and miscellaneous (eyebrows, earrings, mustache, etc). I did a half dozen of each body part in various colors. The mix and match is fun. Divide each type of facial feature into different baggies if you want, or just put them all in one big bag and let the kids design away! The results are fun...and sometimes a little creepy...but I love watching my kids be creative!

After they've designed their face, encourage your child to name his or her character, and tell a story about their character.


Browse my other Kid's Craft Projects

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book Review: Get to Know Jesus

As a homeschooling mom, I'm always on the lookout for good books I can use in my curriculum. Zonderkidz Publishers has just come out with a set of historical biographies of Biblical figures that go perfectly with our Bible curriculum. There are biographies about Jesus, Mary, Paul, and King David. I decided to review Jesus.

This book is geared towards children aged 6-10. It's a smaller book (normal kid sized paperback) full color, and includes maps, photos of artifacts, and artists renditions of Jesus' life and ministry. It is 122 pages, and includes a Bibliography and a list of additional reading for kids to learn more about the times of Jesus.

I love how the biography of Jesus starts before he was born...with original sin, the ups and downs of the Jewish people, and our need for a Savior. Then, it goes into the birth of Jesus, followed by His childhood, ministry on earth, His death and resurrection, and finally His role in the Book of Revelation. Each chapter includes Biblical accounts of Jesus' life, as well as historical accounts (ie. Josephus), and scholarly interpretations. There is also a glossary of words that kids might not understand, and other really useful and interesting information about the times of Jesus.

I loved all the color photos and maps. Stinker stayed engaged, and I think as she gets older, these books will help her as she learns more about the context of History, and how Scripture ties into world history. My only complaint is that many of the photos came from Wikimedia, which is part of the Wikipedia chain of websites. Knowing how unreliable Wikipedia can be, I am hesitant about the photos from Wikimedia. However,  I will probably purchase the other books in this series, since I really enjoyed it, and it will be useful for our homeschool journey.

Bottom Line 8.5*/10*

Thank you to ZonderKidz Publishers and BookLook Bloggers for a complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to post a favorable review, and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

5 Ways to Save Money on a Family Vacation

Family Vacations should be an exciting time filled with wonderful memories and shared experiences. It should be a time of joy, and not worrying about the financial side of things. To get the most out of your vacation, try some of these money saving tips!

1. Set a Budget and Give Yourself Wiggle Room
-The first thing you'll want to do when planning a vacation is to set a budget. This should be a budget for everything, not just the travel and lodging expenses. You'll want to make sure you plan on the cost of meals, gas, and souvenirs. If you max out your budget on the hotel, you'll stress out every time you go to dinner or have to tip someone.

2. Start Planning Early...and Keep Checking
-For our last vacation, I started planning about 4 months before our travel dates. I kept an eye on airfare and hotels for several weeks before booking anything.  I looked for lodging coupon codes on Retailmenot and looked around for seasonal deals. We purchased a travel package when I was convinced the price was at its lowest, about 3 months before our travel dates, but purchased the additional insurance for our trip in case we found a better deal. I'm glad we did! About 6 weeks before our vacation, I repriced the entire package and it was $500 cheaper. So I canceled and rebooked. It was a bit of a hassle, but we saved $500 that would pay for our meals while traveling.

3. Find a Hotel with Free Breakfast and Pack Lunches
-Whenever we travel, we look for hotels that offer complimentary breakfast, then purchase lunch items--such as lunch meat, bread, chips, and water at Costco when we arrive and store them in the room mini fridge. Then we're only paying for one meal every day. The savings really adds up.

4. Look for Local Coupons and Check Online Reviews
-Before you go, check Groupon or Living Social for any local restaurants or activities you can save on. You can also check Yelp or other review sites for out-of-the-way restaurants that may charge less than touristy areas, and local favorite activities that aren't overpriced.

5. Consider Souvenirs Carefully
-Souvenirs can really eat away at the budget. And usually, these little trinkets end up broken or misplaced, being little more than wasted money. One of my favorite souvenirs is to take lots of pictures, then create a photo book when we get home. It's something the kids can look through over and over again, and we can relive the memories without wasting any money.  

Finally, Enjoy Your Family Time, No Matter Where You End Up
-The point of a family vacation is to enjoy the time together no matter what your budget is. By planning ahead and giving yourself wiggle room in your budget, you can enjoy your time without worrying about how much you're spending, since you've already planned on the expense. And when you've removed the stress, you're free to create wonderful, lifelong memories.

What is your favorite way to save on vacation? Let me know in the comments!

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Book Review: A Table by the Window

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 
While I love a good Christian fiction book that I can really get into, cookbooks are my second favorite book genre. So, when I had the opportunity to read Hillary Manton Lodge's book that weaves fiction with cooking, A Table by the Window, I immediately took it. 

The novel begins in present day Portland, Oregon, where food writer Juliette D'Alisa and her family are grieving the loss of Juliette's French grandmother. Her grandmother was a highly acclaimed pastry chef, and willed her prep table to Juliette. While looking through the table, Juliette finds an old and interesting photograph--a photo of her grandmother with a man who has a striking family resemblance but isn't her grandfather. She sets out to find the truth behind the photograph and her family history, choosing to keep the photo a secret from her 4 siblings and parents.

While she's on this path to self-realization, Juliette agrees to help her brother Nico open a new restaurant. Juliette's mother, a Frenchwoman and her father, an Italian, have a successful restaurant, but Nico wants to open his own restaurant with his sister. 

Disheartened by the burdens of life, Juliette strikes up a long distance relationship with immunologist Neil, who encourages her to forge her own path through life. What does this mean to Juliette, and how can her grandmother's secrets help her discover her true calling?

A Table by the Window book was a fun read. I really liked the characters, and as someone who is part-French, part-Italian herself, I really related to some of the family gathering scenes. There were about a dozen recipes the author included at the end of select chapters, (some of which look very tasty, though time consuming), and I found myself really invested in Juliette's future. I rooted for her to find herself, and felt sad when she was struggling, as though she was a real person and not a fictional character.

As for critiques, each chapter begins with a quote, and I found this to really mess with the continuity of the book. It distracted me from the story as I had to switch gears between scenes and think about a quote. The book also used the word "cool" way too much. I know people say "cool" in normal conversation, but the characters said it a lot. I'm sure there are plenty of synonyms the author could have used to diversify a bit.

The book ends really suddenly...but luckily, the author provided an excerpt from her next novel in the series, Reservations for Two, which is supposed to be released next year. I plan to read the next book, since I really want to know what happens in Juliette's quest for the truth and her own personal happiness.

Bottom Line: 7*/10*

Thank you to Blogging for Books and Waterbrook Press for my free review copy of this book. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Friday, July 11, 2014

An Update on Junior...Summer 2014


We've been continuing twice a week speech therapy with auditory verbal therapy with Junior this summer, but have taken a break from occupational therapy until the Fall, and may begin physical therapy when we resume as well. The few OT sessions we've had have already helped his balance and his sensory issues, and his speech is really improving!

He's 25 months, but has been implanted for 16 months, so his speech capabilities are expected to be around that of a typically developing 16 month old. At his last assessment, he understands over a hundred words and phrases, and can say 50 words, including a couple of sentences! "Daddy" is still his favorite word, and "Hi Daddy" is his sentence of choice. Occasionally he'll mix it up and say "Hi doggy" or "Hi Gramma" when he sees a familiar face, but Daddy is his best buddy.

Some new words he's started saying recently:
-Apple...this one is super obvious. A stranger could hear it and know he's saying apple!
-Stuck..."uh oh. Stuck." is the phrase he uses when he can't reach a toy or when he can't get my hidden chocolate stash out of it's hiding place =)
-Owie...every time someone or something gets hurt, he runs up and gives it a kiss while saying "owie". I love seeing his caring personality emerging.
-Stink...this comes out sounding like "ning", but he's beginning to tell us when he needs a diaper change. I'm thinking potty training may be in the near future!
-Drawing...Junior loves to draw (occasionally on my walls), and proudly announces that he's daww-eeee" (drawing).

The next step in Junior's progress will be continuing to strengthen his vocabulary. There are two types of vocabulary we're aiming to increase...receptive and expressive. Receptive vocabulary are the words and phrases he understands, and it comes along quicker than expressive language which are the words and phrases he can actually associate with something and say out loud. We're hoping his expressive language hits a major growth spurt soon, and that he starts stringing lots of words together to make sentences.

Besides his therapies, Junior has been enjoying a lot of time in the water this summer. We opted for a waterproof cochlear implant so he can hear while he's swimming, and he's definitely a water baby. He never wants to leave the pool, and yells "bahhhhh" when we're driving by the beach.

Stinker adores her little brother, and is very protective of him. They like to snuggle up on the couch and watch Frozen together. It's so heartwarming, and I'm so grateful to be at the point where I wouldn't change anything about Junior's challenges, since he's so perfect just the way God made him.

Have you read Junior's story?

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