Thursday, May 24, 2012

Changing this post...

(I'm changing the title of this post because this post is getting spammed between 20 and 30 times a day. All because I linked up to a website. Sheesh! So instead of deleting the entire thing, I'm going to try and change the title and hope it doesn't get spammed anymore. Or else I'll have to painstakingly move the entire post over to a new post...which I will only do as a last resort. Yes, I know I haven't posted since May. The second half of 2012 wasn't too kind to me. My crafting business is hurting horribly and issues with my son have taken priority. Hopefully in 2013 I'll be able to come back and actually SHOW stuff on here.)
Its the end of the school year. This is my first "end of school year" as a mom. My 3.5 year old son attends an every-day developmental delay preschool at the local elementary. Which means I've been enjoying 2.5 hours every morning by myself, then continuing to enjoy a naptime most afternoons. I'm sure my husband would disagree with me on the necessity of all this "mommy alone time"...but considering the remainder of the day my energetic and destructive son runs me completely ragged, I've been counting on these hours to recuperate and ready myself for the next onslaught of three-year-old terror.

The next statement is full of irony. "Fortunately", my son has qualified for extended school year, and will visit with his class teacher and his therapists for 1.5 hours, three times a week, for six weeks over the summer. I put quotations around "fortunately" because it is ironic. Basically I'm saying its fortunate that he's still so delayed that he qualifies for the maximum amount of time during the summer. Now, I will say that his improvement over the past few months has been amazing. I am so unbelievably grateful that my school district has these services and that they even have a summer program. I was concerned that we might lose steam over the summer with his progress, and he might revert back to not-so-stellar behavior (we've recently made the oh-so-successful switch from w-sitting to 'criss-cross-applesauce', which I'm sure all your moms or educators out there know exactly what I'm talking about!!). So I am relieved that he'll continue to work with the educators he already enjoys and trusts...and that I'll get a small break a few days a week. Even if its just to clean up the mass destruction that we generally have each day in our house. Because let me tell you: I am NOT one of "those mothers" who has a spotless house. I enjoy playing with my kid. I enjoy letting him experiment with messes. We also have three pets, two of which shed like its going out of style. So please, come visit my house. Just don't eat off my floor. Or adhere to the five-second rule, whichever floats your boat. :)

On to a project!!

One of my son's paraprofessional aides is retiring after 32 years of service. She considered my son to be one of her "babies", and worked with him every day. She did such a phenomenal job with him!! I already bestowed countless teacher gifts during teacher appreciation week (which would be for another post, because all EIGHT of my son's various teachers/aides/therapists received gifts every day all week), but wanted to do something special for this aide on her last day. So I made her a set of stationery.

I have a confession to make: I am a designer series paper hoarder. Not even joking. I have paper that hasn't even been OPENED from 2007. You know its old Stampin' Up stuff when it isn't double sided!!! I have kept every single Simply Scrappin' kit, whether it be retired colors or not. The thought of throwing any of this away scares me.

BUT, seeing as how I love soooooo much of the new paper, I have made it my goal to get rid of some of my old stuff. The paper I used for this is from an old pack called "Jersey Shore". Now, I think its at least 3 years old...because I think that blue is Brilliant Blue, which was retired in 2010. But I did my best to match it up with current stuff. And piece of advice: don't color match using an open window. The colors will look completely different than they actually are. Because that orange?? Sooooo NOT Tangerine Tango. Oy.

I found a template for the box on another blog, and now I can't remember whose! I think it was Sharon Armstrong, but I'm not sure. I'll look and see if I can find it. Anyway, her original box template was for the regular Stampin' Up envelopes, and I honestly didn't think anything of it. I just made one, popped it together, then attemped to put one of the envelopes I made using the Simply Scored Diagonal Tool in there. This was how I figured out that the Diagonal Tool envelopes are BIGGER than normal SU envelopes. Live and Learn! Anyway, the box measurements are 9 1/4 x 7 3/4 (bottom) and 8 3/8 x 6 7/8. Score the bottom at 1.5" on all four sides, and the top at 1" on all four sides. Cut the corners, adhere, and there you go. :)

I figured this was as good of a time as any to use some of the outgoing items. You know, I seriously JUST bought that ribbon punch, and I'm sooo bummed its retiring! Also allowed me to use Curvy Verses, which is one of my all time favorite sets. I've had it since I first started buying Stampin' Up years ago. I think it was one of my first sets I purchased.

Not only was this a good time to play with retiring things, it gave me an opportunity to pull out some of my new stuff that I received from my preorder this week! All the sentiments were stamped in Midnight Muse, one of the new in-colors. I'm sure you've heard that Stampin' Up has redesigned all of their ink pads. The containers are the same, just the pad has changed. The new pad is called a "firm foam pad". It is sort of spongy, and definitely has a better ink coverage than the previous pad. When I first stamped with it, I felt that the ink was more like the craft pads. You do NOT have to push down hard with your stamp! You can lightly tap it on the stamp pad to get awesome coverage.

Also wanted to use up some of the retiring grosgrain ribbon, since I have a gazillion rolls of it. This is Whisper White grosgrain. Not even kidding. I dragged it through the Midnight Muse stamp pad, and boy did it take that ink!! (note to self: Midnight Muse ink does not come off fingers easily. When dying ribbon, WEAR GLOVES!!)

Here is the envelope assortment. I'm loving the new diagonal tool, and how easy it will be to make custom envelopes that will be a joy to send. Imagine how awesome it will be to open your mail, full of crappy bills and adverts you don't want, and then find a happy envelope like this! I'd be smiling already. :)

After this marathon project, my craft room/guest room looked like this. Glad no guests were coming...because it still looks like this. My goal tomorrow is to clean it up if my son lets me. The cutest part of this was clearing off half of the table so my son could play with his playdoh while I crafted. Every now and again I had to get into the playdoh too...strictly for educational purposes, of course. :)

My littlest helper. We rescued this kitty on Christmas Eve. We were at a stop light while visiting relatives in Dallas, and we could hear horrid meowing coming from the car next to us. A kitten had climbed up into the engine block to get warm, and then had taken a precarious ride for over 20 miles on INTERSTATE before getting to that stoplight. I got ahold of him and he immediately started purring. Apparently since I was the first to hold him, he and I have established a bond. He follows me pretty much everywhere. He's sitting on the back of my chair as I type this. His name is Blitzen, since we found him at Christmas. We also refer to him as Houdini, since he manages to get out of every collar we put on him, the "cone of shame" that was on him after he was declawed and neutered a few weeks ago, and THREE different wrappings on his paws on the day we brought him home after the declaw.

I officially live in a zoo.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Finally something to post!

You just never realize how AWFUL it is to survive without a camera until your only one breaks and you can't afford to buy a new one. :( Seriously, a camera phone should NOT be what you depend on for craft pics, preschooler pics, and everything else. I needed a REAL camera, really badly! Fortunately my birthday is coming up in a few weeks, so I convinced my dad to go halfsies on a new camera with me. I'm the proud new owner of the Nikon p500 superzoom. I really wanted the Canon SX40, but it was $100 more...and the Nikon came with a case and a 3-year warranty. Now I will say that it seems out of the case the Canon is easier to work with, while I'm shooting a lot of things multiple times because the Nikon doesn't have the best image stabilization out there. But I'll figure it out. If only I could get my 3-year-old to sit still. :)

So I've had the camera for a month now, but haven't had a chance to post anything because both my son and I have been really sick. He came down with strep throat and pink eye at the same have to love preschools and all their germs. I got a severe sore throat and thought it was the same thing, but kept testing negative. Suddenly I had a debilitating cough and my doctor couldn't figure out what was wrong. Ironically, it seems all of my issues were related to acid reflux, which I've had pretty bad since my son was born (another awesome perk of pregnancy!). Now I'm on a daily med for that. Still can't get rid of the cough completely...the acid came up and irritated my throat, tonsils and adenoids so severely that at one point I couldn't swallow. It was really bad.

On to some new projects! I had a stamp camp last weekend with two other demonstrators. All of the projects featured now extinct Sale-A-Bration products...but seriously, I'm sure most of you picked up the paper pack in SAB because it is completely adorable. One of my favorite DSP packs EVER.

Hard to see, but the squewers are actually going through Snickers bars. And everything was colored with markers. The smaller "stamps" are actually just from one stamp, the "Packed for Birthday" stamp. We just picked out sections, colored it, then punched it out with a 1" circle punch. Easy Peasy! And the stuffing is actually the packing paper from SU...sent through a shredder. Awesome way to reuse something!!

This is one of my favorite projects we did at the stamp camp. It is made completely of name binder holders! Its the perfect size to do a mini scrapbook and keep in your purse. We punched extra holes in the ends to tie more ribbon on.

I am in the process of putting all my photos in. I'm loving having this little scrapbook I can carry around to show people what I actually "do", as well as have a reminder of my cutie preschooler. :) I don't intend to add too much extra stuff, because it will become too big and bulky. I like how small and compact it is. And the colors are so doggone cheerful. Who would have thought I'd end up absolutely LOVING Lucky Limeade?? I thought that would be the one color I wouldn't use...and its in almost everything I make these days!!

Come back again soon for more projects! We did an awesome butterfly frame, a way to sneak Stampin' Up into herb gardening, andother amazing projects. Cool stuff!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Without a camera...

You have no idea how hard it is to live without a digital camera. Yes, my phone has a camera...but its not the same!! My wonderful Canon Powershot that I've had for almost 6 years bit the dust on the first night of Stampin' Up Leadership about a month ago. Seriously...the first.freakin.night. How ill-timed is that?!?!

Fortunately the gals I went with took a bazillion photos so I was able to get some copies of their shots to continue to live blissfully within the joy of SU Leadership. :)

Wouldn't this be a great teacher gift?? Crazy what people can make out of paper!

Beautiful fabric pillows. This fabric will be released later this year. Our Leadership bags were made out of this fabric..and I get compliments on the bag every time I'm out with it. In fact, a recent hostess tried to steal the bag from me. :)

Beautiful roommate gift from my up-upline. Made entirely out of border punches...can you believe that???

We were challenged to create a book using the art journals in the catalog. This was one example that was shown. I'm such a sucker for butterflies.

Isn't this gorgeous?? This was one of the sets we received at Leadership. Now I just need to get my greedy little hands on that punch...

Isn't this amazing!!! On March 1st customers can purchase a Diagonal tool insert that fits on top of the Score Tool. It will allow you to make boxes like these with absolutely no cutting! The diagonal tool will also allow you to make beautiful envelopes and packages using designer series paper. Just another thing I can't wait to get ahold of. :)

I sure do wish my camera didn't break when it did. Seriously, it was the first night of Leadership, I was walking around after the make-and-take session and was only able to snap about 50 photos of displays before it started making this completely heinous sound and then the lense jammed and wouldn't go back into the camera. I even hit up a professional photographer there to see what he thought, and he basically said, "buy a new camera." So I'm currently pricing new ones and trying to decide which will be the best option for me.

Some of the pictures above showcase Occasions Mini catalog materials as well as Sale-A-Bration materials. If you haven't received these catalogs yet, contact me and I'll get them to you! Remember, for every $50 you spend, you'll receive one FREE item in the Sale-A-Bration catalog! Great time to stock up!

Stampin' Up announced at Leadership that the catalog program will be revamped this year. Gone is the summer mini catalog, and the two remaining "mini" catalogs will be bigger (both in size and pages) and last longer (five months instead of four). Also the main catalog will change on June 1st instead of July 1st. I encourage you to look at your stock now to see what items you might need, because accessories, embellishments, and In Color items go FAST. The current 2010-2012 In Colors will retire effective May 31st. Stock up NOW!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Tot School is hard with tantrums

Man Alive.

My child has seriously exhausted me the last 18 days. 18 days since he attended his normal 2.5 hour preschool. That is 432 hours...not that I'm counting or anything. But he has been a NIGHTMARE all the time. Seriously! I have a behavior chart with a bunch of tasks, one of which is whining. I haven't been able to give him a star for not whining since putting the chart up. In early December.

My son is 39 months, or 3 years, 3 months (for those of you who wish to keep your addition/multiplication/division at a minimum unless doing helping your kid with his homework). When he was just shy of hitting the 2-year-mark, I was trying to convince my husband to start trying for another baby. Then C hit the terrible two's. And that just never stopped. Needless to say, I think if C becomes a big brother, he might be in kindergarten by the time I give birth. And he has a late birthday, so kindergarten is 2.5 years away. :)

Needless to say, the pics are slightly chaotic. Its hard to take pictures when your child is having a full on kicking-and-screaming tantrum and throwing things at you. Oh yeah, my kid's a thrower. I'm proud. Especially of the red dry erase marker line on my arm after he barely missed my face earlier.

One great thing I did was buy a large dry erase board and hang it on the wall. Its basically right above the trim so my son can either stand, kneel, or sit and fiddle on the board. I bought a bunch of different colored glass gems (hit up the floral department of Hobby Lobby: lots of times they are 50% off and you can get them for only a couple bucks). Then I bought some circular magnets and glued them on. The gems typically have a rough back which means the magnet tape won't stick on them perfectly, so I just add some gorilla glue...those suckers aren't going anywhere. :)

My goal has been that C enjoy playing with these things, but also learning about shapes, colors, and following directions. So I would draw a line or shape and ask him to put the magnets ON or IN the shape. He didn't much care for putting the magnets on the line, but loved outlining the star. Go figure! (my mom told me today that, duh, a line is soooo not fun. Shapes are more fun. Umm, okay.)

Over the weekend, in an attempt to get a cute idea that would involve a lot of creativity on his part, I drew a snowman shape and had him glue cotton balls onto the shape. To say he was THRILLED with the glue stick would be an understatement! But, do you know how hard it is to explain to a 3-year-old how a glue stick shouldn't be jammed into the carpet? Note to self: glue sticks only given AT THE TABLE.

According to C, a snowman doesn't need two eyes. It needs a gazillion, all over its body. And one on its arm.

Due to his enthusiasm with the snowman, I quickly just ripped up a piece of paper and asked him to glue them onto a new main piece of paper.

I have to admit, this required more of my husband and I than my son. He really just wanted to play with the glue stick. He, of course, had a tantrum when I took the glue stick away.

Looking for a cheap toy? This one can't be beat! Take a drink container (this is the WalMart version of Crystal Light). Cut a small hole in the lid. Put a $.99 container of small pom poms in. Give to your kid. Watch the fun.

C is in love with anything that requires dumping and then putting back into containers. That is why I can say he's actually quite good at cleaning up toys. He loves to put stuff back. He's now started helping us empty the dishwasher...obviously we only give him his plastic cups, bowls and plates to put away. But he thinks he's pretty cool helping out.

Dump 'em out, put 'em back in. Awesome fun! (excuse the horrible glare off the tv, my husband was searching the schedule for something to DVR).

Very intrigued with the lid and the hole. I made the hole slightly smaller than the pom poms, because I wanted him to have to WORK to get the pom poms into the container. This is a great task for working on fine motor development. He also loves taking the lid off and putting it back on, another good thing for fine motor skills. Our dog apparently felt the need to get involved. If you think he's big, you'll enjoy knowing he's not even 9 months old yet. The vet who told me he would "only" be 40-50 pounds is full of it! I can't even lift him anymore, I think he's at least 60 pounds.

Capping off the week with more dry erase board fun. C is definitely left-handed, so I positioned all of his magnet letters on the right so he has more than enough room to draw and be crazy with the markers. His favorite color to work with is definitely red.

Some other activities we completed this week but didn't get pictures of included working more in our Toddler Book letter A stuff, playing with stickers in a lined notebook I've decided is only for his stickers (another great fine motor game!), painted with water colors and paint daubers (my water baby was much more enthralled with the small container of water I had on the table for the watercolors...although he didn't quite understand why the water wouldn't show up with the amazing colors I could produce when I actually painted correctly. :). My camera had a coniption fit and "locked" for some reason, so I couldn't take pictures for a few days. Him working with the Letter A stuff is pretty cute. I've decided to hold off on printing the Letter B packet, and instead printed the Winter Tot Pack and The Snowy Day printables...I just have to get to a bookstore to buy the book. :) Or, incontinuing my desire to stay cheap, maybe I'll see if the library has it.

For next week, C GOES BACK TO SCHOOL!!!! Oh Joy. Now, I know there are moms out there who will be aggravated with me for being excited about that. But he goes to a fantastic preschool within the local elementary. Their resources are things I could NEVER give him. I'm not trained in physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. ALL of the ideas I've posted over the past two Tot School posts have been things I've found online. The preschool also means my son has fantastic opportunities to engage with other children. He has a "best friend" in the classroom, who is the same height and blonde like him. Its really quite cute.

Having him in school also means I will have more time to devote to a couple of at-home jobs I do. I sell Stampin' Up, as well as write for a couple of local newspapers. It brings in a little extra money, which means I get to stay home with C and not have to think about him being in full time care. Plus, my son LOVES school. He loves the way they make him think, the fun activities they do, and the great amenities that my house just doesn't have. They have a big gym with lots of toys and whatnot, plus a P.T./O.T. room with swings, gym pads, and lots more. The improvement he's made since beginning preschool in mid-October is phenomenal. I'm so glad we live in the place we do, and that his teacher chose to come back to preschool developmental delay when she did. Having 2.5 hours by myself each day isn't bad either. :) 

This post is linked up with Tot School over at 1+1+1=1. Amazing stuff over there! Lots of the printables we work with were from there!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Another change...

(I'm changing the title of this post because this post is getting spammed between 20 and 30 times a day. All because I linked up to a website. Sheesh! So instead of deleting the entire thing, I'm going to try and change the title and hope it doesn't get spammed anymore. Or else I'll have to painstakingly move the entire post over to a new post...which I will only do as a last resort. Yes, I know I haven't posted since May. The second half of 2012 wasn't too kind to me. My crafting business is hurting horribly and issues with my son have taken priority. Hopefully in 2013 I'll be able to come back and actually SHOW stuff on here.)
This post will be quite a bit different from anything I've ever posted before. As this blog is typically used for crafty purposes, its a big departure to focus on toddler/preschool learning!

Quick update on our situation. C is 39 months old. He has a genetic condition called Velocardiofacial Syndrome, meaning a section of the 22nd chromosome is missing. 90% of these cases (1 out of every 2000 births) are just chance. The other 10% are genetically passed down from a parent. C now has a 50% chance of passing this syndrome on to his children.

VCFS has over 180 characteristics associated with it. C doesn't have a lot of the extremely horrible ones (heart defects, kidney issues, cleft palate), but he does have low muscle tone. If you consider how many things can be effected by muscle tone, you'd realize why he's delayed. He didn't crawl until 14 months, walk until 26 months, and just within the past 2-3 months he's finally talking. The tongue is a muscle, and he's had a lot of trouble figuring out how to properly work it.

After two years of physical therapy, he's catching up quite nicely in gross motor development. Speech therapy was almost a waste of time because of a less-than-stellar therapist who seemed quite nonchalant about C's development. After adding two different therapists in 2011, he definitely improved. Now he attends a developmental delay preschool for 2.5 hours each day, and the improvement has been phenomenal!

Because of seeing his improvement, it became disgustingly clear to my husband and I that we should be giving C so many more learning opportunities at home. Thanks to the best invention in the world, Pinterest, I've found countless blogs and learning sites that have the most amazing ideas for play learning. The first one we tried over the past two weeks has been water beads.

This is what water beads actually look like to start. I found them in the fake floral aisle at WalMart, they are pretty cheap. I started with the clear ones because I wasn't sure how much they would stain...and now I realize WHY all of the blogs I peruse never show clear ones. Those suckers are hard to find! And they bounce pretty if your child misses the container, they will just roam around freely. So I don't think I'll do clear ones again. :)

You just can't experience something unless you stick your hands and arms all the way in. And C's a multi-tasker: the television was on with Sesame Street at this point. We don't miss Elmo.

To add another amazing quality, I made my own lightbox with two strands of Christmas lights and an empty sterilite container. I didn't take any photos of C actually playing at this point. I realized very quickly that the containers being the same size would be a problem: i.e., tipping over and crashing to the floor (probably taking the toddler with it). So I changed it up for the next session, and put a very large under-the-bed container as the base with the lights in it.

(Okay, this pic is soooo not mine, but how cool is this sensory table?? This was C's last day at preschool before Christmas break. I was so amazed by this, it might be something I do next year!)

Here we are playing again. Taking out of one container, and dumping into another. The water beads were such a hit, I think we played with them every day for a week! (Just a note...they will mold after time. C was devastated to see that I disposed of them today.)

One of the rather interesting characteristics C has is that he doesn't like to have sticky fingers. His teachers comment on his distaste for paint and glue. So I decided to bring out some finger paint and see what he did. He immediately went for the paint brushes, as I assumed he would.

When in doubt, two hands and two brushes are better.

Uh oh, its on his hands! What ever will he do?!?!

He began to experiment, by dipping just one finger into the paint and smooshing it onto the paper.

Now he has multiple brushes in one hand, but is feeling paint between the fingers of his left hand. :)

Success! Full-on finger/hand painting. I may have had a "hand" (har har) in this, as I forcefully gently took his hand and smooshed it into the paint, then put it onto the paper. He thought that was pretty cool.

We also began (although I don't have any pictures) the Tot School printables found on 1+1+1=1. Beginning with the letter A, I put all of the printables into clear covers in a binder and gave C some dry erase markers. He thought it was the coolest thing EVER!! It was such a big hit. C has never really been into learning things like colors and numbers...sometimes I wonder if he's hearing me, ignoring me, or just not caring about it. But these printables are really allowing me to reiterate things like colors and a general theme (the A printables all revolve around apples). Plus he likes having the control over flipping pages. My clear covers aren't the best for constant erasing, so I've purchased some heavy duty ones.

This week we will move on to the letter B. I've also began looking at the preschool packs on the 1+1+1=1 website, and have downloaded a cool one that I think C will enjoy. I'm going to try it and see if he's ready for it or not, and I might start doubling up on the toddler and preschool packs that the website has.

We've seen such amazing improvement in C over the past month. My husband and I joke that C always performs in December (crawling, walking, talking...that's the past three Decembers!!) because he wants to make a good impression on Santa. :) I really look forward to learning and growing with C throughout 2012 and helping him to catch up developmentally. Its going to be a great year!