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Monday, December 31, 2018

Top Blog Posts of 2018


It's that time of year again!  Happy New Year!  I'm looking forward to the rebranding launch of my blog tomorrow and all the amazing content I'll be bringing your way this year!  In honor of saying good-bye to one era and hello to another, I present you the top five posts of 2018!


5- 100 Disney-fied Elf Ideas
I only posted this elf-on-the-shelf list in October, and it's already one of my most popular articles.  It's got everything people love- Disney, ideas, and elves.  I had a lot of fun putting together the list and looking for all the Disney fun to add.  I anticipate adding another 100 or so in the future.




4- Free Camping Notebook
The success of posts like this one is part of why I decided to make a new blog called Party Through the USA.  At the beginning of the summer, I was posting two times a week with content for travel, which was distracting me from the purpose of this blog.  This particular post was inspired by my mom and her camping organization.  Years ago, I made her a notebook like this, but I never got around to making printables for it.  I can see that I should have done it sooner, because of how popular it is proving to be.




3- Foster to Adopt Guest Book Ideas
My adoption posts, especially the lists, are very well read (my most popular post of the entire blog is the Foster to Adopt Party Ideas).  I really need to write more about it; however even the lightest posts are very emotional for me.  There seems to be an audience for them, so perhaps I'll get a few more out into cyberspace this year.




2- 50 Travel Toys in an Altoid Tin
If you've been on this blog for a while, you know that I have an obsession with Altoid Tins.  They're my favorite way to organize and store all types of things from games and manipulatives for homeschooling to tiny toys and projects for travel.  This post from my travel blog (originally posted here) has a bunch of toy ideas all perfect for taking with you in a plane, train, or car.




1- Multiplication Battleship Game
And the number one most popular post of the year is... a homeschool printable!  A mom in one of my facebook groups asked me to put this together to help her kids practice their math facts.  The concept is simple, but the multiplication can be challenging.  Also teaches graphing with X and Y coordinates.  Look for more versions of this game in the future.




What was your favorite post this year?


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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Hope the Elf's Adventures- Part 3

Elf on the Shelf 2018 // In Our Pond // christmas // holidays // winter // elf

This is the last batch of pictures from our 2018 Christmas season.  Our Barbie-who-identifies-as-an-elf worked pretty well.  I wish I had planned her visit a bit more; although I didn't do everything that my kids were hoping I'd do (nuts to crack, a cookie scavenger hunt, and a few more).  They're always so sad to see the elves go.  Maybe I'll bring them back for a month of kindness in February (or maybe just 2 weeks).  We'll have to see what happens (wink).

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Hope the Elf's Adventures- Part 2

Hope the Elf on the Shelf Alternative's Christmas Adventures // In Our Pond

Every day, my husband refuses to look at the elf set up I've done because he enjoys being surprised every morning.  It makes me think that I should do more silly or surprising things throughout the year, especially since I'm usually up later than him.  This is the second installment of our elf adventures for the year.  The first set of pictures can be found by clicking on the picture below.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Meet Hope- Our Elf on the Shelf Alternative

Meet Hope- Our Elf on the Shelf Alternative // In Our Pond // elf on the shelf // Christmas // buddy the elf


Many feel like the official red-suited Elf-on-the-Shelf is slightly creepy.  Others don't like him because of his spy backstory.  When I chose JOY two years ago, I wanted a doll that had a Christmas look, but was cuter and more friendly than the official Elf.  I also liked that her outfit was non-traditional colors.  Her soft clothes and body invited snuggling (in fact, Dragonfly has been begging me for 3 years to let her have the doll to keep).  She has had many adventures with our family, but my expectations for an elf have changed during that time.  As Christmas approaches, I find myself in the market for a different kind of elf, one better suited to interesting scenarios.  Which led me on a wild Pinterest search for ideas.

I ran into this inspiring blog post, where the mom took a Disney Fairy doll and turned her into a girly elf.  She clipped the wings, then took a Dollar Store sock and made the "cold weather" accessories.  I love how simple the project was for her, and how the doll looks warm, cute, and custom.  The doll is also full-articulated, which is so wonderful for posing the doll in elf scenes.  Unfortunately, the doll doesn't stand on her own feet, limiting her range of poses.

I loved the fairy doll ideas, but I needed to find a figurine that could stand.  I had no idea how rare that concept was in the doll world.  My search led us to the Made-to-Move Barbie doll.  I hadn't really wanted to use the Barbie, but I loved the 22 points of articulation and her ability to stand up on her own.  Another bonus about using a Barbie is the large amount of store-bought accessories and craft tutorials for the twelve-inch size.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Christmas at Our House, Warm Memories

Christmas Memories // Homeschooling My Kinetic Kids

I'm not sure what it is about this year, maybe it's my kids' ages or my age, but I'm feeling very nostalgic this year.  I've been forcing my children to listen to the albums from my childhood, songs like Christmas at Our House by Barbara Mandrell, Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant, and Christmas Like a Lullaby by John Denver.  Listening to those songs instantly takes me back to all the chaos, excitement, and memories of twenty years ago (does that mean I'm old?).  For today's post, I'm hoping you'll indulge me as I walk through Christmas of yesteryear.

Christmas Memories // Homeschooling My Kinetic Kids // cookie making with family

My parents have been married for thirty-six years and have a strong marriage, but for some reason, Christmas highlights their differences, at least in my memories.  My mom is an organized, type-A woman with a plan and a gift-giving matrix.  When we were kids, her list, and sometimes her buying, was done before Thanksgiving many years.  On the contrast, my dad's shopping was often done Christmas Eve.  I have some very warm memories of madly dashing through stores to do last minute buying.  Sometimes, my dad would randomly pick up a gift for one of us kids (not necessarily on Christmas Eve) and throw my mom's entire matrix and plan into chaos.

During December, both parents made cut out cookies with their kids.  When mom was a work and dad was in charge, we'd spend the day making a huge, chaotic mess with all five kids in the kitchen.  After making a batch of dough without a recipe and climbing over each other to cut out the cookies, Dad would start flinging frosted cookies on our plates for us to decorate.  Making the cookie look nice was not the goal- instead we threw sprinkles on it as quickly as possible and moved on to the next one.  There was flour, frosting, and colored sugar everywhere!  Dad always had the kitchen cleaned up and often dinner started/made before my mom came home.

When it was mom's turn to make cookies with us, she put on a movie and called us into the kitchen one at a time.  Everything was neat and orderly.  I learned how to use the back of the knife to level off the measuring cup (not that I ever do that now) and sift the flour to make it fluffy.  We wore an apron, washed our hands a lot, and took turns.

After both batches of cookies were done, we took a huge bowl of them in the car and drove through the city to look at Christmas lights.  It was always so magical to see how even traffic lights blinked a festive red and green.  We'd see Santa's going down chimneys and blow up snowmen, sleighs filled with presents and babes in mangers.  As we rode along, eating cookies and talking about what we had seen, we also sang Christmas songs.  I remember a lot of Rudolph.

Christmas at our house

Some things have changed
Faces and numbers have rearranged
Giggles of children
Staying up late
I'd say old Santa has gained some weight
Mama's baking in the kitchen
Daddy's chopping firewood
Raisin cookies I'm still snitching
Christmas is good
Reaching out to help a neighbor
That's the way is always was
We knew Jesus our Savior
Christmas at our house still does
Christmas at our house is love





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Warm Christmas Memories // Homeschooling My Kinetic Kids // Christmas cookies with family




Christmas Memories // Homeschooling My Kinetic Kids // Warm memories with family // Baking cookies with siblings



Thursday, December 13, 2018

45 Ways to Play During Winter Break

45 Ways to Play During Winter Break // Homeschooling My Kinetic Kids // Keeping Kids Busy During Christmas // Slime Recipes // Play Dough // Sensory Bins // Handwriting Practice // Snow Play // Pinterest

It's only a few more weeks until Christmas!  Even if you don't celebrate that particular day, many schools and homeschool groups have a Winter Break around New Year's Day.  If you're anything like me, you're probably stuck at home with stir-crazy kids.  There's not enough snow to motivate them to go outside and they're just SO excited about presents that they can hardly contain themselves.  I'm finding myself on Pinterest searching for things to do with the kids and ways to keep them busy.  When I called on my friends at the Kid Blogger Network, I ended up with this awesome list!



Christmas Slime // 45 Ways to Play During Winter Break // Homeschooling My Kinetic Kids // Keeping Kids Busy During Christmas // Slime Recipes // Play Dough // Sensory Bins // Handwriting Practice // Snow Play










Slime Shopping Guide




Christmas Sensory Bins // 45 Ways to Play During Winter Break // Homeschooling My Kinetic Kids // Keeping Kids Busy During Christmas // Slime Recipes // Play Dough // Sensory Bins // Handwriting Practice // Snow Play










Sensory Bin Toys




Christmas Themed Writing Fun // 45 Ways to Play During Winter Break // Homeschooling My Kinetic Kids // Keeping Kids Busy During Christmas // Slime Recipes // Play Dough // Sensory Bins // Handwriting Practice // Snow Play










Trays for Writing Practice




Christmas Play Dough // Homeschooling My Kinetic Kids // Recipes // Peppermint // 45 Ways to Play During Winter Break // Keeping Kids Busy During Christmas // Slime Recipes // Sensory Bins // Handwriting Practice // Snow Play










Play Dough Tools



45 Ways to Play During Winter Break // Homeschooling My Kinetic Kids // Keeping Kids Busy During Christmas // Slime Recipes // Play Dough // Sensory Bins // Handwriting Practice // Snow Play










More Snow Toys




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45 Ways to Play During Winter Break // Homeschooling My Kinetic Kids // Keeping Kids Busy During Christmas // Slime Recipes // Play Dough // Sensory Bins // Handwriting Practice // Snow Play


Monday, December 10, 2018

Spelling Printables and More








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Sunday, December 9, 2018

Ways to Teach Kids Writing Skills