Thursday, January 26, 2012

African Safari preschool pack (FUNDRAISER)

Our friends, Jack & Angie, are parents of three – soon to be four – wonderful children!  Their first two children, Emma and Jackson, were born into their family.  Laila was added to their family through adoption. They are now in the process of adopting a four year old boy, Judah, from Ethiopia.

They are a family with an amazing faith in the Lord, and I sometimes stand back in awe at the way God works through their family.   You can read this family’s story on their adoption blog at Adopting Judah.


When Angie shared their new adoption story with friends at our monthly Bunco night, I knew God wanted me to use this blog to help their family.  I asked Angie, and since Judah is in Africa, she suggested a safari tot pack.

This pack is available at Teacher’s Notebook for $2.00.  Every penny earned from this pack will be donated directly to Jack & Angie’s adoption fund.  Click on the picture below if you’d like to purchase this pack.  THANK YOU!

safari ad

The picture above shows a sampling of the pages available in this pack.  There are over 25 activities and worksheets for 3 – 6 year olds.  Below, you’ll find links to hands-on activities, crafts, snacks, books, and videos to accompany this printable pack.

PINTEREST FINDS (Seriously one of the most fun websites around, isn’t it?!)

Click on any picture below to go to my Safari Pinterest Board

AMAZON FINDS…books, crafts, magazines (check your library first!)


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Can We Do A Project?

Three kiddos hit me up with that question this morning.  After Christmas, I’d gone shopping with my sister-in-law and niece, and I’d picked up some clearanced Christmas crafts at Michael’s to use next December.  I ran to the closet, pulled out a snowman project that said, “Ages 4 and up”, and we got started.

I’m pretty sure that most 4 year olds could not do this alone.  I stared at the head for several minutes before figuring out how to fold and glue it! :)  The 4 year olds glued their own, but I folded them into the correct shape. 

Max had no clue, but he was trying…and taking all the sticky pieces and putting them all over the counter and wall.  I did much of his project for him.  Max did the face by himself, although I have no idea where the carrot nose ended up.  His end result is rather Picasso-ish! ;)January2012 066

Alex understood, but he got a little carried away with the glue.  I made the hat for him, as it’s just a bit too tricky for a 4 year old.January2012 065

Grace needed a little help with the hat, too, but otherwise did hers independently.

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Here are our end results…bobble-head snowmen to decorate our counter for a few days! :)January2012 067

Monday, January 23, 2012

Alex’s Birthday Party

We celebrated Alex’s 4th birthday yesterday with our extended family.  Alex was SO excited for this party.  Everything had to be decorated according to his specifications, everything had to be “just so”, and could hardly wait for his special day to arrive!

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Everyone was asked to wear a party hat.  With over 20 guests, he ran out before all the guests arrived, but we still had lots of party hat fun…January2012 005

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Alex wanted a Car 1 birthday party theme, and he was in luck…Bailey’s had all the Cars 1 party supplies on clearance for 50 cents per package!  Convenient, huh? :)

CVS still had the Cars 1 helium balloons available, so we were able to pick up on of those for our excited little boy.  (Poor Max didn’t understand why he wasn’t getting a birthday balloon.)January2012 003

We also printed, laminated, and hung several two-sided cars ~ Lightning, Mater, Sally, and Finn McMissile.  (There was no convincing the boy that Finn McMissile was from the second movie, ha!)

Grandma S & my siblings helped by bringing side dishes, and I made pulled pork using the EASIEST recipe ever…cook a pork roast with root beer in the crock pot, drain, shred, add a bottle of barbecue sauce.  A few bites tasted a bit root-beer-y, but overall, I thought it was a good, quick recipe to feed a crowd.

Grandma P & Jessica made a Lightning McQueen cake.  They are so creative!

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This is the first year Alex has blown out his candles all by himself.

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Max barely ate any lunch except for fruit, but he sure gobbled up the frosting and ice cream!  I’m not sure he ever took a bite of his cake, but he ate a LOAD of black fondant!  Then, when he thought no one was looking, Max helped himself to some extra ice cream straight from the scoop!

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Jensyn slept through lunchtime, but she enjoyed a whole bunch of food from Aunt Deb and Grandpa S.  It’s unbelievable to me how much this little 16 lb pipsqueak can pack away!

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She got passed around a lot, which was fine as long as Mommy was out of sight.  Josh definitely enjoyed her today!  The rest of the pictures with Jensyn are on somebody else’s camera, as I wasn’t allowed in whatever room the baby was in…;)January2012 053

Alex got spoiled with a Chuggington roundhouse and ChugWash.  He also receive a LeapPad case and three new games, a ride-on bouncy ball, a Chuggington DVD, a puppy game, Lightning McQueen underwear, and two new pairs of pants.

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The underwear makes me laugh.  When Keith’s cousin Danny e-mailed me to ask for gift suggestions for Alex, I asked Alex what he wanted from Danny & Ali for his birthday.  Alex said, “Lightning McQueen underwear!”  He was insistent, so that’s what they got him…and then Alex seemed like he didn’t care at all upon opening it.  As soon as his guests left, though, guess what Alex was wearing?  His new underwear!  (I know, buddy, you’re going to be really ticked at me for writing this when you’re 14 years old and reading through this blog.  Sorry!)

The new Chuggington sets saw a lot of playtime from the little kids and some of the uncles.  When Alex woke up this morning, that’s the first thing he did…run to the living room to see his new Chuggington sets.  This is definitely a big hit!  (As soon as he finished breakfast, though, he grabbed the Leap Pad to try out each of his new games!)

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So, that’s it…the 4th birthday is finally complete!  Happy 4, Alexander.  We are so blessed to have you in our family!

Oh, and just for the record, Alex says (quite insistently) that he’d like a SEVEN cake for his 5th birthday.  We love you, buddy, but sometimes you have some strange ideas!  I’m curious to see what theme you’ll REALLY choose! ;)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Valentine’s Day PreK Pack from Over The Big Moon

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to create a tot pack, and I miss that “me time” to sit at the computer and create!

I was soooooo, soooo, soooo hoping that Pam would do a Valentine pack!  I didn’t make this one, but I’m going to steer you in this direction if you’re looking for a cute, traditional Valentine’s pack for your little ones.  I love her work!  Click on the picture below to link to Pam’s site and download this pack.  Thanks, Pam…I look forward to using this!

I am working on two different packs right now, although it’s s-l-o-w going!

One is a very non-traditional Valentine’s pack.  Alex helped me pick the graphics, and it’s full of cars, trucks, helicopters…and hearts.  (He refused to consider all things cute-sy.)  This one will be a free pack.

The other one is an African Safari theme.  It will be a fundraiser pack for our friends, as they are adopting a little boy from Ethiopia.  (For the month of February, all income from all of my tot packs at Teacher’s Notebook will go to benefit Jack & Angie’s adoption.  I can’t wait for their little Judah to come home!)  This pack is about halfway finished, and I’m hoping to finish it up by the end of next week.

Between computer issues and a preschooler who is no longer napping, I just don’t have time or ability to create as often as I’d like right now.  *I MISS IT*!  That’s my “Me Time”!  I have a line-up of tot packs to work on…if I could just find the time to do it.  Hopefully, we’ll get everything – naps, quiet times, and computers – figured out soon so I can get to creating on a regular basis again!   :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Little Things

Sometimes, we think we have to do amazing things to have fun with our kids.  We plan huge projects, expensive outings, etc.  Those days are fun, but I’ll bet our kids are just as likely to remember the little things we do for fun.

My boys LOVE when I do a sink full of dishes.  I put in lots of soap, scoop all the bubbles off the top, and plop it on their heads.  They giggle, run to the mirror, give themselves bubble beards, and smear bubbles all over each other.  When Daddy had some time off at Christmas, he got in on the fun with the boys. 

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When it snows, the boys love when I bring in a few bowls full of the fresh, white stuff and set them at the table (or counter) with a bunch of toy tools, measuring cups, spoons, etc.  This time, I gave them bowls of snow and their Color Shifters Hot Wheels cars.  This kept them busy for over an hour!

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(The lightning is horrible, but you get the idea…)

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What are YOUR favorite ways to make your kiddos happy and keep them busy without spending a penny?

Max Sings

To know Max is to love him.  This kid is so fun! 

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He’s an emotional kid, so you do have to put up with some drama…and ear-piercing screaming…and crying so hard that you can’t understand a word he’s saying…and more ear-piercing screaming…

Aside from that, though, Max is a bundle of energy and fun and JOY for life!  He often reminds me a lot of a (well-reigned) Fudge from the book Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

With Max, you never know what you’re gonna get next.  He might jump off the top of the slide.  He might leap of the couch as you’re walking by, launching himself onto your back.  He may unexpectedly throw a frisbee in your face when you’re calmly reading a book.  He may break into song at any time.

Oh, that last one…he has recently discovered that he LOVES to sing.  Max sings every day.  His song collection is growing, but the ones I can name off-hand are:

    • Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
    • The Farmer In The Dell
    • The Alphabet Song
    • Bingo (There Was a Farmer…)
    • Row, Row, Row Your Boat
    • Jesus Loves Me
    • Thank You, Lord, For This Food (our lunchtime prayer song)

He probably knows more, but these are the ones I hear over and over, again and again, all day long.  He sings with joy and enthusiasm, and he loves for us to sing along with him!

He tends to “shut down” when I pull out the camera for a video, but I caught a few songs on video that I wanted to add to the blog so we can remember his cuteness at two years old.

Twinkle, Twinkle…

The Farmer In The Dell (the second time, he sings it alone…)

P.S.  The photos are unintentionally labelled January2010…they should say 2012…I’m not sure how that happened! :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Warning: this isn’t my happiest post ever, but sometimes, with three very small children, things don’t go according to plan.  This is one of those posts where I tell it like it is ~ life with littles is crazy, unpredictable, and not always full of smiles and giggles.  On the bright side, it does end happily…

We always try to do some sort of fun activity when Daddy’s home at Christmas time.  This year, we ran a few errands, went out for lunch, and spent an afternoon at the inflatable play place.

This should have been fun, but our children weren’t exactly cooperative at the restaurant.  It’s funny, most of the time, our children are pretty good in restaurants.  The experiences, while not as boring as going out with just grown-ups, are pretty decent.  Usually, we get complements from the people around us about the good behavior of our little ones.

Once in a while, though, we have a day where we wonder why we bring our children to restaurants.  Today was definitely one of those days! Alex didn’t want to eat.  The restaurant had no changing table.  (Seriously! I even asked an employee!)   Max SCREAMED because his kids’ meal (at Chipotle) was too spicy.  I’ve NEVER seen so much food end up on the floor under a restaurant table…and I felt so bad about it that I crawled around with napkins to clean it up before we left!  Next time, we’ll head to Chick-Fil-A and save the Chipotle for a time when we’re out without kiddos! :)

I figured that, at least, the inflatables place would be better.  For the most part, it was.  We had a mishap with Jensyn getting hurt by a 19 year old who was FAR TOO BIG to be playing in a bounce house.  She was IN MY ARMS standing on the floor outside of the mesh, and we were watching Alex & Max inside.  There was about 6 inches between her face & the mesh.  This 19 year old was very wildly wrestling with a 13 year old, lost his balance, and SLAMMED against the mesh and into Jensyn’s face hard enough that I fell backward. My poor baby girl SCREAMED before holding her breath for what seemed like forever.  I was so afraid she’d have a bloody face or a broken nose, and I was very thankful to see that she didn’t.  She ended up being okay, other than having a small bruise on her forehead and a very red nose and upper lip.  Still, I was pretty shook up about the situation.  He was very apologetic, and so was his aunt…who came over when she saw me talking with her nephew.  We had a polite conversation, and I didn’t get angry…but I’m still a little annoyed.  Long story short, this boy was developmentally delayed.  I can understand that, but then you should be WATCHING HIM if he’s in your care.  He may have the mind of a 12 year old, but with the body of a 19 year old, he could really hurt the little ones in there!  (I’m sure some of you might have opinions on that, and you might not agree with me…and that’s okay.  As long as you’re polite, feel free to comment on that.  I am sympathetic to their situation; I just think she shouldn’t have been halfway across the building from him when he’s in a bounce house filled with toddlers and preschoolers!)

So, once we got past that incident, we had a VERY GOOD TIME!  (Phew!  We needed it by that point!)  That place is loads of fun for little ones, and they even have a toddler play area for teeny ones!  It’s close to home, loads of fun, and really not all that pricy.  I *LOVE* this place.  Once Jensyn is a little bigger, I’m sure we’ll be here often!  My boys are all smiles when you set them free in this place!

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Keith even snuck the camera from the diaper bag and got a few pictures to prove that this family really does have a mama! ;)

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If you’re wondering about the oversized t-shirts on our boys, these shirts benefit our friends as they go through the process of adopting their little boy from Africa!  We are SO excited for Jack, Angie, and family as they raise funds to bring Judah home!  You’ll be hearing more about that from me in a few weeks, but for now, feel free to check out their blog at  They are an AMAZING family, really striving to serve and glorify God, and we’re so thrilled to follow their adoption journey and help in any way we can!

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December Randomness

Is “randomness” a word?  I guess it is now! ;)  These are the pictures that really didn’t have a post of their own, yet I wanted to add them to the blog.

I recently learned the hard way about how important it is to always BACK UP YOUR PHOTOS IN MULTIPLE LOCATIONS.   Simply saving them on a USB flash drive is NOT good enough, as a certain 2 year old discovered how easy it is to bend the tip of the thumb drive and render it useless. 

We almost lost all of our photos from 2009 – which means we would have lost most of Max’s birth pictures and little baby pictures.  Thankfully, even though the flash drive is ruined, Keith was able to get creative and retrieve the files & pictures from the drive…and we spent the next several days moving all of our photos to CDs, online storage and an external hard drive kept in our fire safe.  (Those who use Little Monkey preschool packs will also appreciate my husband, as ALL of my tot packs &  graphics were temporarily stored on that flash drive while we cleaned up our computer!)

So, even though we now have all of our pictures safe & sound, I want to make sure that any pictures I want my children to see in the future end up here.  It’s another safe place to have copies of the pictures for future reference!


Our laundry room is very small, and it’s also our most-used entrance into our home.  It holds our washer and dryer, coats & shoes & diaper bags, and it’s also a landing pad for all the things we carry into the house.  We FINALLY found some solutions that work for us to keep it organized.  One was this broom holder, and Alex proudly “helped” Daddy hang it.  He’s all dressed up, but he’s wearing his crocodile-shaped crocs on his feet.  Why?  “They’re my work shoes”, says Alex.

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I treated the boys and Grace to Happy Meals for lunch one day.  (I rarely buy happy meals – just an order of nuggets and a small fry to share.) We brought it home, as I am NOT brave enough to enter McDonalds alone with 4 small children.  Max decided to turn his Happy Meal bag into a hat.  Ironically, one of the few times they’ve convinced Mommy to buy Happy Meals, my boys got Hello Kitty toys.  Oops!

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Since Max’s hair cut turned out pretty good, Daddy is now our official barber for the boys.  We adore Alex’s new haircut!  (Don’t think he’ll ever get his hands on Jensyn’s hair, ha!) 

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Technology overload…one’s playing with the LeapPad while the other checks out the toy laptop.  They are LOVING their new toys.  (Me?  I’m loving that the kitchen counters are clean!)December2011 307

This was right after Keith & I assembled the trampoline from Grandma & Papa.  It has since moved upstairs to our playroom, but the boys were SO excited to try it out as soon as it was put together.  Oh, how they love this thing!

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Jensyn is LOVING being in the big tub with the boys.  She wouldn’t even look up from the toys for a picture.  Yes, my boys are having a tea party with a pink tea set; we’ll just say they were doing it for their sister’s sake.  Yeah, that’s why… ;)December2011 312

Max received the Cars 2 movie for Christmas.  For some reason, while most of us enjoy sitting ON the cushions to watch a movie, my boys felt the need to put the cushion behind them and sit directly on the springs of the chair.  Strange boys… :)December2011 317