Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Gospel on Halloween

Today is Halloween and, while I have mixed feelings about the day, right now in our family we have decided to participate in some of the fun of it all. Charlie Marie is dressing like her favorite book character, Little Bear. We enjoyed some fun and games at a local church's fall carnival last night and we will be passing out candy tonight as well as letting Charlie trick-or-treat a few houses in the neighborhood.
I know in the church there are strong opinions about not participating in Halloween and I highly respect that. My husband and I feel that in a culture in which neighbors are so isolated from one another (most just drive into their garage, close the door and aren't seen until they drive off for work and school the next morning) Halloween is a great opportunity to be neighborly and build community. We know that there is a whole lot of awful stuff attached to Halloween, so we tread lightly and prayerfully, but see it as an opportunity to bring light to a dark world.
One way we do this is with Gospel tracts. This year we got these tracts. What I like about them is that they have a pop culture quiz component so I can see kids keeping them to stump their parents and their friends at school. (side note: can you answer all the questions?)
Halloween Quiz, Pack of 25 Tracts
We package our tracts in cellophane bags with LOTS of good candy and treats. I like to bag the tracts with the candy because I don't want kids to get home and say, "Ugg! Those people just gave us this lame booklet." Rather, I want the response to be, "Wow! Those people are so generous, look at this cool bag of treats!" I think the tracts will be more well received in the second scenario...just maybe :)
If you like the idea of giving out tracts this Halloween (you know, today) it's not too late. Last year we printed out the Halloween tracts we found here and put them in the treat bags. If you don't have cellophane bags, zip-top baggies will do or you can staple some candy (the "good" candy) to the tract.

I'd love to know...what are your thoughts and feelings about Halloween? What do you do with your family?

In Him,

I am linking up today at...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I'm NOT Busy...

It has been quiet around here at The Homemade Oaisis and I am tempted to say that it's because I have been so busy. Busy with housework, busy with the girls, busy with church and family obligations etc. etc. It seems to be the mantra of the times, this "Oh, I'm so busy!" mind set. I know it is a trap I fall into all too often.

I came across this blog post today on the topic of business and was really convicted. The closing line may just need to become my new refrain: "I’m not busy. I have all the time I need to accomplish the things the Lord has called me to."

Do your busy self a favor and take a minute to read: I'm Not Busy and come back and share your thoughts with us.

In Him,

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thirtyone Days...

It is day 11 of the 31 days challenge and I am on day 10. One day behind, really not bad at all. But over the last few days I have been thinking over what is good and what is best. In pondering and praying I have come to the conclusion that, while 31 days of blogging is good, it is not God's best for me right now.

Right now we have a family road trip adventure waiting for us. Fun, care free, family bonding with no agenda. And, when we get home, my husband and I have been asked to spear heading a new Christmas giving ministry for these boys (I can't wait to share more about them and this ministry with you soon.) Amidst these things there is the daily serving of my husband, keeping our home clean and his favorite meals on the table. He comes before blogging. As do my girls and, of course, He, The King of Heaven and Earth, well, He obviously deserves priority.

I will continue to post some fun toddler related blogs for the remainder of the month (I still have a list of things I am excited to tell you about), but it won't be daily. There is still a giveaway, slated for next Wednesday, so do come back and enter.

So, rather than fret over not blogging for the day or neglecting other duties to write my bog I am going to extend myself some grace. Will you please do the same? To me...and to yourself, we all need extra grace.

I want to leave you with this, a beautiful reminder of not only how to find joy in parenting but in all of life as well. Life has been feeling like one big hurried emergency lately, and it is anything but that. Letting go of this challenge will help things to slow, in my day, in my heart and mind. Let us find joy and live joyfully, fully right where we are today.

Blessings friend. Stop in again soon. There will be more!

In Him,

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Toddler Travel Activities (day 9)

 Welcome to The Homemade Oasis and our 31 Days of Tot Activities! If this is your first time here you can find the rest of the 31 day posts here and get to know me over here. Thanks for stopping in!

Today I am getting the clan ready to head out on a 9+ hour road trip. The first substantial road trip we've taken with both girls (gulp!). So, in honor of our up coming, ummm, intense family bonding experience I wanted to leave you (and me) with a few links to some toddler activities and tips for on the road.
One thing we are doing is borrowing some obnoxious, battery operated toys from some Friends. We don't like them, so we don't have many ourselves, but I thought they would be novel and keep our toddler girl entertained. I also hope to check out some children's DVDs from the library (we don't have any of those either) to use on a portable DVD player. And, of course we'll have a myriad of snacks and music and books. And many, many prayers for sleep.

So, check out my Travel with Toddlers pin board if you are gearing up for an adventure of your own. And please, PLEASE, if you have any tips for me would you leave them in the comments? if you have a post on your own blog about traveling with young ones please leave that in the comments section too; I'd love to pin it! Thank you...and please, pray for my sanity.

In Him,

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pumpkin Sun Catcher (day 8)

Welcome to The Homemade Oasis and our 31 Days of Tot Activities! If this is your first time here you can find the rest of the 31 day posts here and get to know me over here. Thanks for stopping in!

Hello all! I have not disappeared! I guess we just had a weekend full of too much fun to find time to write up Monday's post. I took this 31 Days project on as a challenge, and challenging it has been. It sure can be difficult to find the time to blog everyday with all of the regular duties of life that need to be tended to. I hope that I won't drop the ball again but I can't make any promises. If you've been checking in here every day...thank you! It means so much that you are reading my words. Please stick around friends!

I want to share with you a quick fall craft that I did with Charlie yesterday. It's perfect to hang in a sunny window and catch warm rays of autumn sunshine.

Here's what you need:
Large piece of vellum
Orange tissue paper (1 sheet cut into roughly 1 inch square-ish shapes)
White glue
1.Fold the vellum in half and cut out a large pumpkin shape
2. In a small bowl mix a small amount of glue with water to thin
3. Paint the entire surface of the pumpkin with glue (I did this for my two-year-old, but an older child might enjoy this job)
4. Have your child stick the tissue paper squares to the pumpkin

This was a great activity for learning to do "one at a time," since she just wanted to pile a big handful on which, of course, didn't stick. We also talked about "finding a new space" since putting one piece on top of another also doesn't work.

Lest you think I have a toddler who will sit down and craft for hours please know that she was done with this project and ready to move on in under five minutes. It is worth the effort we put into it even if their attention spans are short. But, this is also why I like to keep things simple with out a lot of prep or expensive materials.

I will do my best to be back again tomorrow...we're getting ready to go on a road trip, so things are, again, pretty crazy (and I'm beginning to realize that "pretty crazy" is the new normal when I've got two under two!)

In Him,

*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links*

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Take Some Time (day 7)

Welcome to The Homemade Oasis and our 31 Days of Tot Activities! If this is your first time here you can find the rest of the 31 day posts here and get to know me over here. Thanks for stopping in!

Sunday is our sabbath day, a day of rest around here before a busy week. God knew what he was doing when he told us to slow down one day each week. We will be spending the day worshiping with the saints in our local church and celebrating life by hosting a baby shower here at the house.
What are you doing this fine fall Sunday? Why not take 30 minutes to day and get down on the floor and really play with your little ones? Turn off the computer, the TV and even your phone. Put together a puzzle, snuggle on the couch and enjoy a good book, play a game of hide-and-seek. Really look at your sweet little ones, hear what they have to all there.

Blessings to you friend!

In Him,

Friday, October 5, 2012

Crafty Blogger Spotlight: I Can Teach My Child (day 6)

Welcome to The Homemade Oasis and our 31 Days of Tot Activities! If this is your first time here you can find the rest of the 31 day posts here and get to know me over here. Thanks for stopping in!

Today I want to introduce you to one of my all time favorite blogs. Jenae at I can Teach My Child is a phenomenal resource for tot activities. She's a former elementary school teacher turned stay-at-home mom to two little boys and she's got creativity in spades.
Here activities are engaging, educational and so unique. In fact, two of the art projects from yesterday's post are from her site. The blog is full of free printable and tons of great give-a-ways too, and who doesn't like free stuff?!?
But, above all of that, I love that she is a Christ Follower and often offers up great ideas, activities and resources to get our little ones in the Word and the Word in our little ones. One of my favorite resources she's made available are her ABC Scripture Cards.
The site is easy to navigate and one of my favorite features is the menu bar that breaks up activities by age group, from birth to 6+.

So, spend some time poking around over at I Can Teach My Child and come back to let us know what fun you discover!

In Him,

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tot Art Round-Up (day 5)

Welcome to The Homemade Oasis and our 31 Days of Tot Activities! If this is your first time here you can find the rest of the 31 day posts here and get to know me over here. Thanks for stopping in!

There are so many great toddler art ideas out there. So instead of reinventing the wheel, I've put together a short list of some great projects from some amazing bloggers. I present to you, the Toddler Art Round-Up...
DIY Paint with Water
Hand Print Calendar
Edible Playdough

Mess-free Finger Painting

Bathtub Paint
DIY stamps
paint canvas
Finger Paint Quote Canvas
Have you blogged about a favorite toddler art project? I would love it if you would share it with us. Just cut and paste the link to your specific project in the comments section.

In Him,

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Saving the Scribbles (day 4)

Welcome to The Homemade Oasis and our 31 Days of Tot Activities! If this is your first time here you can find the rest of the 31 day posts here and get to know me over here. Thanks for stopping in!

My daughter Charlie loves to color and paint. But two-year-old art is not much more than scribbles and splatters. I encourage lots of it because it helps develop motor skills for writing and encourages creativity and so much more. So, we have a lot of paper covered with a lot of scribbles and splatters.

Many times the art graces the refrigerator for a few days before finding it's way to the recycling bin. But, as rudimentary as those little master pieces are, they are so precious. Here is a list of some ways to use and preserve those sweet scribbles and splatters...

  • Use large pieces of art to wrap gifts (grandparents will likely enjoy it more than the gift inside)
  • Use it as a back ground on a scrapbook page
  • Cut shapes from a painting and glue them to a card (again, grandparents will love this more than anything Hallmark can put together)
  • Use a favorite scribble as a mat for a favorite photo of the artist
  • Save a stack of art to make one of these
  • Slide them into page protectors in a binder for your child to enjoy and share

What do you do with your junior Picasso's scribbles? Leave a comment, I'd love to know.

Stop in tomorrow for a toddler art round up featuring great project ideas from around the web. Get your pin boards ready!

In Him,

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Toddler Painting 101 and a Project (Day 3)

Welcome to The Homemade Oasis and our 31 Days of Tot Activities! If this is your first time here you can find the rest of the 31 day posts here and get to know me over here. Thanks for stopping in!

Today I want to share a few tips for making toddler painting fun for everyone...

  • Supplies: Besides tempera paint and brushes, you'll want large sheets of paper, a container to hold your paint and some painter's tape
  • With toddlers and paint less is more. I only add a small amount to Charlie's dish (an old pie tin) at a time to prevent major spills.
  • Less is also more when it comes to toddler's clothing and painting. I prefer stripping down to the diaper versus covering up with an apron or smock. The good Lord knew what he was doing when he made kids so washable.
  • The larger the paper the better, it will keep more paint on the page and less on the...everything else.
  • Tape your paper down to the surface you child is working on to prevent the masterpiece from being brushed right on to the floor.
  • If you want to keep the art work from looking like mud (say for a gift for grandma) limit the color palate. Choose two primary colors and that way, when they mix, you just get a pretty secondary color! Sometimes we do two primaries and white to make pastels.
And, as promised, a simple painting project that always turns out pretty...

Supplies: Tempera paint (preferably two primary colors), paintbrush, container for paint, large sheets of paper, tape, pencil, scissors
  • Tape your paper to the work surface and let your kiddo paint! The thicker and gloppier the better
  • When your child is done fold the page in half with the paint on the inside and smoosh the two halves together.
  • Open and allow to dry completely
  • Once dry, fold the painting along the same fold line and and draw half of a symmetrical shape along the fold. (Ideas...butterfly, leaf, Christmas tree, heart, star)
  • Cut out your shape, open up and hang some where to enjoy your child's pretty artwork!
 I think a wall full of big autumn leaves would be so pretty! And, since I currently have a very blank living room wall, we may be doing just that.

Come back tomorrow for ideas to display all of your little ones sweet scribbles!

In Him,

I am linking up at...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Toddler Craft Supplies (day 2)

When it comes to toddler crafting I like to keep things simple. Nothing funky or fancy or trendy, just standard craft supplies. With young children it's really more about the process and experience than the final product. I like to find a balance of quality and value when it comes to supplies and, you'll soon see, Crayola tends to be my go to brand. You probably won't be too surprised by the list but I've also added some crafting tips in there too, so check it out.

Here, in no particular order, are some of my favorite craft supplies for toddlers...

Crayola Jumbo (So Big) Crayons
These are even bigger than Crayola's large crayons and are there for easier for small hands to grip and harder to break (although we have had a few break when falling from the highchair onto the kitchen floor.)
But then I saw these crayons. I've never tried them but they look indestructible! And they're cheaper...I think we need them!

Crayola Washable Triangular Markers
These triangular markers are great for small hands and have some neat features. Their triangular shape is supposed to help your little one hold the marker correctly, but it also keeps them from rolling off the table. The tips are like little round stamp pads, so there is no mashing and breaking of tips. My daughter actually prefers pounding them on the paper. They also have no caps and don't dry out! Keep in mind thought that these markers are really for making rudimentary marks and scribbles and aren't ideal for more controlled and accurate coloring.

Crayola Washable Tempera Paint
Tempera paint is a must have. We use it with brushes, stamps, or as finger paint (special finger paint can be so expensive, and around here every painting project usually ends up as finger painting anyway). I buy our tempera paint in primary color and black and white and them mix them to get secondary colors, pastels etc. It's cheaper that way and I have fewer bottles to store. And, as an added bonus, your tot gets a lesson in color theory!

Again, since with toddlers it's all about the experience rather than the end product, I buy the cheapest paint brushes I can find. They get so smashed and mangled that it would hurt to pay any more that $1 for a brush. I usually have two kinds of paint brushes on hand that I purchase at Michael's Craft Store. For about 10 cents a piece I can stock up on 1" foam brushes and I also buy cheap 1" bristle brushes for about 80 cents each.

Butcher Paper
My favorite paper to use for coloring and painting is are huge roles of butcher paper. I tear off huge sheets and use painters tape to tape them to the kitchen table (or patio if it's a get messy painting project).

I love having these large rolls of paper because toddlers motor skills require a large surface to color on since they don't have very well developed fine motor skills yet.

Restaurant supply stores are great places to find large rolls of butcher paper for much cheaper that you would buy a roll of craft paper at the office supply store. If you live in a small town, a great source for free rolls of paper would be your small local newspaper. They often discard the ends of the roll well before they are empty and will usually give them to you if you ask. News paper is probably not the best choice for painting if you are wanting to save the art work however.

My two year old LOVES stickers and they are great for developing fine motor skills in her fingers and hands. I buy them in the Target dollar bins or at the Dollar Store. She doesn't usually care what's on them, she just likes to peel and stick!

Here's my best sticker tip: if your child is having trouble peeling stickers from the sheet, peel of all of the surrounding sticker paper (you know, the negative space?) before giving it to him and it will be so much easier to peel stickers independently. Also, bigger stickers are easier for smaller hands to manipulate.

Play-Doh is a favorite around here for crafty imaginative play. I prefer to buy it rather than make it and have found that the stuff they sell at the Dollar Store (4 full size tubs for a buck!) is comparable to Play-Doh brand and  for the price it's just not worth making it. I prefer to keep the Play-Doh tools to a minimum. We have a set similar to the one pictured below and it provides plenty of fun.

I know a lot of parents hate play dough but I think the trick is to buy the cheap stuff and have only a few tools. Then clean up is easy and you don't have to worry about mixed colors or dried up lumps since it's so cheap. That and invest in a dust Christmas gift I received last year :)
What are your favorite toddler craft supplies? Please leave a comment and let me know! We're always looking for fun, new products to try!

Come back tomorrow for Toddler Painting 101 and a painting project that always turns out pretty!

In Him,

*All links are Amazon Affiliate links*