A List Maker's Life: August 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

What's On Your Plate?

There isn't as much on my plate lately as I'd like there to be, well...that is if you're talking about what's for dinner. Kevin and I are in the middle of a feisty competition with 10 of our friends. It's having an impact on how we sleep, what we drink, and when we eat. Seriously, calling it a challenge is just scratching the surface. Yet, we find ourselves feeling better than we have in a LONG time.

Anyway, as the back to school season heats up so does our schedule. I love to be involved. I rarely say no.
With Gavin starting school there are even more wonderful opportunities to get involved in. Our September calendar just might scream if I try to squeeze one more thing into her little, not so blank, boxes. (Did I just personify my calendar? Well, yes, it appears I did. She and I - we are pretty close friends). So, I suppose that means my plate is pretty full.

This week we kicked off our first (only??) season as the kindergarten team soccer coaches. What did I get us into this time!!

My scheming buddy and I met today to set up a schedule and plan preschool curriculum for our trial run at an in home co-op.

I was very encouraged by our recent parent orientation night and look forward to the start of another school year at Cherry Lane, where I will continue to serve on the parent board.

Tonight we are going to get back in the swing of all things "Friday Family Night" by introducing our new plan for moving our children's routine from chaos to order (now, that's a big order!). But, disciplined kids=happy families...right?!?! We are really excited about sharing the Champ Ladder, a little bit of pizza, and a few games of Uno.

Princess Pip has gathered all of her pretty pink gear for her first attempt at dance classes. We are looking forward to sending her to a program hosted by the local recreation department. The class is a mix of dance techniques and gymnastics training.

There are also parties, festivals, home shows, field trips, meet the teacher nights, open houses, birthday celebrations, and "quick fit in before summer ends" activities. We all have something to look forward too.

And to think I was itching to go back to teaching the fall to get us into better routines...

What's on your plate?
Grab your fork because it seems fall is coming to fill you up!
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Open For Business

Reminder: There are still a few hours to enter to win 250 5x7 Greeting Cards from Digital Room. And, believe it or not, here's another generous sponsored giveaway!

Do you have a home based business?

Are you running an etsy store full of delightful crafted creations?

Would you like to promote your blog or website at an upcoming conference?

Have you opened a hair salon in your home?

Could your students, and their parents, use an easy reference for finding classroom contact information?

Is your company looking for marketing materials for an upcoming trade show?

Have you developed a good or service to provide for others and want to get the word out?

Do you own or work in a small business?

If you answered "YES!" to any of these questions, this giveaway if for you!

UPrinting is offering 500 custom designed die cut business cards to 2 readers of A List Maker's Life!

UPrinting offers superior quality in all of their printing. Unlike some services where you may be able to print business cards for free, UPrinting does NOT print it's own name on the back of your cards.

With UPrinting, you are able to create your own unique design. This will ensure that the lady down the street who makes adorable baby blocks won't have the same graphics as the delicious cheesecake factory, nor will the Tupperware consultant have the same logo as the digital silhouette studio.

During the design process you will be able to choose from 3 different business card sizes: 2x3.5”, 2x3”, 2x2". The paper options include: 14pt matte cardstock matte, 14 pt gloss cardstock, and 13 pt cardstock uncoated. You may choose a favorite color option: color on both sides, color on 1 side only, black and white, or color on 1 side with black on the back.

Please leave a comment here with a note about how you might use 500 business cards. It's a win.win situation because you'll be entered into the drawing and you'll be promoting your business a bit right here in the comment section:)

Entries must be in by 10 PM on September 3rd and 2 winners will be announced on September 4th!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Easing the Transition

As we discovered on our recent trip to school for kindergarten testing, although he is acting excited about his new school adventure there seems to be a bit of anxiety lurking below the surface!

I searched out some suggestions from teachers, compiled on PBS Parents, for calming our fears about the first day.

~Ease into the routine
The start of a new year can be stressful - practice your routine a few days in advance.

~Ask your child compelling questions
Specific questions help children picture what school will be like.

~Describe what will happen on the first day
This will help ease nervousness or confusion

~Tool up
Obtain the class supply list and take a special shopping trip,
letting your child pick out a few special items.

We also tried a few ideas of our own in hopes of making this a smooth transition.

Visit the school playground with your child during the summer.
Encourage your child to imagine kindergarten.
How will it be like home and preschool? How will it be different?

~Find Some Friends
If you know other children who will be attending kindergarten at your child’s school, try to get them together in the summer. Your child will enjoy knowing a friend at school.

~Meet the Staff
Before kindergarten begins in the fall, visit the school with your child. Meet the secretary, principal, and custodian. On your way home, talk about how much fun kindergarten will be!

I know that several of you are experienced mamas and/or teachers. We’d love to hear your tips as well!
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Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Bright Side

The last few days have been chillier than normal for summer in Michigan with overcast skies and drizzle. In the midst of the clouds we've had some sunshine.

~The burden of deciding where Gavin will go to Kindergarten has been lifted. Our highly avoided conversation was actually a surprisingly calm discussion. After lisiting the pros and cons for each option we came to decision we are all excited about.

~Kevin arranged a beautiful bouquet for me as an anniversary surprise.

~We also enjoyed some "Love...Italian Style" at Via Maria.

~I have a sweet new cousin, Claire Lucille, who just happened to be born on our anniversary day. As reported by her very pleased Auntie Em, "She is perfection!"

~The kids and I invented our own game which happens to be filling lots of play time with addition practice fun. I'll have to tell you more about that soon.

~I spent an evening crafting cards with a friend. They are bright, cheerful, and ready to send. (And beautifully photographed with her fabulous new camera)!

~ Kevin and I took the kids to our favorite theatre to see the animated movie, UP!

~I am currently reading the new Max Lucado book, Fearless, for an upcoming review. It is a welcome contrast from the Twilight series I was reading last week.

~The audio book, The Noticer, has been inspiring me from my iTunes library while I work on the computer.

Whether or not the sun is shining in your corner of the world,
I hope you find the bright side!
In the words of The Noticer, "Perspective brings calm!"

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Through the Years

1 August Afternoon
2 Lovebirds
3 Homes We Lived In
4 Quiet Years with Just the 2 of Us
5 Years of Teaching
6 Pitter Pattering Feet
7 Cars We've Owned
8 South Haven Celebrations
9 Years of Marriage

Happy Anniversary Kevin!

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Scrapbook

Sweet Noelle, soon to be Mrs. K, over at Lil Bits and Pieces of Me shares her scrapbook each Sunday. I thought I might join her party and share a book I worked on last Sunday.

Inspired by a fellow scrappin' friend, I've always wanted to put together a book devoted to my favorite black and white photos. I typically use 12x12 pages, but I was excited to try a Milestone album. (It also forced me to be a bit more creative than just "copying" Jenn's b & w masterpiece). The beauty in these albums is that you simply slide your photos into pockets (like the good ole' days, right Jodi???). However, there is still plenty of opportunity for embellishments.

In laying out my pages I went nuts with my shape makers. No longer are they feeling neglected by the lack of attention they've seen since the introduction of the power palettes. I especially enjoyed creating the cover page. I won't mention how long I spent on this one page, but I'll happily entertain you guesses in the comments;)

Before I started this book I debated whether I wanted the mats and decorations to be exclusively black and white as well as the pictures, or if I wanted to contrast the pictures with bright colors. In the end I chose to add one piece of color to each page, as you might notice in the pages below.

Since the slide in pockets in this album are all 4x6 0r 4.5x6.5 spots, they require a little creative cropping to incorporate 5x7 and 8x10 photos.

I will look forward to adding to this album over the years as we collect new, timeless favorites!
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Friday, August 14, 2009

Digital Room Greeting Card Giveaway

I have been playing with the options in Digital Room for creating custom greeting cards. The program allows for designs on both the front and back of your cards, many color & shape options, personalized pictures, graphics, and text.
The options are endless!
Here are just a few:

*New Mamas: Put together beautiful birth announcements

*Families: Personalize your holiday greeting cards

*Teens: Make your own graduation announcements

*Teachers: Create custom postcards that fit your year long theme to send to students and classroom volunteers

*Neighbors: Invite the whole block to a summer party

*Organizers: Make invitations for a special event

*Grateful Hearts: Layout a personalized thank you note

*Small Businesses: Get the word out about your unique product or service

*Friends: Design custom greeting cards to let others know you are thinking of them

What will you design?
Leave a comment here for your chance to win!
2 winners will each receive 250 7x5 cards with your choice of matte or glossy finish.
The entry deadline is August 28th at 10PM EST.

The Fine Print from UPrinting:
~Winner will be responsible for paying shipping costs.
~This giveaway is only open to readers in the United States.
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Picnic Table Talk: Writing

This summer the kids have been practicing their writing skills using Cut-Up Sentences to record our daily activities. Many days after rest time we work together to add a page to our summer journal. Combining this activity with our time spent playing Er-u-di-tion (a fantastic sight word building board game) has certainly increased Gavin's recognition of the Kindergarten core words.
This practice is effective for:
~Helping children put words to their stories
~Learning Sight Words
~Early Reading
~Learning Letter and Word Spacing
~Printing Practice
and more!

There are many different ways that parents and teachers choose to use the Cut-Up Sentence strategy for developing writing, printing, and spelling skills.

PALS has an instruction sheet explaining their process for Cut-Up Sentences

Mrs. S's Kindergarten Blog has another method for your consideration.

The Many Lives of the Cut-Up Sentence

How To Help Your Child Put Together a Cut-Up Sentence

The way the kids and I use it is just one way you might like to try.

1. The kids dictate a complete sentence to tell me about a highlight from their day.

2. I write the sentence for them, modeling appropriate word spacing, punctuation, and uppercase letters. Then read the sentence back to them, pointing at each word as I read.

3. I cut the entire sentence off the bottom 1/4 of the paper

4. They use their scissors to cut the sentence strip into individual words

5. The words are mixed up for the kids to sort and put back into order

6. We add glue to the bottom of the paper and they place the words back on the paper in order to create their sentence

7. At this point Anne Hope begins her illustration while Gavin copies the sentence in his own printing

8. They are encouraged to add an illustration that appropriately represents their story and helps them remember what the sentence says

9. The kids "read" back their sentence to me in review. Each day we go through and read the sentences from the previous days as well

They both seem to enjoy this activity and hopefully it is helping them to develop quality writing skills for the future.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I'm Just Happy To Be Here

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

First Taste

Despite the sweet smell (ha!) my animal loving (double ha!) little ones weren't so crazy about browsing around in the big barns of the Ottawa County Fair. In all fairness, I must admit I haven't modeled a huge appreciation for farm creatures.

It's fair to say the highlight of the adventure was watching the speed horse races around the 1/2 mile track. Our fair maiden was very fascinated by the Nascar-esque horses, but insisted on sitting at the VERY top of the bleachers - you can never be too safe around those crazy beasts.

And, I'm fairly certain Anne Hope developed a new fondness for fries and fresh squeezed lemonade.

My sweet tooth fairy snuck Gibson a small nibble of her sticky cotton candy.
It was love...

...at first taste!

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Read and Share Toddler Bible

Stories Retold by Gwen Ellis
Illustrations by Steve Smallman

The Read and Share Toddler Bible is written to keep the attention of one to four year olds while maintaining the accuracy of biblical stories. There are 40 abbreviated stories taken from both the Old and New Testaments. Each story includes the bible reference, and illustration, and a teaching tip or activity. The bible includes stories of creation, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Joseph, David, Issac, and more. There is also a 60-minute DVD featuring 14 key stories.

It is important to Kevin and I that our family hears and learns the stories of the Bible. Since Gavin was born we have been reading My Baby Bible for Little Boys by Carolyn Larsen. While it is adorable, and was appropriate, the kids were ready for more.

We found the pictures in this children's bible to be cute and colorful. The characters are a bit quirky with exaggerated noses and facial expressions. The illustrations proved to be a delightful way to draw our kids into the story, as well as encouraging them to think about how the biblical figures might be feeling about their story and circumstances.

I enjoyed the use of onomatopoeia in most of the stories; it is engaging and sometimes silly. The accompanying activities and questions are age appropriate and realistic to implement with resources already available in our home.

This tot Bible uses the terms "wrong choice" and "bad choice" when referring to sin. This language is easy for our children to relate to as they are often encouraged to think about whether they are making good or bad choices. I did think twice about this language as it is included in a bible, perhaps we should teach our children from a young age to call out sin as "sin." However, this is an adaptation I will be able to make for our own family as we read the Bible together.

We were very pleased with The Read and Share Toddler Bible and anxious to see the kids learn all 40 stories and apply the biblical principles to their lives.

If you'd like to see more, there is an option to preview the colorful pages of the Read and Share Toddler Bible.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishing for providing this book for review.
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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Picnic Table Talk: Storytelling

Gavin loves to tell stories when he rides in the car. And he is quite the storyteller. I recently recorded one of his stories and promised to "publish" it on the computer.

This week's Picnic Table Talk about Storytelling is the perfect time to feature his little story.
Presenting, without further ado...

The Friendly Dump Truck

Once upon a time there was a bobcat and his trailer.
They had work to do, but they couldn’t find anyone to pull them.

As they sat and waited a front loader drove by.
“Will you please pull us big front loader?” they asked.

“No, Thanks!” said the front loader.

Next a dumpster truck drove up.
“Will you please pull us dumpster truck?” they asked.
“No, Thanks!” said the dumpster.

Then a dump truck stopped.
“Will you please pull us dump truck?” they asked.
“Sure,” he said.

They were so surprised they asked him again.
“Are you really going to pull us?”

The nice red dump truck hooked up to the bobcat and the trailer and they all headed out for a day of hard work.

The End

Impressive, right? ;)

Gavin and I wanted to check out the features of the story creator site at Disney's Kerpoof. Using the many scene and character options we created an illustration for the story. This was a joint project, as I was excited to see what the site offers, however it is age appropriate for Gavin to work independently. The Kerpoof studio offers many great features for designing cards, making movies, telling stories, illustrating, and more. The features are free and offer a lot of opportunities for creative expression. We will look forward to looking further into the site and spending more time telling our stories!
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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Where's Gibson?


I Found You.

He's actually harder to find than the "big kids" ;)
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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Quite Generous Indeed

I'd like to present this key of Generosity to tiny*prints
and Katie's Nesting Spot for a fantastic surprise!

Check out this simple & sweet gift certificate they sent.

I am so excited to do some stationary shopping. As a list maker & note writer I get pretty excited about adorable paper - and adorable paper is just what is to be found in the tiny*prints shop (photo cards, announcement, invitations, note cards, address labels, and more). I have also been extremely impressed by the relationships tiny*prints and specifically the man in social marketing have made with mom bloggers and their readers.

Thanks to Katie for hosting the giveaway & thanks to tiny*prints for the generous gift!

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Monday, August 3, 2009


Last Thursday a group of friends and I met got together for a day of crafting at my favorite preschool in Holland. We were thrilled to have space to spread out and work, while our kids enjoyed playing together.

They had a silly time with the crazy costumes, new toys, and sun & snacks on the playground. They quite possibly made the BIGGEST playroom mess I have ever seen. Oh Well. It gave us the opportunity to make some serious progress on our picture projects.
Some of our group has made the switch to digital scrapping. Have you tried it yet? It's addicting and doesn't require the table space and garbage bags necessary for "cut & paste" albums!

I was able to finish several pages in our '09 family album. The theme for this book is "Everyday Lessons." Each page in the book has a key word or big idea such as: trust, persevere, celebrate, etc. Based on the event featured I chose appropriate words. The last page of this album is going to be a glossary of sorts that tells the story or lesson behind the word on each page. This book is just about up to date, but as you can see I'm pretty much a "get 'er done" scrapbooker.

My pages are quite simple. During this crop I finished pages for: hard work, enthusiasm, heritage, traditions, wander, knowledge, appreciation, excitement, happiness, searching, and patriotic. So, it was a productive day for me!

While we worked Gibson napped on the lap of a cozy, overstuffed friend!

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

9 Months

My baby:

1. Calls for "Mum-ma" when he wakes up from his nap
2. Uses everything to pull himself up and cruise along & climbs wides stairs
3. Eats just about anything we give him, except carrots and peas &
Knows how to open the fridge to find what he wants - yikes!
4. Plays: "So Big," "Patty Cake," and "YEAH!" (clapping)
5. Gives open mouth kisses
6. Lights up when "Da-Dah" comes home from work
7. Loves to be "P-uh" (up) and carried
8. Has two, prized, pearly whites in the bottom row
9. Is 9 months old today!

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